Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm Annoyed and I Blog, so....(on the evils of sleep training)

   I just wanna throw this out into the universe, fully aware that what you say on the internet cannot be taken back. Ever, no never. (Two blogs in two days? I must be avoiding laundry....)

  I am annoyed. Really, super, incredibly annoyed. I am tired, so tired, of reading about how babies on sleep 'schedules' are being stressed out, taught not to trust, growing deep seated emotional issues, are forced to sleep when they aren't tired, aren't being fed when they are hungry, etc. etc. etc.
  First off, Exhibit A:


 I started sleep training my baby at 3 weeks old, when I could no longer function for lack of sleep and she still thought that day time was for sleeping and nighttime was for waking, she couldn't stay asleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, and we both were generally unhappy beings. The first few days of attempting to put her on a schedule, which meant she was eating every 3 hours like clockwork, and getting the doctor recommended amount of sleep, she cried. A lot. And then in a few days something magical happened....she slept during her naps. She slept for longer stretches at night. The "cluster feeding" stage was long past, and most babies at that age need to eat every 3 hours, which she did.
   I have never not fed my baby when she was hungry. The assertion that sleep-schedulers starve their children or don't follow their hunger cues simply demonstrates ignorance on the part of those asserting it. In all  my discussions on forums, reading websites, books, blogs, etc., I have never come across a single sleep-training mom who ever thought it was a good idea to not feed a hungry baby. 
    Secondly, the idea that babies who have been brutally subjected to the "cry it out" method are being emotionally scarred and will never be able to trust their parents or anyone, is--sorry--stupid. My child has no problem whatsoever trusting anyone. She smiles at strangers. She cuddles with strangers. She is not afraid of people, she likes them. She is obsessed with me, the mean tyrant that I am. She NEVER cries. The ONLY time she cries is when she is tired and she is not in her crib. Then she will cry. If she's tired and she's put in her crib, she does one of two things: rolls over silently and falls asleep OR rolls over, moans for a few minutes, and falls asleep. Nap time or bed time is never a crisis in our household....it's welcomed. It's comforting. There's no fear or mistrust on her part that she won't be taken care of when she wakes up. 
   Furthermore, and I owe this to the sleep training, her teething has not interuppted her life or sleep whatsoever. Occasionally she is fussier or clingier to me than normal (again, where is this "tear in trust" that sleep training her has created?) but other than that, she is sleeping 12 hours a night and sleeping through all of her naps during the day. As long as she is being held or she is in her crib, she feels safe and the pain of teething is forgotten. 
   The fact is, I know lots and lots of sleep scheduling moms with the most well-adjusted children I've ever met. The fact that every time I pick Clementine up from the nursery after church on Sunday, the workers tell me she is the best baby ever, they want to take her home, she's always well-behaved, let's me know that maybe those mean scheduling moms are on to something. 

  I know every child is different. I would allow that maybe there is a child out there somewhere who does not respond well to eating and sleeping at certain times of the day. Okay sure. But uh....don't all of us normally eat at similar times during the day? Go to sleep and wake up at similar times every day? Isn't that how our bodies work? Don't we get hungry if we don't eat at the normal time we eat? Don't we get tired if we go to bed later than usual, our bodies become weak, etc.etc.? I don't think following this common sense idea and helping our children learn how to sleep is such a horrible, psyche torturing thing to do. It has made my entire family's life easier. 

   Sleep schedulers don't believe that not comforting a crying baby is good. We don't believe that our wants should win out over theirs. We just believe that humans--including the baby humans--require a certain amount of food and sleep every day and we can provide the comfort of structure and consistency and knowing what to do when and that they will be provided for when they need. Scheduling has provided a security for Clementine, a surety and comfort that her day will be the same and she will never have to go hungry or tired. Consistency is one of the absolute best and most comforting things you can offer your children! 

   If you don't put your baby on a schedule, and you follow more of the "attachment" style parenting....that's great. If that's how you have chosen to provide for your child, and you both are happy and healthy beings, I am happy for you. Truly. Motherhood is hard enough without having to always feel like you're doing it 'wrong', right? Really, just because I know that for me sleep training = well-adjusted, easy baby doesn't mean that I think not sleep training = crazy, difficult baby. All babies are different. I wish that both sides of this issue could appreciate that and just support each other as we all attempt to navigate filling the sweetest title we've ever been given: Mom.

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