Intro

All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

Baby Taming - if it works, does that make it right?

And why sleep training is like crash dieting...

Something I hear from time to time on random groups is "we started x and two days later my daughter/son was sleeping 20 hours!" (OK I exaggerate a tad but you get the point)

As I've said before, sleep is seemingly the holy grail by which all babies are measured.  "Is he a good baby?", "Is he good for you at night", "Is he sleeping through yet?", "I'm lucky my kids are great sleepers".  Good or great is defined as sleeping for a long period - even better if you can get up and leave them all alone whilst they do that without them protesting!  Good is based solely on whether it suits the parents, and boy do they love to tell others if their baby is doing it "well" - in some circles having a baby who sleeps super long stretches is the badge of an amazing parent!  Others turn to them, desperately seeking advice on how they too can convince their baby to do the same.

Just today I read a message from a mum who had found her child at six months woke for two, yes two (shock horror) night feeds;  yet three days after starting "sleep training" her baby now slept 14 hours straight.  She would recommend the method to everyone (and anyone), it was brilliant etc.

And from a tired parents point of view perhaps it is.

But just because something gives the result we desire, does this make it the right course of action?

Say you wanted to lose weight; you could crash diet - eat only cabbage soup or liquidised nettles, or whatever the latest trend at the time is.  The result would be (if you managed to follow it without giving in, you have to be determined) weight loss.  Furthermore it tends to be rapid - thus that course of action has achieved the aim, it worked.

Yet most people now recognise crash dieting, whilst appearing to give fast results is not actually all that great. The weight loss is for the most part water, not fat - and as soon as you start eating normally again the weight goes back on.  In fact there are a whole bunch of risks linked to crash dieting.

This is in many ways similar to sleep training. 

Leaving the baby to cry (whatever sort of cry that may be) can appear to give fast results - yet many mothers find they have to "retrain" their baby regularly once the pattern is disturbed; perhaps due to teething, illness or holidays.  

A child who stops waking can appear to give the parents the result they were looking for - but a baby whose cry is persistently ignored of course stops calling, which research shows actually isn't all that great for the child.  Just like with a strict diet the parent often has to be determined, "you mustn't give in" we hear when mums comment how hard it was to ignore their baby's cries (but they have to right?  otherwise baby will manipulate them!).  The fact brain scans have shown young babies are incapable of manipulation is by the by - who cares why the babies are crying right, as long as they stop?  But I digress:

From Kellymom:
"Research suggests that longer stretches of deep sleep are associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and babies who sleep longer/deeper may be more vulnerable to SIDS (see in particular the research of James McKenna, PhD). Some scientists are saying that it appears that long sleep stretches are not "natural" for human infants and that sleep interruptions in the early months may provide a protective factor against SIDS. More research is needed on this subject, but parents might want to think twice about significantly manipulating baby's natural sleep pattern in the early months."
As I've said before, we don't get this information in the training manual!

Sears also conducted a small experiment of just two infants with fascinating results:
"In 1992 we set up equipment in our bedroom to study eight-week-old Lauren's breathing while she slept in two different arrangements. One night Lauren and Martha slept together in the same bed, as they were used to doing. The next night, Lauren slept alone in our bed and Martha slept in an adjacent room. Lauren was wired to a computer that recorded her electrocardiogram, her breathing movements, the airflow from her nose, and her blood oxygen level. The instrumentation was painless and didn't appear to disturb her sleep.
A technician and I observed and recorded the information. The data was analyzed by computer and interpreted by a pediatric pulmonologist who was "blind" to the situation—that is, he didn't know whether the data he was analyzing came from the shared-sleeping or the solo-sleeping arrangement.
Our study revealed that Lauren breathed better when sleeping next to Martha than when sleeping alone. Her breathing and her heart rate were more regular during shared sleep, and there were fewer "dips," low points in respiration and blood oxygen from stop-breathing episodes. On the night Lauren slept with Martha, there were no dips in her blood oxygen. On the night Lauren slept alone, there were 132 dips. The results were similar in a second infant, whose parents generously allowed us into their bedroom."

Penn State researchers have also shown that being emotionally receptive can reduce sleep disruptions and help infants and toddlers sleep better:
"When parents provide reassurance through emotional communication, Teti and his colleagues believe that it lets children know they are in a safe environment"


The reality is many babies are not naturally supposed to sleep long spells - if they were, why would they need training or a pacifier to do so? 


What happened before lists of rules appeared - did babies never sleep?  Why do some assume a baby doesn't want to?  And will do everything including making themselves sick on cue to avoid it?

Another fact rarely considered by some "sleep experts" is that some mums need night feeds to maintain their milk supply.  Whilst some seem to have a bullet proof supply no matter what they do, others can find not feeding at night when prolactin levels are highest -  can quickly have a knock on effect on both supply and their baby's weight gain.

Some babies will conform and bend to a schedule easier than others - perhaps they are of a more relaxed, laid back nature (and often these are the infants that may not complain even if weight gain slows or stops - some may happily take a pacifier instead).  Others will continue to wake, cry and try to let their parents know what they need in the only ways they can; sounds and crying, eye contact and body language.  Given some experts tell you to ignore the cries and not look at the baby - that pretty much eliminates all the options the baby has.

Mums who have bought into the "sleep training ideal" can spend days, weeks and even months trying to work out what they are doing wrong, why their baby doesn't sleep like everyone else's once the routine is in place.  Of course the books propose that if you had everything right, baby would sleep - it has to be something the parent is or isn't doing.

The best tip I could give any new mum is bin any book that can't provide some sort of evidence based for their opinion.  Look for books from qualified people; if you want to read about breastfeeding, look for something written by a qualified expert in that field.  Look at what the norm is for a breastfed infant and consider how feeding method can also impact on sleep.  Self styled parenting gurus often have no children and thus do not appreciate that a mother has an instinct to respond to her crying child for a reason - until you have a baby it's hard to truly appreciate that.  Advice is often based upon opinion, not evidence (which doesn't consider long term impact or outcome of an action) and rarely considers why something is happening, they simply look to fix it.

To maximise the bond you have with your baby, and protect his growing body and brain - ultimately the strongest tool, the thing you should never ignore, is instinct.


EDITED 5.3.11 TO ADD:
The end of THIS blog post also talks about how non breastfed babies appear to have a less energy-efficient and rhythmically functioning autonomic nervous system, which controls infant arousal - therefore long spells without infant signalling may not actually be at all desirable.

44 comments:

  1. I get this, I get all of this - but lack of sleep is hard! it would be great if you could write an article that gave suggestions on gently helping children to self settle or an article on when children might start to self settle/sleep alone.

    I say this as the mother of a three year old who has never slept more than three hours straight and still feeds at night. Oh, and whilst feeding a baby too.

    Coz there's lots on babies not sleeping - but less on children....

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  2. 'the no cry sleep solution' by Elizabeth Plantley is a good book, there is also a version for toddlers.

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  3. Does the NCSS for toddlers differ hugely from the baby one? Coz we tried the baby one to no avail....

    Thanks for the suggestion :-)

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  4. If i get a hint that my baby is going through a sleepless period due to teething, separation anxiety, cluster feeding.... i just go to bed early at night and nap in day when i can! Housework, apart from the basics become less important, and if i go out, i make sure im back for nap time. Co sleeping, as much as the professional opinion as fab ( as long as u dont drink smoke and take the safetly aspect onboard x Fab article xx

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  5. QUOTE I say this as the mother of a three year old who has never slept more than three hours straight and still feeds at night. Oh, and whilst feeding a baby too. END

    Email me if you want - I believe as I said above there is always a reason why, it's a case of identifying what it is. Happy to help you try and identify :)

    AA

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  6. I think it's important to teach your baby to be able to settle themselves to sleep - and know that bed time is sleep time. The poor mites don't know any different unless we teach them. I believe by doing this you're gifting your children with a childhood free of sleep problems(ok ok not completely free I'm not deluded! Kids do get sick and grow teeth etc but we all know our babies cries and wether they're in discomfort or simply over tired or frustrated because they can't sleep - moreover don't know how to get to sleep, right?)

    My eldest two co-slept with me and still have trouble sleeping now. I 'trained' my youngest two (yes it involved ignoring their cries) and they sleep like angels every night and are so much happier in the day because of a good nights uninterrupted sleep.

    Having said that, everyone's different and I'd never diss what anyone's doing as a parent. We ALL want what's best for our kids and all try our best too :)

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  7. Fab post. Re the comment re the three year old never having slept through. Some babies/children just need very little sleep. Our now almost 11 year old didn't sleep through regularly until she was almost four. Even now she is up with the larks and I can find her reading quietly in her bed until all hours. It's just the way she is wired. Doesn't make it very easy for the parents, I grant you, until they get old enough to amuse themselves when awake.

    And as a mum of soon to be nine children, with the eldest now adults, I can say that the sleepless nights do go by in the blink of an eye. It doesn't feel like it when you are going through it, but they really, really do!

    So try and get the best sleep you can. It doesn't matter where anyone sleeps, as long as everyone does sleep and when you have a teething, non sleeping baby/child make sleep your priority. Everything else can wait :-)

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  8. Fab article, I still feed my 13 mo th old during the night and we co sleep so half the time I feel he just nuzzles around an latches on when he likes lol, he does wake at least three times a night and we have tried many times to settle him another way but nothing works, he refuses bottles or pacifiers so it's not been easy but I know that in a few years time he will be sleeping through and in his own bed, when I had my son I knew it ment a lot of graft but the sleep deprivation can b hard when working part time and studying for a degree.I certainly couldn't imagine having another child to feed at this stage! I have two older children that slept in their own cots and slept through from 5 months so this has been a change! Although those morning snuggles and giggles really do make it easier :) Xx

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  9. QUOTE I think it's important to teach your baby to be able to settle themselves to sleep - and know that bed time is sleep time. The poor mites don't know any different unless we teach them. I believe by doing this you're gifting your children with a childhood free of sleep problems(ok ok not completely free I'm not deluded! Kids do get sick and grow teeth etc but we all know our babies cries and wether they're in discomfort or simply over tired or frustrated because they can't sleep - moreover don't know how to get to sleep, right?)

    My eldest two co-slept with me and still have trouble sleeping now. I 'trained' my youngest two (yes it involved ignoring their cries) and they sleep like angels every night and are so much happier in the day because of a good nights uninterrupted sleep.

    Hi "Anon"
    Yeah I really disagree with this :) I don't think babies need "teaching" to sleep anymore than any other animal does. I would look for other factors for your children's sleep, as I've supported hundreds of mothers over the years who haven't "sleep trained" or ignored their child's cues who all have ended up with a fantastic relationship with sleep, will happily announce when they're tired and head off to bed.

    I suspect your anecdotal evidence of two, has a lot of other factors at play aside from where they slept.

    Doris I agree to a degree :) They all are different and yep some need less sleep. To have never slept more than 3 hours in a row though by 3yr old is the far end of that I think? If a child has something compressed that is preventing them "switching off" or is reacting to a food or suchlike, there could be a reason. It may be totally normal but if everyone is struggling it certainly doesn't hurt to rule out possible reasons I think?

    AA

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  10. I stand corrected AA ;-) Of course there could be underlying reasons, i.e. allergies etc. I should have mentioned that. Too placenta brained to make much sense this morning, lol.

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  11. I can understand identifying what's keeping them awake, be it be pain, separation anxiety etc but there's little help out there to identify whatever reason and once identified - practically no help to deal with it- aside the whole train to sleep methods... if there's wind/gas/cramping- reflux meds which have made things worse in many cases, separation anxiety...for those in cots, standing by the cot and being there every waking hour.... literally every hour- other reasons unknown- just get the usual "that's kids" or "they'll grow out of it" - which when sleep deprived does bugger all to help. So I can understand why people latch on to methods that have been tried, and have worked- when desperate sense sometimes goes out the window for a little sleep...

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  12. Doris - eeeeeee but how exciting new baby soon! :D :D (I'm following on FB! lol)

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  13. Different things do work for different people, but one thing that I find a bit frustrating is the promotion by attachment parenting proponents of feeding on demand and co-sleeping as the solution to baby sleep problems. I hate to say it but it doesn't work for all kids. My son slept so badly when co-sleeping and when demand fed was constantly grumpy. I was constantly grumpy too due to lack of sleep and my husband was on the verge of leaving.

    In the end we did a fairly gentle form of sleep training and stopped feeding on demand. Things definitely improved after that, but basically he was a grumpy baby and he only really cheered up once he could walk and could participate in the world with the grown-ups.

    This is an interesting article, and I do think that more research should be done on baby's sleep patterns etc. I would like more research and advice to be available for people who want to follow the 'middle path'. Getting your kids into a routine can be really important but doing it in a more gentle way is really preferable...

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  14. Dear Sleep Trainer Expert,

    My Grandfather died a month ago and my Grandmother was still not sleeping very well until last week and she was crying a lot in the night. It's really been disturbing my sleep. She had a stroke about 2 years ago and can't walk or talk so I'm her primary carer. It's hard work but I love her, and I know it will pass but I really needed more sleep! I was desperate!

    I wanted to tell you how pleased I was to find your book "The Contented Little Baby Whisperer's guide to Saving my Sleep". Over the last few nights I've been sensible and strong. It's been tough, but we did it!

    I've put Gran onto a routine where I feed her at 7pm, and that's THAT. She's learning now that if she's thirsty in the night, she'll have to wait. I bathe her with the lights low and tuck her in bed with 16 blankets, said goodnight and left her to it. Let me tell you she didn't half complain on that first night! She cried and cried but I wasn't going to let her manipulate me. Just because she's slept next to Grandpa for the last 45 years! She has to learn to be independent from other people, I realise that now.

    I found that going in every few minutes and not giving her eye contact eventually meant she got the message. She was sick at one point which was a shock. I didn't know old people could manipulate like that! Anyway, I cleaned her up and just ignored it so she won't be trying that again.

    She seems very happy today. Well, she's quiet anyway. Not hassling me at all! Bonus.

    I can't wait to tell all my friends about your amazing system. My friend Sally has a disabled daughter who is 10 and can't talk or walk. I'm sure she'd find this system works brilliantly for her, too.

    Love your biggest fan,

    xxx

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  15. Anonymous (the second one!) - I agree that children often need to be helped to learn how to sleep/self settle. The devil in the detail is how we do it. Personally I would never want a child to cry alone - ever really, but especially at night.

    Personally I think some children are born better (or worse) sleepers than others. It's frustrating, but you go with it.

    As Dr Sears says, you can't force a child to sleep, just give an environment where it is conducive.

    (from the other anon with the 3yr old andbaby)

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  16. Loving EA's post!

    In response to a previous poster, I co-slept with my son from birth. When he was 2 years we offered him his own bed and room and he jumped at the chance and straight away was sleeping most of the night in there. Now he is 4 and he goes to sleep by 7 - if he's really tired he'll ask to go to bed even earlier - and sleeps well in his own bed usually until 5 or 6, and then joins us for an hour or two more. Sometimes he sleeps until 8 in his own bed! He is happy and secure in the knowledge that if he needs us, even at night, we'll be there. When he's ill or sad or going through emotional stuff (new sibling) he's in bed with us more, but eventually always settles back into his own bed and his own routine. What's important is that this was a routine and set up that he chose when he was ready. We didn't have to train him at all. So I really disagree with the idea that you need to teach them how to sleep, and that co-sleeping leads to sleep problems. My daughter is 2 months and co-sleeping, and so far it's going just as well as the first time, even though she's a very different baby in many other ways.

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  17. Steph - I totally agree :-)

    AA - I've emailed you!

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  18. QUOTE but one thing that I find a bit frustrating is the promotion by attachment parenting proponents of feeding on demand and co-sleeping as the solution to baby sleep problems. I hate to say it but it doesn't work for all kids. My son slept so badly when co-sleeping and when demand fed was constantly grumpy. I was constantly grumpy too due to lack of sleep and my husband was on the verge of leaving.

    In the end we did a fairly gentle form of sleep training and stopped feeding on demand. Things definitely improved after that, but basically he was a grumpy baby and he only really cheered up once he could walk and could participate in the world with the grown-ups. END

    Hi
    I don't think feeding on cue or cosleeping are the solution to sleep problems, I think they are a basic biological norm. We assume babies are grumpy because they can't do xyz, and once they can hurrah they're happy - It's not something I'm really convinced about. What makes a child without a care in the world grumpy? Why would we assume at a very young age they "wish" they could do more or something else? I think it's applying adult reasoning personally. I'm more for exploring IF there's a reason behind behaviours than tactics purely to change it - as I said the outcome may improve to suit us, but it doesn't mean any underlying cause has changed.

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    2. What makes a child "without a care in the world" grumpy is the rather scary state of being utterly incapable of meeting any of their own needs and having essentially no other choice other than to completely rely and depend on unkown quantities (parents) for their basic survival. And all this with a proto-brain that has yet to learn how to differentiate between good and bad, self and other and has no capacity to "reason" through their anxieties. I would say give it a try, but given that our brains are developed, even being placed in that admittedly concerning situation wouldn't even begin to give us a sense of how scary it is for them. "Grumpy" indeed!

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  19. Brilliant post and great comment from EA.

    I wander if you would mind if I emailed you too, my DS is 20 mths and usually sleeps for 3 hrs and then up every 2 hrs. I still bf on demand but I work 3 days a week. No idea what to look re: allergies or other cues. I guess I must be missing something. I don't want to train in anyway but I'm exhausted. Sorry to post anon couldn't work out how to do it another way. Gwen x

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  20. My daughter woke A LOT for the first 3.5 years of her life. I rarely got more than a 3 hour stretch of sleep. There were long periods where she woke every 20 minutes. I feel very strongly that there is something in between "sleep training", and "babies are all different but they don't sleep much it will pass bear with it". I encourage any mom whose child has long term sleep issues to investigate. It turned out my daughter had food intolerances. While bedtime is still not her favorite time, at 7 she now sleeps well. I am glad that we did not try to "train" her, but wish we had sorted out her health problems earlier.

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  21. My 13 mo. old was my first to sleep through the night at about 4 months. It lasted a month and then I was sick, he was sick, etc.

    I certainly do not have the personality to sleep train. Babywise saved my sanity with my first - got her to sleep 3 and 4 hour stretches but I didn't force her to sleep all night.

    In the last month my 13 month old has learned to walk, finally gotten some teeth, and started biting at the end of each nursing. He is not a good co-sleeper as he will not settle in our bed at all. I am thankful I have been able to nurse past 1 year (my mental goal at the beginning of every birth...success 4 times!) my other kids have weaned themselves about 14/15 months, but this child has ramped up his nursing in the last month.

    As much as I want to be sleeping through the night, that is less of an issue for me than the biting. I don't know what to do to stop him. My other kids got teeth younger and after one or two bites with a little flick or a stern no they figured out it was a bad idea. This boy hasn't responded to those actions. He bit very hard this morning - it still hurts quite bad - enough to make me consider weaning him NOW.

    Thanks for your help.
    Maria

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  22. this is so true..so many of my friends who swore that CC had to be done still resort it as a 'tool' with their 2.5 yr olds...it breaks my heart - i never did it and my 2yr old goes down fine each night and sleeps 10/11 hours....its is a big fat CON but again when sleep deprived some people just want a quick fix...its all about expectations...they are way too high!! Poor little bubs...

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  23. I do hate how sleeping through the night has become a yard stick for how enjoyable parenting must be. Yes, lack of sleep is akin to torture (I have four children and my 15 month old woke me up at stupid o'clock this morning, so I am very cognizant of the fact!), but there is more to raising babies than their sleep patterns.

    I have found that when I am flexible with my expectations, life is simpler. My toddler is not a good napper; she doesn't always sleep when she's tired and doesn't nap at the same times every day. For a while I was getting tense about it, but then the lightbulb turned on and I relaxed my expectations. She's still an inconsistent napper, but I'm not going to get worked up. It is what it is.

    I reckon a baby book that said "you might not get much sleep and most of the time this is normal" wouldn't sell very well!

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  24. Yeah, I do agree that sleep training is a most unpleasant thing to do to a baby . I have never tried it and never will as to my mind it is cruel.

    However I have to say I do agree that not all babies happily co-sleep. From experience with my five I found that for the most part co-sleeping was a lovely experience but that the 5th child just woke up constantly from being by me and would not want to settle on or near me, (said child was also a dreadful feeder and also refused my breast at 9 months old!) I was mortified as I had spent so long telling my new husband (his first child) how great co-sleeping was and how healthy and how I never used a cot and then this baby at about 4 months old slept like and angel on the floor by my bed one night and never would go back in my bed!!

    Definatly some children like to defy logic lol

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  25. Interesting article. I think it tends to be so easy for people who (a) have grown children and/or (b) had great sleepers to begin with to judge other moms harshly. For us it's not nighttime sleep, but naps that are the problem. And my son screams like a banshee whether he's in the crib or in my arms. I was on the fence before, but am most definitely never having another baby. I don't enjoy this and can't wait for him to be old enough to sleep better. People with good babies have no bloody clue how awful it is to hear your child scream all day, and if CIO works then I am doing it.

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  26. Hi "Anon"
    My first wasn't a sleeper, we had problems both with nightsleep and naps; but crying in arms is very different to crying alone: http://www.awareparenting.com/comfort.htm
    I think they key is working out why the child is screaming all day, rather than just leaving them to get on with it - lets hope your son doesn't take the same attitude should you be dependent on him when elderly!

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  27. My 21 month old son still wakes every 1-2 hours but I would never consider controlled crying! I understand how hard I it is but I could never destroy his trust in me that I will be there when he needs me.

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  28. My son's a dreadful napper, although fortunately he sleeps OK at night (touch wood!). I have left him to cry on a couple of occasions, when the crying has just become too much to deal with. I always said I would never leave him to cry, but the reality is that it's hard when an exhausted and miserable baby just won't shut their eyes, or shuts them but opens them again the second you stop feeding them.

    That being said, just because on those couple of occasions he's fallen asleep after a cry, doesn't mean I would choose to subject either of us to it regularly, or advocate it as a 'good' method.

    And as much as I understand that it's better for them to cry in your arms than alone, when he's clawing at my skin and trying to push away from me as well as screaming, I can't see how that's a better option really. I overstimulate him I think, so how do you deal with that?

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  29. For "anon" who said "I don't enjoy this and can't wait for him to be old enough to sleep better. People with good babies have no bloody clue how awful it is to hear your child scream all day, and if CIO works then I am doing it."

    I agree with AA that you should think about looking into underlying issues as to why he's screaming all day. And dont perpetuate the myth that more sleep=good baby. It doesnt. My son screams when I even start walking toward his room where his crib is. The closest thing I ever do to cio is put him in there when I know according to all his cues that he's ready to sleep. He cries in protest when put down but most of the time is asleep by the time I'm out of the room and closing the door. If he doesnt stop in 5 minutes, I know he's not going to stop, so I go get him because my instincts tell me to. I get how frustrating it is. When my son doesnt nap, I get no break at all. I'm a full time mom, I never get any time away save for a short trip to the store when daddy's home. So there are days it's a constant, nap-free, break-free job. But hey, that's called BEING A PARENT. Sorry if that seems harsh, but we all know that sleep deprivation is part of having a baby. People who value their sleep that highly should not have babies, plain and simple. Parenting should never be about what's convenient for the parent as opposed to what's right for the child. If I was screaming alone in a room, I would want someone to come get me and comfort me, even if I was crying for no reason. Anon, I really do feel for you in your situation, I really do. But have you thought about the possibility that your frustration is making it hard for you to properly comfort your child when he needs it?

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  30. For Anon 3 above:
    The article above does not judge parents harshly...it simply states the detrimental facts. I've had the screaming baby that wouldn't nap and in the end it was due to silent reflux. I don't even want to imagine what I could have put my little girl through had I thought to CC! Screaming babies are not normal. My sister gave me wise advice when I had my first child and it has always stuck with me: "Babies don't just cry. There is always a reason."

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  31. Hi Anon, babies do cry for a reason. If yours is crying all day. There may be something wrong? Mine did too and had reflux. I researched what was happening and talked to people about it and asked about it, and we worked it out. The medication was like having a different baby, as they say.

    It will pass. I used to keep repeating this line to myself - "the single most important influence on a child's intellectual development was the responsiveness of the mother to the cues of her baby. "

    http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/attachment-parenting/7-benefits-ap

    I'd never do CIO or CC, even when he only slept 15 to 45 mins at a time over night for 3 months. He's such a pleasure now, such a confident, secure baby. It's worth it.

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  32. Thanks for another excellent article, AA.

    I have been BF and co-sleeping with my DD for 9 months now. It wasn't what I had planned, but I followed my instincts and quickly binned all the baby training books I had bought when pregnant.

    Although I have read extensively about CIO and have wholeheartedly rejected it (and love to snuggle with my baby all night long) some days I feel like a complete failure because I seem to be the only person I know who doesn't feel comfortable with CIO. I go to playgroup every week and listen to the other mums discussing how they've used various methods (all of which involve crying) to get their children to sleep, and get a sinking feeling that I'm a crap parent because I can't bring myself to do the same. I don't tell anyone that I sleep with my baby because I know that they'll think something has gone terribly wrong... and this is what really upsets me! I hate living in a society which thinks that it's wrong for babies to sleep alongside their mothers, and right for them to be left alone and crying. Why do I have to pretend that I've trained my baby too? Why is my baby not as good as the others, even though she has the most sunny, adorable personality, because she sometimes spends all night attached to my breast??

    If only this article represented the mainstream approach :-(

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  33. My 11 month old son is one of these "terrible sleepers". We didn´t seem to sleep at all for a long while. When he was 4 month we finally got a sling and he now sleeps on me during the day. So at least he is not so grumpy, overtired and fussy the rest of the day. Funnily enough MORE daytime sleep has improved his nighttime sleep too (or maybe it is the constant cuddle of the sling). We tried Gina Ford at the beginning as the feeding schedule was supposed to help with the colics, but have always co-slept. I now feed on demand and co-sleep but have moved him from in my bed to a 3-walled cot right next to my bed. So he can have a little space but still benefit from the breathing pacemaker etc. I am dreading starting full-time work again in a couple of weeks. The nursery have assured me there is no CC or CIO but I am still worried as he has never slept anywhere else than literally on me during the day. Any tips how I can gently assure him that it is okay to sleep on a mattress in a room with other people always around? I prefer to teach him myself than not know what is going to happen to him during the day. And, please no judgement about going back to work. I have regrets but have none of my savings left and barely know how to fill the fridge at the moment. I have also exhausted all family financial support so I really need to make some money now, as bad as it sounds.

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    1. I am in the same situation! Back to work in just over a week and my 11 month old has only fallen asleep without me twice (not counting falling asleep in the car!). I am feeling very anxious about the whole thing, very worried that she will be distressed.
      Any advice gratefully accepted.

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  34. Thank you for this!!

    My nephew essentially co-slept with my sister,though she didn't know that's what she was doing. It was a necessity in her very small apartment to share the one bedroom and she couldn't physically get around well after her c-section so he just stayed in bed with her and her boyfriend made up the bottles (he was formula fed for a variety of reasons) for her to feed to my nephew. I got physical custody of him around 9 or 10 months old and legal custody at 14 months and we room shared, often bed-shared, because we, again, didn't really have room not to (roommate in a 2 bedroom apartment that changed to us in a 1 bedroom apartment with him. We weren't planning on having a child in our life at that point but ya gotta roll with it, you know?). We've since bought a 3 bedroom house and at 3 1/2 years old, my nephew sleeps on his own in his own bed, all night, no problem. I never "trained" him to sleep, or self soothe, or any of that because I was *very* concerned about his abandonment issues which he DEFINITELY has as a result of all of this. When he would wake up at night, I got him (his crib was in our room). If he wakes up now he comes to me but that's rare (mostly after visitation with a parent or during sickness).

    I actually think that my getting up with him when he was still waking up to eat in his youngest months with me helped us avoid the worst of abandonment problems as an "older" kid (he was returned to his parents for a brief period around 2 years old and then came back with us...ugh...) because he is more securely attached to me than anyone else in his life. I followed (and still do with both of them) attachment parenting techniques, including avoiding sleep training, because of my concern for my nephew's abandonment issues thanks to his parents. Do I/Have I gotten a whole lot less sleep? Yeah. But I have a pretty happy 3 year old and very alert and calm (mostly...he's got his moments) 1 month old as a result so I'm OK with it.

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  35. Been following this blog on and off, not because I have a baby of my own, but because the mother of my godson loves it.

    I must say, It's a wonder I survived infanthood. I slept next to my parents' bed from the start, in my own cot. At around 3mo I was left, for a night, at my grandparents' and slept through the night for the first time. At 6mo mum stopped breastfeeding, which I apparently was quite happy with since food was so much more interesting. I slept in my own room from about 1 yo. Oh, and as soon as I could turn around by myself, I slept in a crawling position.

    Lo and behold, I still live!

    Okay, so end sarcasm, but, as someone commented, "animals don't sleep train their young" Oh yes they do. And quite violently on occation. But then again, many of these animals have a normal sleeping pattern that is more similar to the feeding needs of their offspring. Or perhaps it's the other way around?

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  36. I guess some people want their children to do more than just "survive"? I knew children who grew up on a diet mainly consisting of chips, crisps and brightly coloured pop. Their parents smoked like chimneys in the house and they were never breastfed. They survived therefore this is desirable? That therefore means there is no harm, that we should abandon breastfeeding, healthy diets, healthy living because we can "survive" without?

    Nothing like long term thinking and understanding the link between infancy and adult health - end sarcasm.

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  37. Not really sure what Anonymous's point is?

    Anon co-slept (despite not bed sharing) with parents for a year, was breastfed for 6 months, and once s/he was able to choose a position did so. Doesn't that put anonymous in the "optimally cared for" bracket on most counts?

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    1. Anonymous hasnt got a point just an ignorant view point which is very self centered. Jen has also got a good point by pointing out Anon was cared for more than most sleep trained babies. Also interested to know what animals violently sleep train their young? this is a new one for me.

      It seems to me that Anon just wanted to get a word in there, bet she has in her status all about lead paint on her cot , in her food , eating mattress foam for dinner at night and sleeping face down in her toxic baby mattress and survived just to rub it in the faces of parents whos babies did die of SIDS. Well round of applause to you for "surviving". Your parents done the best they knew then, today's parents are doing the best they know now. Quit pissing on it and making up fake facts.

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