My Maternal Instinct Won’t Let Me Sleep Train
Does sleep training cause you to ignore your motherly instincts?
First of all, I am the very first person to say that sleep training is not for everyone. Some moms like the idea of co-sleeping or the family bed. Some mothers want to nurse baby through the night until he naturally weans himself. And some simply don’t mind helping baby back to sleep. And that’s wonderful. If it works, it works. It’s a practice that’s done in many, many cultures around the world and can provide a warm, nocturnal bonding experience for mother and for baby.
For the rest of us, it can be hellish. Sleep deprivation and endless attempts to get baby to fall back asleep combine to form a living nightmare that won’t go away.
You have to do what feels right for you. No one is forcing you to sleep train your baby. You have the choice to be up multiple times a night with your baby. If you’re at the point where you can’t function from exhaustion, you have the choice and the right to make things better for your family.
Sleep training is teaching your baby to learn a new skill. And just like any other form of teaching your child something new, it’s much, much easier to do it for them.
Whether he is learning to tie his shoes, brush his teeth, or ride a two-wheeler, we can do it – and we can do it better. And when we take over, our child doesn’t learn.
So if your maternal instinct tells you that you just can’t bear to hear your child struggle while he learns to sleep on his own, and you just want to do the work for him, then sleep training isn’t for you.
There are some parents who have extremely low thresholds for hearing their baby cry, even when standing right there next to the crib!
If you understand that tears are the sign of a struggle, of frustration, as your baby learns a new skill, then you can teach your baby independent sleep skills.
A lot of the work in parenting is overcoming what comes naturally to us (losing patience, yelling, stepping in to do it better) and learning to take a step back. Taking deep breaths and watching our children grow as we support them on the side stage.
Not a Sage on the Stage, but a Guide on the Side.
Depending on what you prefer, you can tweak your sleep training method to suit your parenting philosophy. There are many different ways to teach a baby how to sleep and you can certainly find one that works for you.
With the understanding that sleep is a skill that your baby will learn on her own, you can teach your child how to sleep independently so you, she and the rest of your sleep-deprived family can get some solid zzzz’s each night.