Put a Bib on It

Sleep Training Doesn’t Make You a Bad Parent


We haven’t taken the plunge into sleep training Miss E, and the more I think about it, the more I feel like we won’t. I’m paranoid about compromising my supply (she still wakes very hungry twice a night to nurse), and she’s not a bad sleeper, generally. She goes down for naps without too much fuss, and usually right back to sleep after she nurses at night.

But honestly, I’m a wimp. And I feel like I should take advantage of the fact that we don’t have to sleep train her before she’s ready to sleep through the night on her own. I work mostly from home, which means I don’t usually have to be somewhere in the morning, and can share her long morning nap with her if I’m really feeling like a zombie.

But whether you choose to sleep train or not (and it’s a question we all must tackle, and often in the bleary-eyed wee hours of the morning), I was really moved by this piece. Namely, the writer’s sentiment that “when we sign up for parenthood, we don’t expect to be excused from our responsibility to our children between the hours of 7pm and 7am.” The things is, none of the fabulous mamas I know aren’t present for their children when they’re sleep training. They’re toughing it out in the next room and maybe crying themselves.

I don’t think any parent should feel guilty for the very few times we can choose self-care over infant care. A mom or dad who is putting in forty plus hours a week at work and getting up several times a night isn’t being the best parent they can be. I know the nights that Miss E has really run me ragged, I end up lying on the couch the next morning in my pajamas, hardly able to turn the pages of one of her fuzzy cloth books and hoping she’ll go down for an early nap. Not some of my best moments. But I’m doing what works for us right now, and that’s ultimately what every parent has to do.

We all have to make such hard choices, I just can’t see the point in being hard on each other, too.

Author: Jillian Kuhlmann

Mama. Nerd. Writer.

7 thoughts on “Sleep Training Doesn’t Make You a Bad Parent

  1. I think sleep training has such a negative connotation to it. Sleep training doesn’t have to equal “cry it out.” My husband I chose to sleep train our son. Our goals were for our son to stop needing his pacifier replaced 20,000 time a night, and for us to be able to put him down in his crib at night with him still awake.
    The pacifier use we stopped cold turkey when he was 5 months old, and while the first 2 or 3 days/nights were rough, we’ve had no problems since. We were able to wean him off of it completely in a weekend. And I have to say that I’m so glad that we did it!
    Putting him down at night took a little longer. I’d lay him down in his crib when he was done nursing for the night, and I’d sit out of his sight. As soon as he started to cry, I go over and pick him up and smooth him, but if he was only fussing, I waited to see if he could figure out how to put himself to sleep. Eventually, he got it. We now lay him down to go to sleep every night when he’s awake. And within 5 minutes of doing that, he puts himself to sleep.
    Even now, when he’s 9 months old, if he’s crying, we go in to see what’s wrong and hold and sooth him or I nurse him to get him to calm down and go back to sleep.
    Sleep training does not make you a bad parent. I chose to look at it from the perspective that I’m teaching my baby good sleep habits.

    • I love this! I think sleep training definitely looks different for every family, too, and is extremely rarely the baby crying for hours unattended (the negative connotation you’re talking about). And I have to admit that I’m not comfortable with that scenario, for all I believe it is probably not what sleep training really looks like for most families. Sometimes I won’t go in when my daughter is just crabbing… but if she starts to cry, I’ll attempt to soothe her from her bedside before picking her up and nursing her if that’s truly what she needs. So, maybe I am sleep training after all!

  2. Sleep deprivation can do crazy things to a mama so I *try* to reserve judgement about parents who opt for CIO methods of sleep training. But my anti-CIO method has led to an opposite problem . . .

    When my 22-month old wakes through the night, he is SO quiet. I’ll lay there for a few minutes, listening to him on the baby monitor thinking “Is he awake? I think he’s going to settle himself. Nope, he just whispered Mama. Oh but now it’s quiet again. But nope I can hear him pacing back and forth while holding onto this crib rail.” Then I go into his room and he wraps his arms around my neck as I pick him up. And my heart melts.

    So this is our strange routine. I sometimes think that I’m preventing him from learning to sleep on his own. I sometimes think that I should just wait and see how long it takes for him to cry. But, in the end, the quickest path for me and him to get back to sleep is for me to just go to him. This is what works for us so this is the right choice for us.

    • “This is what works for us so this is the right choice for us.” This is us, exactly. And I just said practically the same thing to a friend, that I do what is going to get both of us back to sleep the quickest, which is often just to nurse my daughter.

      I’m thinking of something another friend said, who has a much older child and an infant: they all do everything eventually. I think that includes sleeping through the night. If not at six months, hopefully by sixteen 🙂

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