Sleep training - The "cry-it-out" method and why we don't agree with it.
Lately there has been a lot of discussion on sleep training. I thought I should pen down few of my thoughts regarding "cry-it-out" sleep training where the parent does not respond to the child's crying. Making changes in their routines, adjusting wake-window..all that is fine in order to help them sleep better but certainly not non-responsive sleep training.
This is not to offend anyone because everyone has their right to choose what works for them. Perhaps, this is for those who didn't sleep train their babies and to those who didn't want to sleep train but now after seeing these posts you think you should. No, mammas you're doing it right. Don't ever regret your decision. Here is why...
Babies or toddlers are not meant to sleep on their own. They're not developmentally ready for that. And no one (including adults) sleeps through the night. We all wake up at least once for some or the other reason. Babies have biological needs and for babies there are so many reasons why they wake up; teething, growth spurt, hitting mile stone, some discomfort, fear, night terror, needing to be near a patent etc...and they need their parents to attend to them and give them the assurance that they are there for them. These biological needs should not be viewed as problems.
These need to be supported through a healthy attachment relationship. No amount of training will change your baby's biological needs. They don't know to manipulate you. They don't know to play a game. They simply need you. Because you're their safe haven!
So what happens when parents sleep train a baby is that they are trying to limit baby's responsiveness. Though their biological needs still exist when babies are trained they stop signalling their needs. You let the baby cry (this is what MOST of the methods teach) without attending their needs. Even the so called gentle sleep training approach too mostly has this. Without baby shedding tears you can't sleep train them. So even when your motherly instinct tells you to go and attend the baby you're not supposed to go and you're told that babies should learn to 'self-sooth' which is a big lie.
What happens is when you don't attend to them when they need you, they cry and cry waiting for you to come and when you don't show up they get tired, their system shut down and they fall asleep.
But parents have no idea of the mental stress and physiological impact this has on a child. They make up their minds and console themselves as even if they cry their mum or dad will not come and they learn not to express their emotions. They learn to suppress their needs and feelings. Needless to say the impacts this brings in a child as it grows up. And as the child grows up don't expect your child to come to you for any support/guidance or any kind of help because they know they cant expect that from you. If you think sleep training is a western concept, now you begin to see the trend is changing and lot of people out their are against it. Please don't get caught in these traps.
Yes, I know parenting is hard with countless sleepless nights. But remember you're not just raising a child but a generation. So, if you want a strong, independent, emotionally a healthy child, attend to them every time they need you. The more they are attached the more they feel secure as they grow up. Later you can sit back and look at the little human being proudly and give yourself a pat on your shoulder saying you have done a good job momma/dada because you're their safe haven!
Written for mumsincolombo by one of our members