Hey folks, this post is a continuation from an Instagram post that I decided to merge with the blog so that I can get into more detail about this topic. It’s a big jump from my last farm diaries post but I want to share this little failure of ours to help normalize this idea of “sleep training” for mom’s out there that are feeling overwhelmed like I was. So if this topic is of no interest to you, I will be back with a recipe later this week! I also plan to do more “farm diaries” posts that are catching up to where we are today so this is a bit out of order but I have had a lot of mom’s reaching out to me recently so I want to just go out on a limb and share my experience.
Team Sleep training drop outs! Yep, that’s us. And I am 100 percent okay with our failure at attempting to “sleep train” our 8 month old. Am I tired as hell? You betcha. But I feel pretty darn at peace with our new acceptance of knowing that we’re going to be up a lot at night during this season of life. If I’m being honest, I was semi pressured into sleep training our daughter. When I was sharing with friends, family members and a few “experts” on the internet about how often we were up at night (which is a LOT) nursing or rocking Pepper back to sleep I gave into the idea that we needed outside help. Besides, people were saying things like “you just need to let her cry it out.” “She’s 8 months now, she should be sleeping through the night. Have you talked to your pediatrician?” “Did you know that it’s a major NO NO to nurse or rock your baby to sleep? It encourages bad habits and dependence on you. Put her down drowsy but not asleep!! You’ll learn!” I started to doubt myself. As a first time mom was I being too “soft?”
Before I dive into this incredibly triggering topic I want to start off by saying EVERYONE needs to do what is best for them, their baby and their particular situation. No family or baby is the same. And I think we can all agree that every parent is just trying to stay afloat and do the best they can. I stopped judging parents the day I became one and this post is not meant to shame or alienate anyone. This is just my experiences, it’s the only one I know. We are all on the same team. And if sleep training worked for you, HELL YEAH! I’m so happy you’re all getting well deserved rest. For anyone else deep in the sleep struggle trenches, I’m with you and hopefully my takeaway can offer some comfort.
It was out of desperation, self doubt, and a tiredness that was so deep it made my bones hurt that I signed up for a very popular online course with a supposedly (almost) 100 percent success rate. This course and the woman who founded it were praised as a godsend to thousands of families and her “gentle” guide was aimed to “train” our daughter into becoming an independent sleeper. I was encouraged to wean my baby from night feedings–which made me really nervous on so many levels. Would my milk supply drop? What if she really was hungry? And if she wasn’t hungry, wasn’t it still okay to sooth and comfort her with a night feeding? (The answer was a HARD NO). I ignored my gut, paid money (I know….) and dove head first into sleep training. The course promised improvement within the first 3-4 nights (though you’re encouraged to do the full thing for 14 days).
It was on night 6 (after 5 full nights of complete torture) at approximately 2am when I officially quick sleep training. Not only was our baby getting progressively worse every night, but this course went against every motherly instinct I have. It was basically a cry it out method that was packaged as the opposite of that. Needless to say, my daughter wasn’t the only one crying all night long. The night I caved, I went in to nurse my sweet baby for the first time in what felt like a million nights of ignoring her hunger cues and that nursing reunion was one of the best feelings in the world. As a new mom, I question almost everything I do. But I’ll tell you one thing, nursing/feeding and rocking my baby to sleep is the most biologically natural thing I do as her mom. The damn pressure to get these little babies to be “independent sleepers”, “self soothers”, or to simply leave them be to “cry it out” just doesn’t work for me. She’s only 8 months old. She’s barley been earth side. Of course she still needs her mom and dad for comfort and reassurance. Crying is her only form of language. I can’t ignore that.
So why am I sharing all of this? I’m sharing this because I want to normalize that sleep training isn’t for everyone. It’s not a right of passage for new, overly tired moms. Becoming a mom is (shocker!) incredibly tiring. Babies cry. Some are up ALL night long, even at 8 months (that’s us!) But if all the boxes are checked (baby is healthy, mom is mentally stable and dad (or partner) is on board to support, then guess what? This is motherhood. Once I took the pressure off of us to “sleep through the night” getting up with Pepper multiple times a night is just what we do. There’s no good nights or bad nights. There’s just nights that blur together where I’m up with my baby. Sometimes I see her a lot, some nights I don’t see her as much. It just ebbs and flows and I’m more secure in knowing this is how it is. I think society has put so much pressure on new moms and their young babies to “get back to it” and “not skip a beat”. I don’t know many people who go back to work at 6 weeks or 3 months postpartum who feel supported to talk about how god damn tired they are. In fact, they’re terrified to be honest. They just need to pretend they can do it all. Our society and culture is failing us.
I realize I’m incredibly privileged to be able to be home with my young baby. I work from home and straight from my property. I didn’t farm much this season because we hired extra help so I could be with Pepper. However, I was deep in the final edits of my latest cookbook when Pepper was 5 weeks old. I was so tired while editing and staring at my computer screen made me feel like I was on drugs. Nothing made sense. In fact, I was terrified that I didn’t have it in me to finish what I had started over 2 years before. I thought I was going to need to hand back my book advance and say “I know I made it 90 precent of the way, but I just can’t finish this last 10 percent. I’m too anxious and tired. Here’s all your money back.” So I know what it’s like to be so tired, desperate and overwhelmed. It sucks. And there’s not a lot of support around this topic.
I’m fortunate that I was able to finish my book edits, my mom was able to come relieve me and help with the baby so I could finish. But still, I think about this often. That is why so many mom’s rely on programs like sleep training. We’re desperate to hold onto our jobs, our promises, our old selves.
I’m actually bummed at myself for giving into that idea that we needed to sleep train. The best advice (and only advice) I’ll take to heart moving forward about motherhood is this– Trust your baby. Trust your gut. If it feels wrong to leave your baby in a crib “crying it out” go in there! Sooth, nurse, sing, kiss your baby! These “experts” telling us that it’s a hard NO to go in and sooth our crying baby because it encourages bad habits is complete BS. It goes against nature, biology, motherly instinct. Of course I want to raise a strong, independent daughter who has the confidence to tackle the world with grace, courage and love. But at 8 months old, I think I can be at peace and not beat myself up for being too “soft” and comforting her throughout the night. I understand why these programs were created and how they’ve saved so many moms and families in the sleep department. So if it worked for you HELL YEAH!!! I’m so happy for you. For anyone else who is feeling like a failure in the whole sleep department I want you to know this, you’re not alone and it’s actually really REALLY normal to be up a lot these first few months and years with our babes. If you’re up in the middle of the night feeling desperate and alone just know there are millions of us awake with you at that exact moment singing, kissing, and nursing our sweet babies to sleep. We’re in this together! The pressure that society has on mom’s and their babies today is ridiculous. And rest assured all you tired mom’s out there, one day, just like every other human in the world, our baby’s will learn to fall asleep on their own and stay asleep. And when that day comes I guarantee we’ll probably be up all night missing them.
Sending so much love, grace and patience to all of you new, overtired mamas out there.
My favorite quote that I heard for motherhood is “if it’s not a problem for you, it’s not a problem”. That’s helped me filter out so much of the advice and comparisons that it’s easy to get when you’re talking to others! Thanks for sharing your experience and having empathy for both sides.
Exactly! I say that all the time!
My boys are 14,11, 4, and 9 months, we’ve co slept and nursed on demand with all four. My older boys are happy, healthy, and well adjusted. They aren’t spoiled or overly clingy and yet relatives especially still act as if we are crazy for not “setting healthy boundaries” and putting the littles in their own beds. It’s fascinating to me that the same people who go on and on about how great/kind/smart my older kids are don’t see a correlation between how they were treated when they were little and how I am raising the younger ones now. Crying it out has always gone against everything in me, too! Hang in there! You’ve got this! They do outgrow it, and then you will somehow find yourself missing those late night cuddle sessions. Trust your gut for sure!!
As a fellow TCB dropout who is currently rocking my baby to sleep for a nap as he coos on my shoulder, I want to thank you for this ❤️ I 100% agree – after removing the pressure to “get it right”, I actually started to look forward to seeing my baby for night feeds and big sleepy smiles instead of resenting him for not being in that 98% success category (a number that seems highly inaccurate).
Amen!! Also- I found it very interesting that TCB has like ZERO negative reviews. I’ve looked and cant’ seem to find any which I think is bizarre and kind of a red flag. I know it’s worked for so many but that percentage seems outrageous. Sending love to you mama!!
Thank you both for your stories. I just failed miserably at doing the TCB, mostly because I was struggling with it from the beginning on what to do about my daughter’s sleep and rushed in to trying to find a solution. I thought my daughter needed to feed at 2am and 4am when I started sleep training and I worried I would continue to not get any sleep so I pushed her to get down to one feed on my schedule (dream feed at 10:30pm) as per the program’s instructions. Well after two early mornings of crying I caved and then we had to spend three more nights breaking her habit of waking early for the 10:30pm feed. I feel so terrible that I put my daughter and husband through hell. Now that I have let her be, she is only waking once or twice and night and goes back to sleep after a feed… This lesson has taught me to trust my baby and even though my health and sleep are important, there are other ways to get there.
Bravo! You and your baby know what’s best for you and no one else. Period end of story. Thank you for sharing your experience ❤️
Love you for sharing this! I’ve had two babies (now 5 and 1.5) and I only follow the rule “never wake a sleeping baby” If you babe is gaining weight that’s all that matters! Both of my kiddos are very different. They have their OWN rhythms and this season will end. My goodness they are GROWING every day! I say enjoy them, love them, do the basics check when they wake up (diaper, hungry), and then CUDDLE because one day they won’t and I’ll be crying then too. Also, same laid back approach to eating. One days its all beige food, then next all the love for broccoli. Kids are weird and this ride is a trip. enjoy it.
Oh man. Your heart and momma intuition are spot on! Way to go! Your truth made me cry! Thanks for being real!
Thank you so much for this! It’s exactly what I needed to read today. My 11 month old is nowhere near sleeping through the night. We sleep together and he nurses as much as he needs through the night, which is often a lot. Especially right now as he is teething and I swear he is trying to push all of his little teeth through at once. Self doubt creeps in through the cracks left by sleep deprivation and I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. But like you have said, anything else goes against every motherly bone in my body. Your post has given me the confidence and encouragement to continue shamelessly loving the shit out of my little one!
Thank you so much for this post!!! I have a 6 week old and had watched the TCB videos before he was born, but now that he’s here, I just can’t follow through! He eats every 1-2 hours and I would never want to put his feedings on a schedule to try to match some sleep plan. Anyways, my plan totally changed and we are going with feeding on demand and cosleeping and it is working well for us. I 100% agree that they are still getting used to being earth-side and shouldn’t be expected to eat on a schedule and learn to sleep on their own ASAP. I also agree that maternity/paternity leave is so pathetic in the US that it makes sense for parents to try to find some order so they can still function. There’s so many layers to unpack here and so much improvement needed both from a structural stand point (why don’t we have a year or more paid leave like they do in Europe?) and from a community aspect of acknowledging that every parent and every baby is different and will need different things! A one size fits all approach doesn’t make sense and we should be supporting one another to do what’s best for our families.
My kids are 16 & 17 now, and the one and only fact I have learned along the way is all kids (Unless outside reasons) eventually learn to sleep through the night, in their own bed, use a toilet, stop using a binky/bottle/thumb/soothie etc. Everyone has an opinion on how to get there, but like you said, ignore the noise and trust your gut. You’ll get where you want to be with a lot less stress.
Thank you so much for posting your experience with this hot topic. I too was so unsure with my first, but also eventually followed my mama instincts and releasing myself of any pressure to have a perfect sleeping baby made a world of difference. That baby is now nine and I can hardly wake him once he’s out and he is happy now to sleep in his own bed, falling asleep reading a book. It’s now only once – a – week or so that he comes over to us to cuddle. Soon that will disappear altogether. Our 6 year old also needed me a lot the first year, but he also now sleeps through the night. Now our third, 14 months, has some ready nights, some not so… but I know one day he will sleep through just like his brothers. And I wish the US would honor families by allowing and respecting when parents decide to stay home longer. I live in Germany where we have 12 months of paid maternity leave (including for self-employed workers like yourself) and a guarantee to return back to your job. Our we can take a second year off, with job guarantee, but no pay in that second year. What does is moms good, does our children good, does society good. Why does it always have to be made hard? Taking time off to care for children is not being a wimp, not being lazy. Keep following your instincts, “listen” to your daughter, you’ve got this! This phase of sleeplessness will too pass and you won’t ruin her.
Oh, Andrea! Pepper is just beautiful!! What an enchanting child… I remember those nighttime feedings with such nostalgia. Everything was quiet in the house except for little suckling noises. It was bliss looking back, tired or not. Glad you and Taylor are doing what feels right for YOU and PEPPER! Enjoy every step! Can’t wait to meet her! Love from Lucy and Brian in Concord
I was with you on feeling the pressure, but I really treasured those moments at night, nursing my baby boy to sleep. Was I tired? Yup. I bought a backlit E-Reader and used those late night hours to read, or sing to him, or just doze and snuggle. We never officially trained. We let him tell us when he was ready. Though the game-changer for us was that Magic Merlin suit. Once he quit waking himself up (he’s an active sleeper), he slept longer and longer. Trust your gut and trust lil Pepper’s cues! You’re doing great! The number one advice I give to other new moms, now that mine is 4, is to ignore 99% of the advice you get! You’ll know what to do!
What ever works, works! I have 2 kids, age 17 and 20. My first was rough. He had a lot of challenges that started to get ironed out once he went to his (wonderful, amazing, still my best parent-mentor) licensed home childcare provider. She sensed in him his need for structure, almost a rigid need for structure and his huge sleep requirement (due to his easily over-stimulated nervous system, which was formally addressed with occupational therapy at age 4). I was flailing, sleep deprived, and sick. I had been sick from the 3rd week back at work for the next 3 months. My wonderful childcare provider handed me the Ferber book when my son was 6 months old and told us to read it and consider it – she felt it might help us get into a groove at home. Our son was thriving in at childcare, where he was eating well, happy, slept on a schedule and rarely ever cried. At home on my days off, weekends and every evening was NOT like that – other than nursing which he preferred if I was available, but even then, he would start/stop and fuss and be grumpy about 50% of the time. So, despite my anxiety about letting him cry, we did the whole sleep training thing. It was literally life changing for us and he was sleeping well through the night, plus 2 solid naps at home the third night. He stopped being so fussy all day at home and nursed happily and became much more interested in everything at home, just like at childcare. My second child was completely different in personality, sensitivity and structure needs so we never even had to address the sleep issue. It slowly happened on its own when she was ready – but she also didn’t seem completely miserable all day long like her older brother had been as an infant.
My point in telling my story is to say you did nothing wrong in trying it, even if your gut was against it…sometimes our guts are wrong; however, it sucks that you felt so pressured to force the sleep issue. I had the opposite experience with everyone around me (including our doctor) telling me that sleep training was a bad idea. Only my childcare provider suggested trying it – and she didn’t pressure us, just told us to think about it. Its not good or bad that it didn’t work for you, as long as you still have a happy baby that eats well and engages/enjoys the world around her the rest of the time. I’m sure she will eventually sleep through the night all kids do 🙂
P.S. Love the new cookbook – everything we’ve tried so far has been excellent!!
Trust your gut! As a mom of two now teenagers (!!), I totally remember attempting cry-it-out and deciding (like you) that I could handle some night wakings. I wanted to hold, nurse, rock, and sing to my babies. And although I was tired, it was also a season. It didn’t last forever! Now, all these years later, I remember the tiredness but I also treasure the tenderness and connection, the way time slowed down. Trust your own instincts, your inner knowing. Don’t judge or compare yourself to other moms. Adapt and learn along the way, and take care of your own sweet self! Learn from your unique baby how to be the mama they need. That’s the first and hardest lesson of motherhood. Thank you for sharing! You’ve got this!
Thank you so much for sharing, Andrea. Sleep training has worked for my six month old and family but even so, there are so many traps that take away the innate desire we all have to nurture and love on our babies. I had a deep down intuition that she was fine and old enough to work through it, but it wasn’t until that moment that we could all move together. I was so consumed with “wake windows” that it was taking away my joy in spending time with my baby. Sometimes all the theories need to go out the window for precious, present time with our kiddos.
Thank you for sharing what worked for you and your family. <3
Thank you so much for sharing, Andrea. Sleep training has worked for my six month old and family but even so, there are so many traps that take away the innate desire we all have to nurture and love on our babies. I had a deep down intuition that she was fine and old enough to work through it, but it wasn’t until that moment that we could all move together. I was so consumed with “wake windows” that it was taking away my joy in spending time with my baby. Sometimes all the theories need to go out the window for precious, present time with our kiddos.
Thank you so much for sharing! We moved from Oregon to Finland when our daughter was five months old and found that culturally they have so much more tolerance for/understanding of children’s natural development at this young age. There is no Finnish version of letting babies “cry it out”… perhaps a result of their highly supportive policies for families (ie. paid maternity leave for nine months, followed by high-quality universal early childhood education and care). Hopefully we will get there someday (yay for universal preschool starting in Multnomah County!!), but for now thank you for illuminating how the values of our larger society play out in the everyday lives of parents… and for placing this blame on our broken system rather than on individual moms and their sweet tiny babes.
I love this post. My son is 5. He never slept through the night. I tried sleep training once and it was just torture. I knew it wasn’t right for us. I had so many people make me feel weak or crazy. He sleeps in his bed now. He sleeps through the night too. I miss that stage all the time. Just enjoy every step. It all changes so quickly. I wouldn’t take back a single night that I held him in my arms and rocked him back to sleep. I would give anything to have one of those nights again.
I firmly believe in trusting your gut. As a mom of a 20 yo and 14 yo, I co-slept with and nursed both my boys far beyond any “time frame” many believed was “appropriate.” And we did tons of Kangaroo Care, which helped us both sleep at times. And truth be told, they both still snuggle in when they need it, which nowadays during the pandemic is often. We just fall back into each other’s arms and embrace the comfort and warmth. I am really glad you did what felt right for you and your family. That’s so important.
I am so sorry you felt pressured to ignore your love for your child. I was told to wean my son at 12 months and to let him cry and self-soothe. My son is now 40 years old. And to this day, I regret withholding comfort from my child. I so wish I could go back and cuddle and love him and let him know I was a safe place in this world for him. Growing up is hard enough without the insistence on changing our biology.
My children are now 30 and 33 and I can tell you that what you wrote is music to my ears. I followed my intuition and basically did what you have chosen and I can happily attest that my children turned out to be loving and healthy and empathetic human beings. How brave of you to speak out and share your story! Yay! I was compelled to read this, even though I am well beyond early parenthood, because I worry so much about societal pressure on young moms and families. You can’t nurse or love a baby too much. Even at night. Follow your intuition! They grow up so quickly. Enjoy every moment, even sleepy moments.
My baby boy is now 43 with 2 kiddos, 3 & 12. I was also a single unwed mom (back in 1977 that was eyes with disapproval). Anyway, I was the exception as he slept through the night at 5 days. I was blessed and I don’t know why other than I had zero experience with babies (I am the youngest of 5) and God took pity on me. But what I really want to say is your experience is what every mom I knew had. And the kids? They’re alright. What you and so many moms are doing is loving your baby by being their 24/7. Love and hugs to all the mamas and their sweet babes.
Mom of 18,15,11 year old kids. I could not let my kids cry it out. An 8 month old is a tiny human that needs to be soothed. My lovely children no longer need to be nursed or soothed at night. And they are secure, self reliant, compassionate humans. Too much pressure to rush through those early years to get back to normal. Are ten years of my life a blur? Yes. But I was not willing or able to let them cry it out, and they all figured out how to sleep eventually! And the pressure was there, trust me. Contact parenting is where it’s at, and this will serve you in the long run. XOXO hang in there Mama.
My son is now 33 years old and I was given the same advice as you to “sleep train him”. It did not work and I was so exhausted as I still had to go to the office everyday. Our son did have this problem for many years and I can safely say he did grow out of it but took several years. He was diagnosed eventually with ADHD and OCD and perhaps that contributed to his sleep issues.
I just trusted my instincts and that worked for us all. Take care, this little Pepper is a precious little person and will be a wonderful young girl because you trusted your instincts.
Excellent! Wonderful for you to share your personal experience!
Omg,omg, omg, THANK YOU Andrea!!! Slow clap. I can’t tell you how happy I was reading this. You are 100% correct in saying we need to normalize the fact that sleep training isn’t for everyone. I had a very similar experience to you. My son (who is now almost 2.5yrs) has never been what they call a “good sleeper.” He never slept for long stretches in his crib and was up multiple times a night sometimes for 3 hrs at a time in his first year. I thought about sleep constantly and tortured myself wondering what I was doing wrong, because at least on the internet, it seemed everyone else’s baby was sleeping but mine. My husband is a physician and I’m a PA, and the more we researched the, the more we just felt sleep training wasn’t right for us. I totally understand why some people do it and, like you said, I’m glad if it works for them. I’m lucky in that I’m now a stay at home mom and don’t have to have a good nights sleep to function at work the next day. However, we just felt like sleep training is so pushed in America as the norm, when in most other cultures and countries all over the world it is unheard of to let your baby cry it out. There are actually no medical studies that show sleep training works. We decided to start cosleeping at 13 months, and while we still have bad nights (because our child is a human being and not a robot), I’m so glad we went with our gut. I feel so good knowing that we are providing our son with what he needs, and that he will eventually learn to sleep independently when he is ready. We all do, right? If we have a second kid I’m not going to put any more pressure on myself to try and get them to sleep through the night. As they say, “babies be babies” and every baby is completely different. You can not spoil your child by being there for them in the night. That is just called being a parent. Thanks again for this much needed post.
I would like to contribute my wisdom -I am now 74 years old and it’s been a long, long time but still remember the beginnings. My daughter is 44 years old and son is 42 years old now. It was very difficult for me as my husband worked nights. I was lucky to have my mother-in-law to help me (via telephone) through the rough times. In necessity, when my daughter was a few months old, I knew she was fed, diaper changed – I let her cry to sleep at night for a an hour and she fell asleep, And I cried in my bedroom at the same time. Next night, not much crying or fussing and the third night no crying or fussing. Before I did this approach, I consulted with my pedestrian and he agreed this was a good healthy idea. This phase will pass!!!
You say it so well here. You’re one wise, badass chick. We are finding our way. Glad we’re in it together!
I know you have lots of input but I agree 100 per cent with your failure to sleep train! Sleeping through the night will come, like teeth and talking and all the other stuff…naps are good for you both. Trust your self, Pepper, your instincts. This is a huge thing, producing a human. It’s huge. Gonna be some bumps! Roll with em. Call me up for some free advice. I love to give it. And I love you and Pepper and Taylor! Keep up the good work!
Ok, so I am way past the stage you are at but I agree with everything you say. In other societies babies and young children sleep with their parents until they are much older. It’s considered natural that they want to be close to their tribe. I think we have an unnatural glorification of independence. Our son (now our daughter) would sometimes climb into our bed until she was almost 8, and was never refused. She is now extremely confident and sure of herself, but bonded closely with her family. She knows she is loved and can count on us to support her always. So, go for it, trust your instincts.
I was so fortunate that my daughter started to sleep through the night at 3 months old. I think it was pure luck (I’m sure it was), but I did have a routine that I put in place at a month old. I would interact with her a lot during the day to limit long naps during the day. In the evening, I’d turn off all the lights and keep the house quiet starting at 7 pm. She’d fall asleep by 8 or 8:30 pm, sometimes wake up at 1 am for feeding at the beginning, and slept until 5:30 am. I was so fortunate that she started to sleep through the night right before I had to go back to work. I agree that it feels terrible to let your baby cry it out. I tried it once after pressure from family, but couldn’t handle it. All babies are different. You are doing great, hang in there!
Very well said Andrea , keep up the good work.
Really loved this and needed to hear this tonight. Thank you.
It’s only western cultures that “sleep train” or even view children not sleeping thru the night as a problem. I work with children and parents birth to three and often “consult”
@ parent’s request around sleep and other parenting concerns. There is NO one size fits all approach to anything related to parenting. What works for one child won’t for another. What one parent finds difficult another doesn’t. I have 5 adult kids and some were sleepers and other’s were not. But I think you are absolutely right to trust your gut. And yes babies are biologically driven to be with their parents and to cry when distressed. And when it works the way it should a parent responds to that distress. Sleep when you can and be gentle with yourself.
Thank you for this post! Thank you!
So glad to hear to let your instincts win! It makes a difference to all concerned. I nursed six babies. All different with different needs. Some slept through the night early, some did not. I too listened to the “experts” for my first one and weaned him too early. I regret it but I learned. There is a special bond between mother and baby and wise is the momma that listens.
I couldn’t agree more from a first time mama herself! Sending lots of love your way! Thank you for sharing 🙂
This this this! It feels wrong because it is wrong! We need to love our children and our sweet babies. Having a deep, loving connection with them now will help you to have one with them later on in life. Orphaned babies don’t cry, do you know why? Because they have learned that no one will come for them. Do we really want our children to grow up thinking they have no one to support and love them?
My first baby, once he’d got over his colic, naturally slept right through the night when he was about three and a half months old, and in the morning he wouldn’t even cry, he would just lie there smiling. My second baby wouldn’t even stop crying when soothed, and I nearly lost my mind. My third baby slept next to me, and since we were in Africa she would feed sometimes 5 or 6 times during the night because of the heat even at 6 months old. All different, now 13, 11 and 8 years old and pretty balanced human beings who all have good relationships with us their parents. My “over-soothed” daughter is extremely strong and independent (but still does ask me if I’m sure I don’t want to sleep in her bed for the night!). With hindsight, the important thing is getting through whatever’s thrown at you!
Thank you Andrea for turning what I viewed as a failure into actually a bit of an affirmation! I’ll nurse at 1am with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart.
I bought some books on the topic but I NEVER even started with any of the methods. Eventually she went to just one feeding, then to actually sleeping through the night and from there to her own bed when she was ready. I don’t regret it because every new step felt right to both of us. I still hold her hand for a bit while she falls asleep ( 2,5 years), but I guess it will be way to soon that she kicks me out of her room rolling her eyes!
Just keep following your gut! Every baby is unique!
You are absolutely correct; trust your baby and yourself. No one else knows what is right for the two of you. I am well past having a newborn, my son is 24, and I got up with him every night until he was three. It was tiring, especially with working full time but it felt right. For both of us. He has grown into a bright, capable, caring adult and I believe it is in part because he knew he was loved and heard from the beginning. You’ve got this. Thanks for using your platform to share support for other moms.
I love how you described all of your decisions about this topic, I think so many parents can agree. One of the only questions people ask about the baby is “Is she sleeping through the night?” Well, if it’s a baby, probably not! And that’s fine and totally normal. My firstborn was a bad sleeper, so we ended up co-sleeping very often, but hey, we all were well-rested in the morning! It was awesome! I was all ready to take the same approach with my new baby (also 8 months old now), but strangely enough she is content to sleep by herself. You just never know!
As a 62 year old Mother of a 30 yr old and a 27 year old I am clearly not in your demographic, but I too tried this method with my older child. By the third night I was sitting in the hallway outside my Daughters room crying and overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety and decided then and there to put an end to it. The relief was incredible. Needless to say I didn’t try it with my younger child. Neither of my children were great sleepers but by the time they were around 2 they were sleeping through the night. We all get there in the end. (My older girl now insists on 8 hours sleep a night and an afternoon nap when she can sneak it in!) I want to commend you for your choice Andrea (and also for not condemning others who choose differently). You and only you know what is best for you and your baby and don’t ever be afraid to follow your gut feeling.
As a 62 year old Mother of a 30 yr old and a 27 year old I am clearly not in your demographic, but I too tried this method with my older child. By the third night I was sitting in the hallway outside my Daughters room crying and overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety and decided then and there to put an end to it. The relief was incredible. Needless to say I didn’t try it with my younger child. Neither of my children were great sleepers but by the time they were around 2 they were sleeping through the night. We all get there in the end. (My older girl now insists on 8 hours sleep a night and an afternoon nap when she can sneak it in!) I want to commend you for your choice Andrea (and also for not condemning others who choose differently). You and only you know what is best for you and your baby and don’t ever be afraid to follow your gut feeling. Best wishes to your and your Family.
My heart is tender for you! Way to go in loving your precious Pepper in the way that is best for your family and in offering her your comfort and reassurance…even through bleary-eyes! This too shall pass and you’ll be grateful for sleep in a new way! Be strengthened!
This is so good Andrea. Whoever created the one size fits all method for parenting is a total kook. The sleeping thing will ebb and flow, evolve, get better, get worse… you know pretty much like life. You will sleep again. Also, your kid may be up at 2 in the morning chatting your ear off bedside at 6 years old, which is what mine does. Then eventually they will sleep more then we could even dream of doing when their teenagers most likely and we will be trained to wake up 4 times a night (-; I learned time and again with mothering, and frankly still am all the time, how to listen to others advice very sparingly. I would cry driving away from “mom and kid meet ups” thinking that all the things that worked for them didn’t work for us and what was wrong with him and I? It is such a journey of shedding and accepting and there is so much self preservation to be had to not let all the exterior noise get your internal instincts. I love that you are broadcasting this because its true that so many women are feeling shamed for their decisions or shrinking away because they think their failing at motherhood. All the while trying to smile and saying “yeah were doing good!”. I hope writing this to all your fans was helpful for you in being comfortable in your decision to snuggle that baby as long as need be. She’s still only 8 months, take it in!
Dear Andrea, I‘m following your blog since I saw a report on your farm in a book of the gestalten publishing company. My name is Sandra and I live in germany. This text spoke to me very loud. I am a mother of two, Sonia (4 and a half) and Levi (nearly 13 months). With Sonia I was very exhausted, too. After the first six months, maybe because of teething, she started to awake every hour, sometimes every half an hour. This is such a short period of time that I wasn‘t able to fall asleep before she was awake again. On some point I thought I almost never sleep. I never thought motherhood would be like that. But that is the thing, you‘ll never know how it will be. Even if you think you know, because you already have a child, the next is going to be different, sometimes very different. I tried to let her cry laying next to her for two evenings: the first was horrible, the second one better („just“ 20 minutes crying). And if I had tried it longer, maybe she would have slept without the best find-to-sleep-help ever, my boobies . But I just couldn’t. It felt all just so wrong. Until then she knew she would drink and then fall asleep, and now what? So I stopped and let her drink. But still I was not far away from a big black hole. I tried different things and followed different advices. Nothing really helped. But then a lactation adviser I know send me to another one, because she said, she didn’t know anything else, but maybe this woman. And yes, she did know something. She just said: Don‘t be annoyed. Don’t be angry. Whether with yourself nor your child.
This sounds a little too easy or maybe too hard, doesn’t it? But, what can I say, it helped. When I was worried about myself and the situation it was surely not the best setting to fall asleep. So I tried to take it as it was. And maybe it was my being calmer that that made Sonia a bit calmer. She still woke up often and nowadays in some nights she still awakes to make sure I am there. But I‘m still alive and she is sleeping now .
So, Congratulations for quitting!!! In my experience it is the best you can do for both you and your child. Because the giving in of the child is just resignation.
I often hear that I shouldn’t let my children sleep in my bed, because they will never go by themselves. But I am sure, they go. Nobody (or nearly nobody) stays in bed with mommy all the time. And until then it is so much easier, because I don’t have to walk trough a room or to an other one and be even more awake. So if mom and dad are allowed to sleep in one bed, and they are grown up, why shouldn’t children. My son and my daughter both are sleeping better when it’s possible for them to connect with their feet or hands or whatever body part with me during sleep. The unconscious says: „Ok, not alone, keep sleeping.“ Good for them, good for me. And the second child drinks often in the night, but falls asleep easily after. And I can sleep and do not count the times he is awake and be annoyed, because I have seen it how fast they grow and how soon it is over and your little baby is a nearly 5 year old child.
So, again, congratulations on your decision and to the fact you have a child and such a very beautiful one too.
Greeting from far far away. Have a merry Christmas and a happy happy happy new year.
Thank you for writing about sleep training not working.
We had the horrible experience of sleep training, with breaks, for two years. We had three sleep consultants and a behavioural therapist. My son would not fall asleep being rocked or nursed. My only choice was to let him scream, and he screamed off and on for over 2 years. My sleep sense coach told me I was the first failure sleep sense had ever had, which I completely think is a lie. It was hands down the worst 2 years of my life and the reason I will never have another child. Finally at 2.5 he started falling asleep without screaming.
Sleep training is not 100 percent successful. And people who say it is are lying.
Excellent way of telling, and nice paragraph to get facts about my presentation focus, which i am going to present in school. Modesta Patrick Burrell
I’ve been sleep training at 6 mo and I succeeded with 2nd method tried. First of course – famous Ferber’s but I was not feeling good about the crying. Then I’ve found NO CIO method, that was from this book: https://sleepingshouldbeeasy.com/newborn-fighting-sleep/ and this is the one that worked perfectly. It was 5 nights I believe until I said “ok, it’s done now”. But I totally see you point – it is YOUR decision and no pressure should be addressed. In fact, that’s also why I liked the author – Susan Urban – she writes a lot about feeling ok with the steps and following the guts. I can recommend the method and I do but only to women wanting to try and it’s the only way it is fair, right?
Sleep training is a good thing! Of course especially if you choose wisely. I can recommend this book: https://www.parental-love.com/shop/baby-sleep-training – it’s guide in a nutshell, part of a series and it is just amazing. Short book, clear step-by-step info and you go. And it works. It worked twice for me!
Thank you so much for writing this blog post, as I just failed in my first 5 mi Tues bawling listening to my baby bawl. My snuggles are what works for us and it is good to hear that I’m not a failure for wanting to keep that bond and pattern we have already. It may take longer for my baby to go down but I cant bear the alternative, the anxiety was too much. Your words and camaraderie are so appreciated.
So happy this post was comforting. Sending love and extra cuddles to you and your babe. xo
We started sleep training couple days back and working with a sleep consultant who said the max a baby has cried is 7 minutes. So we started and seeing my baby cry for hours has completely broken me. We are on day 2 and I broke all the rules and picked up my baby. He’s now sleeping in my arms and I can breathe.. thank you for writing this article because I was feeling like a failure.
I needed to read this so bad today!!! I just decided to pull out of sleep training, the most horrible experience for myself hubby and our daughter. We know a lot of parents who swear by it and so I am feeling like a complete failure in a lot of ways. At the same time it went against all of my mama instincts. Thank you for sharing your experience, it definitely is helping this mama!
Thank you for sharing. It seems like all that is out there is sleep training works and you absolutely have to do it. It’s really brave of you to share your experience so other moms know it’s not the only option.
If anyone needs additional support the beyond sleep training project on Facebook is super helpful, I found it after listening to a podcast with Dr. Sophie Brock (the good enough mother) and Carly Grubb who founded the behind sleep training project. Also there are some great podcasts by Greer Kirshenbaum who is a neuroscientist who explains why sleep training isn’t teaching your child to self soothe and why responsiveness is the best thing you can do for your baby’s brain development.
Hi Andrea, I know it’s been a little while since you posted this but appreciate it and so need community around this! I feel exactly the same way, but I’m struggling to let the pressure/worry/anxiety go and just bed
My babe Lilah is almost 6 months old and wakes often to nurse still. We bedshare so nursing her is a quick transition and she rarely wakes all the way, nurses, and passes right back out. It feels right, and also the doubts eat me up inside sometimes, especially lately. I’m have trouble with sleep anyway, and when I wake up I wake all the way and it takes a while to fall back asleep. And getting to sleep at night is challenging and I usually fall asleep quite late whether I’m exhausted or not.
I’ve struggled with postpartum anxiety and am definitely really tired, and of course want to do right by Lilah, so I question myself all the time and wonder if I’m fucking this up and should just sleep train for everyone, but it feels so wrong! And I also don’t want to go through the misery of it and don’t think I could handle it which makes me feel weak and selfish like I’m not choosing Lilah’s well-being. And also like prioritizing my own wellbeing like I “should”. Fucking Internet and “experts” drive me crazy. It’s great to have access to so much information, and also can be such a huge burden.
Well, I think you’re doing awesome with your beautiful baby and your farm!!! All I want is to live on a farm with other kind folks! Maybe one day!
All the best to you all and thank you for sharing,
You are doing wonderful mama!! You are in such great company on this journey of sleep, anxiety and general overwhelm. I’m thinking of you and so glad this post resonated. Sending love. xo
Thank you for writing this. Our daughter is thriving in every way except at night. We had a family member from out of the country living with us. He is a child-free man so even though he said it was “fine” I ruined the progress we made with her sleeping in her own crib 20 months into her life. His room was across from hers and I was hyper aware of her crying and felt terrible about it because the family member moved to help us with construction on our home. I felt responsible to end the crying. Even so, the crying would be so intense I can’t handle the 60-90 minutes of it. She never was a good sleeper. She would sleep while I was baby-wearing her or directly on me when she was an infant. How am I supposed to sleep train when I’m trying to survive the rest of my life and take the few breaks she has provided us? Only a few of her naps ever cleared the 2 hour mark. She sleeps 7-8 hours at night waking 1-4 times. All the articles I read mention “you must be wondering why your child isn’t sleeping well anymore.” We never had that experience of her sleeping well. When she has slept well it’s a brief stretch or a rare night that feels like a personal holiday. In the morning she’s happy and ready for the day though. Our home is a stable and happy one. We turn the lights low at night, we play gentle music, the white noise machine is activated. We have tried loading her with carbs and milk for a full happy tummy. When I weaned her she began sleeping through the night but that lasted less than a few weeks. We tried my husband putting her to bed and that worked for awhile but then he family member moved in and I felt pressure from myself to manage the sleep disruptions for others as to not hinder productivity on construction. People tell me that her expecting comfort from me has created this issue. Then the hottest summer on record hit and we began co-sleeping out of necessity. The portable AC units were so loud it was difficult to feel comfortable monitoring her. When she’s too warm she cries so hard that she vomits. After finding her in vomit once or twice while checking on ber, I could not in good conscience leave her alone. We had a mattress on the floor and I tried laying with her then sneaking out of bed to be with my husband. She notices and wakes up. A few times she didn’t but that was rare. The relative is now gone back to Argentina, we have moved to a home with central air, and we are attempting to establish a new routine. I feel like between moving and attempting to break co-sleeping (transferring her to a small bed alongside us instead of IN our bed) I’m reaching the point of giving up. I cried this morning to my husband about how we have another baby due in early December. Why won’t our daughter sleep through the night? She woke up every hour last night crying out for me. I tried comforting her standing above her bed touching her. I tried singing. I tried laying with her. I don’t think it’s fair for articles to blame me and label our efforts as creating bad habits. She is outside daily, her screen time is limited, and she has healthy interactions to expel energy. I don’t know what else I can do but pray that someday she will grow out of this need to be in my bed close to me at night. Until then, I’ll read to her in her bed, lay her in it once she’s asleep, and keep trying. Some of us are trying our best to and sacrificing so much in between to hold onto our sanity. Some of us are trying to accept this is beyond our control. Thanks for making me feel like I’m not alone.
This is a wonderful post. I was considering some form of sleep training and it was making me sick with anxiety. I’m not going to do it! I am going to cuddle and comfort my sweet babe just like my instincts tell me I should. Thank you for this validating post!
Thank you for this article! As a fellow dropout who still
At 12 months wakes every night multiple times, thank you for reminding me why I never could continue with sleep training and hear my baby cry so damn much waiting for me to comfort her. I’m exhausted! But I feel like I chose the right path for me and my daughter ❤️
Thank you so much for opening up about the sleep-training topic – and the fact that it is NOT for everyone! I could not agree with you more. Our society does indeed put an enormous amount of pressure on moms to sleept-train, get baby on a schedule, and keep our children from becoming too needy. But those are ridiculous expectations for a young child who needs comfort, security and reliability from his parents.
I recently wrote a post detailing my sleep journey with my now 3 1/2 year old daughter (https://mamarissa.com/what-will-happen-if-you-dont-sleep-train-your-baby/). I did not sleep-train her and she very gradually eventually transitioned to sleeping on her own. Sure, it took time and patience. But if you an accept doing things the way that your child needs you to instead of how others are pressuring you to, it is so worth it.
As you mentioned, sleep-training certainly is not wrong in and of itself. For some families, it IS the right and best way to handle their child’s sleep. But not if it goes against your motherly instincts and what you know in your heart is best for your child.
I have a 4 month old girl, my first child, and I am sitting here writing this comment after a long sleepless night and what seems like what is going to be a long sleepless day filled with 30-40 minute naps. Everything I read makes me feel as if I’m depriving my child of sleep. That she is not sleeping through the night because I nurse her to sleep and I can’t stand to let her cry it out for more then 20 minutes. Nursing her to sleep, to me, feels as if it’s the only way for the both of us to get any sleep. I’ve tried to let her cry it out a few times and she goes ballistic. Hyperventilating for an hour or so after I can’t take it anymore and decide to pick her up. I am so tired, but I honestly do not feel that letting her cry it out is what will work for her or me. I am exhausted and I just don’t know what to do. I mean does it eventually get a little easier? If I only woke 3-4 times throughout the night I would be one well rested and happy mama at this point.
Just stumbled on this and want to say thank you for articulating the truth about so-called gentle methods. It’s so wonderful that your baby continued to tell you what she needed and that you listened to her and your gut.
Thank you so much for posting with such vulnerability and honesty about the torment that this stupid unnatural program has caused! It has always been around but with the internet and marketing of word of mouth it is causing so much heart ache for young parents. I have witnessed the heartache and frustration that it has caused my sweet daughter in love and son with their first baby. She is the most precious, happy, sweet baby! Who has been teething since before 3.5 months when she got her first of many many teeth. At a year already has molars… I was never a person who agreed with allowing my children to cry or putting cereal in their formula (which was popular in my young mothering days) to get your baby to sleep through the night. If your little one is awake it’s because they need something, YOU, the parents. I understand that it is difficult to function on lack of sleep, but believe me when I tell you that there will come a time (quicker then you can imagine) when your children will be grown and gone and you will not miss the time you didn’t sleep, you will miss the most precious time a mother is blessed to have and that is rocking and feeding/nursing her baby! Try to take these rough nights and sleepy days and remember what a blessing it is! To all those who are in the position to encourage a young mother or father, just listen for heaven sake! Encourage them by saying something positive, don’t spout out your own stories of what age your 3 month old slept through the night or perspective on neglecting the needs of children during the night, to add to their difficulty and cause them added grief and judgement! I am so thankful that I didn’t have the internet to browse during those nights when I was awake, I could focus on just loving my babies, sleeping together while rocking when necessary or pulling them into our bed for comfort, and wasn’t consumed with the bullshit that someone was selling! Enjoy every second of your children, the good the bad and the sometimes ugly, there will come a day very quickly when you will miss their presence in your life on a daily basis!!! The quiet moments when you can look into their sweet faces, see them smile as you are feeding them! Those are the moments that you will treasure! Love and trust yourselves, learn to just say to others when begin their judgements about your parenting choices, that is not something that we are choosing to do. If they do not respect you and continue to cause stress, well maybe taking a break from their presence is necessary for a time! You’ve got this!!!
Thank you so much for sharing your story!! I am up at night with an 8 months old a lot, but I would never ever let him cry out, it goes against nature and we can trust that if it feels wrong it is wrong. It is such a shame that in our society we need ‘experts’ that comes between mum and baby to tell them what is right. The mum is the best expert there is in the world! And calling it sleep training always sounded to me just a way to justify abandoning your baby on despair based on some doubtful scientific evidence.. that I hope in a few years time will be considered obsolete.. my mum was potty trained at one, nowadays this is considered ridiculous, I hope it will be the same with sleep training in the future.
Thank you! I could have written something similar myself. After three nights of a so called “very gentle” method, I threw in the towel. I felt pressured into sleep training, and it went against my belief system and parenting style. It taught me to give my little one a minute to settle before rushing in, but everything else was torture for us both, and I regret trying. Went back to picking up, feeding, and/or comforting if little one cries out, and nights are less tear filled for us both. My little peanut just slept 7-6 am in the crib, with only one 30 minute wake-up to feed. Success by following my instincts without sleep training!
I’m so with you on this, sister! Most of my friends sleep trained and my psychologist strongly recommended against it. That’s because she knew me, my childhood, my husbands childhood, etc. She also knew I had the luxury of being home the first year. I’m so glad I didn’t even try it for one night. My daughter just turned one and has been sleeping through the night consistently for several weeks now. It was hard. So hard. I’ve aged more than I’d like but for us it was absolutely worth all the exhaustion.
I’m so with you on this, sister! Most of my friends sleep trained and my psychologist strongly recommended against it, for us. That’s because she knew me, my childhood, my husband’s childhood, etc. She also knew I had the luxury of being home the first year. I’m so glad I didn’t even try it for one night. My daughter just turned one and has been sleeping through the night consistently for several weeks now. It was hard. So hard. I’ve aged more than I’d like but for us it was absolutely worth all the exhaustion.
Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you’ve followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn’t been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they’ll probably stop whining soon. Never punish them for whining.
I needed this. Thank you!
This hit home for me so much. I definitely feel the pressure to sleep train, because everyone does it. But my little one is my first and probably my last and I want to some in every minute of her. Even on the harder nights. Thank you for sharing this !
Wow I just found this post while googling “will my baby ever sleep if I don’t sleep train.” It’s as if you wrote down all my exact thoughts. Thank you so much. I have a 10 month old who doesn’t sleep well and I still nurse him in the night and I’ve truly been feeling so broken for not being able to bring myself to sleep train. I’m so happy for my friends who have found success in it! But it isn’t for me and then being so tired I’m embarrassed to say I’m tired for fear the response will be “well- you haven’t sleep trained.” This made me feel like I’m not the only one! And maybe there is hope!
The last line made me tear up. You are so right!
Ironically I write this as I’m holding my baby for his nap.
I know this is an older post but thank you for writing this!
Similar story here! We tried and dropped out after 6 days. Worst week of my life. My baby girl stopped making eye contact with her own mother. I was devastated.