Like many aspects of being new parents, sleep-training is tiring, stressful, and can often require trial and error. For example, I found out my child does not like replacing his white noise sounds with '90s power ballads (a realization that, yes, was devastating). It’s also an area where, at least in my experience, seasoned parents are keen to offer up their best advice and suggestions; adding to the exhaustion and the stress. Thankfully, there are simply things you don’t have to do when sleep training, even though everyone says (or implies with intense stares and judgmental eyes) that you do.
To be fair, it’s surprising that parents can even recall whether or not they sleep trained at all, given the foggy haze that swallows many of us as we go through the process. Pure exhaustion and sleep depravation are no joke, and there are plenty of moments when parents can't recall how they got from the kitchen to the bedroom. I mean, we're walking zombies at this point. Not only are you too tired to remember much of anything, but you're too tired to write down the laundry list of suggestions, ranging from how to sleep train quickly and efficiently to how to sleep train so you don't wind up a blubbering mess of a human being in the fetal position of your bathroom floor.
Still, even when offered with the best of intentions, it’s OK to not take sleep-training advice from the woman on the next block who’s baby slept twelve hours a night starting when they were two days old. Every baby, and every parent is different, and you’re allowed to have your own journey that doesn't include unsolicited advice. So, with that in mind, here’s a list of things you definitely don’t have to check off that other list that so many people are trying to give you:
Divide Duties Evenly With Your Partner
Depending on how you define “evenly,"of course. For example, my husband was way better at getting our kid back to sleep in the middle of the night than I was, so we decided that he’d be on call for those glorious occasions, while I could sleep through them (until he decided to tag me in, of course). However, it was also up to me to get up early with our little one once his day started, so my husband to sleep in. Everyone wins, sort of.
Follow Every Super-Specific Rule
We dipped in and out of various sleep-training books and methods before finding one that worked reasonably well for us. However, even after we found what works for us, we didn’t match every piece of advice attached to that one specific method, and ended up with a mix of different techniques that ultimately got the job done.
Defend The Method You’re Using
Unless, of course, your method involves power ballads. Please explain that one to me a little more, and in great detail. After another cup of coffee I will be awake enough to start taking notes.
Follow A Specific Timeline
Our baby slept in our room longer than the babies of most of my friends, and longer than some of the advice I read. But you know what? It worked for us, so everyone wins.
You Don’t Have To Read The Books People Recommend
Read them, don't read them; accept them politely or throw them back in the face of the gift-giver. It's all up to you.
You Don’t Have To Hate It As Much As People Said You Will
Maybe your baby is really good at sleeping. Maybe you've got an awesome arrangement with your partner. Maybe you're just really good at functioning on little sleep. Regardless, you're allowed to feel however you want to feel about the whole process.
You Also Don’t Need To Savor This Time, Or Whatever Else Wistful Parents Of Older Kids Advise
"Enjoy it," was something I heard so frequently when pregnant that not enjoying it always felt like a bigger deal than it needed to be. But when it came to sleep training? Yeah, it's definitely fine to dislike the entire process.
You Also Don’t Need To Fall Asleep On The Floor Next To The Crib
Um, actually, this is mostly a note to past-me. Trust me, there's a better way.