In my experience there are few universal truths to motherhood. For example, no matter what choices you make your kids will probably turn out just fine. Of course, the downside is that people will likely judge you for those very same choices. When it comes to how you get your baby to sleep, it seems like everyone has an opinion, especially if you decide to sleep train your baby. In fact, some of the things people say when you're sleep training are pretty awful.
Trust me, I would know. Before my youngest baby was born, I was adamantly against sleep training. I thought it was cruel and heartless, and that I could never and would never do it. Unlike some people, though, I had the common decency to keep those thoughts to myself. Then reality and sleep deprivation and desperation reared their ugly heads, and my partner and I decided to sleep train our youngest. And when my husband magically sleep-trained our child in about three days, I change my mind about sleep training. Hell, I wish we had tried it sooner.
Like any proud parent, I started telling other parents about our sleep training success. What a mistake that was, though. I was on the receiving end of some truly horrible, judgmental, and untrue responses and comments. For example, I was told I would permanently damage my child by letting him cry for minutes in his crib, or that I clearly loved sleep more than my child.
I’m not a monster for sleep training my baby, though, and despite what anyone else says. My baby simply needed some help learning how to fall asleep, and sleep training worked for our family. And over the years I’ve learned not to let the haters get to me, especially when they say awful things. My child finally sleeping through the night was totally worth it.
"Your Baby Will Be Psychologically Damaged"
Nearly every time I discuss sleep training with friends who disagree with the practice, someone will bring up the supposed adverse effects of sleep training on your baby. However, as Psychology Today reports, there's not actually research that backs up those claims. In fact, a 2016 study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that sleep training works to help babies sleep and doesn't have long-term negative effects on children or their relationship with their parents.
"Have You Tried Co-Sleeping?"
The short answer is yes, I did try co-sleeping. I co-slept with my two older children and everyone was miserable. It took me months to get them to fall asleep without touching me, and I still sometimes have to snuggle them to sleep. I didn't want to repeat that ineffective process with my youngest.
"Don’t You Love Your Baby?"
How does one respond to such a ridiculous question? Of course I love my baby. I love him so much that I want us both to get the sleep we need sleep to function and be healthy.
"I Could Never Listen To My Baby Cry"
Yeah, I get it. I can't either. It's horrible for my anxiety. It feels like a part of me dies every time he's sad. Which is one reason why I let my husband handle sleep training. It's temporary, and after you get past the hurdle, it's amazing.
People called me selfish for sleep training, and honestly, if wanting to get enough sleep to stay upright is selfish, then I'm selfish as hell. The thing is, moms get to be selfish. It doesn't mean they are bad moms, it just means that sometimes it's necessary for them to address their own needs first so they can be the best parents possible.
"They Are Only Little Once"
After having three babies, I am acutely aware of the fact that kids grow up way too fast. That doesn't mean that I have to spend their early years sleep-deprived and exhausted when it's totally not necessary. I shouldn't be made to feel guilty about wanting everyone to get some sleep, including me and my babies.
The people who say this have clearly never tried sleep training, because, honestly, it's one of the hardest things I have ever done.
"I Tried Sleep Training And It Was Horrible"
Yeah, I thought so, too. Hearing my baby cry was awful for my anxiety. I hated it. It actually wasn't until I had my husband take over sleep training duties that it worked. But as a result of our collective hard work, both of us can just set him down in his crib and he falls asleep. He just needed to learn how. I'm not saying that it's right for everyone, but it was right for us.
Some of my friends will talk at great length about how cruel it is to let a baby cry for even a moment without picking them up. But that is part of parenthood. We have to do a ton of other things babies don't necessarily like, including but certainly not limited to: diaper changes, baths, and vaccinations. We do these things, as a parents, because they are necessary. And for my baby and my family, sleep training was necessary, too.