No, I Didn’t Sleep Train, My Daughter

millennials parenting

You read that right; I didn’t sleep train. It should be called sleep draining, honestly. Why? Well, for one, who the hell has that kind of time or patience? Also, sleep training is hard on everyone involved! First, you need to find out what type of sleep training you want to try. Then, you have to not go completely crazy and stick with the plan. Forget it.

Some training involves “cry it out” while others avoid it (although, I think a frustrated baby is inevitable). Babies don’t understand what’s happening or why you’re changing everything on them. Finally, it takes lots of time to accomplish the training. Even when you do, it won’t last long. As your child enters and exits growth spurts (mental leaps), they’ll change their sleep patterns no matter how much you’ve trained them. So, please, don’t lie to yourself. Sleep training is a pain in the ass, and I wasn’t in the mood to play “let’s just try it.”

Facebook “Advice” On Ways To Sleep Train Your Baby

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen Facebook posts from moms, crying their eyes out, trying to make it through one version of sleep training or another, begging for advice. Sometimes, I feel bad, but usually, I can’t help but want to write,

“STOP! You’re the only one making yourself miserable.”

Never once have I seen any good advice given, only the generic “I feel you mama” and “just keep with it, you’re doing great!” No one wants to admit that there is no advice because it’s all detailed to your specific baby. Yes, there are sleep experts, and I’m sure they have some great thoughts and techniques, but I sure didn’t want to spend a ton of money because I wanted to try and make my baby sleep on my schedule rather than me adjusting to fit hers.

Reasons Your Baby Isn’t Sleeping

Is your baby waking up every 2 hours? Are you breast-feeding? Is the child a newborn or younger than three months old? If your answer was yes to any of these questions, then that’s your answer to why your child has a crazy sleep schedule. Newborns and growing infants wake up a lot! Deal with it. It’s part of growing and adapting to life outside the womb. Also, breast-fed babies wake more often than formula-fed ones. It’s a simple fact. Did you know that breastmilk is digested faster, leaving the baby’s stomach empty sooner after eating? On average, formula-fed babies sleep 4 hours straight, even for newborns.

Before you can determine how to help your child regulate their sleep, you have to look at the factors aiding or preventing sleep. Moms try so hard to put their babies on a sleep schedule as quickly as possible after birth. We have it drilled into our brains that they should be “sleeping through the night” by a certain age. Do a quick Google search, and you’ll see that Google thinks babies should be able to sleep through the night between 4-6 months.

This is a lie. People never fully explain what sleeping through the night means. It doesn’t mean 8-12 straight hours of sleep! I thought it did. Why wouldn’t it? That’s what I do when I sleep through the night, right? Ugh. It took me a while to figure it out. If you’re reading this, you know to lower your expectations earlier than I did.

Our Life After Understanding How Babies “Sleep”

Life got more manageable, and my sleep schedule got more comfortable once I figured out how much my daughter was supposed to be sleeping. Why? Because I stopped trying to force her to sleep. I would just let it happen. In a way, I let go of any control over my daughter. It was so difficult and frustrating. I didn’t even know I was being that controlling until I had to stop. Talk about a wake-up call! I knew, finally, that her sleep would regulate itself when it was ready. Nothing I did was going to make her grow any slower, eat any less, or learn any faster. In the words of Elsa, let it go!

Thinking back to being a new mom, very few people gave me solid, usable advice. Oh sure, countless women had something to say, but everything they said was basic. Like, they were telling me to sleep when the baby slept. No one talked about the expectations of the internet, mom groups, and the business of society that had been set up. Just like when I wanted to be told that I didn’t have to breastfeed, that it was okay, I wanted someone to be realistic about sleeping babies. Instead, I got hundreds of responses, suggesting I hire a sleep trainer. My daughter is not a dog; she doesn’t need a trainer, first of all! And really, maybe that’s a more viable option for single mothers, but I had my boyfriend (her father). It got annoying seeing the same empty words over and over again.

Ideas Instead Of Trying To Sleep Train

What can you do to make this transition easier? Stop trying to make a newborn understand time, daylight, and “normal” sleep patterns. They are newborns! Nothing is normal to them. Normal was the womb. My daughter didn’t understand, she didn’t need to understand, and to be completely truthful, she didn’t give a damn about what the world wanted her to do. The only thing left for me to do was to listen to her. Listen to what she needed and respond to those needs. Sometimes we think we’re listening, but we’re really just assuming. They’re Talking: Are You Listening provides more insight to the concept of listening vs. hearing.

I said yes to my daughter. Yes, to stay awake when she wanted to be awake, and yes to letting her sleep at ridiculous times during the day, because she was tired. If I saw her yawn, I put her in her swing and let her sleep. Whether I was tired or not, when she was tired, she went to bed. It’s as simple as that, mama! Listen to your baby. Okay, yes, it was incredibly challenging to have such an inconsistent schedule, but I did it anyway. Go with the flow, and it will all level out.

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