I am writing this for all those mothers who have posted a sleep related question in a mummy group, or for those who scroll through the comments looking for answers.
Hear me out…
There is a big anti sleep training movement going on out there and sleep consultants get a bad rap. I see a lot of mums reaching out for help in online forums asking about their baby’s sleep. Many comments will come from well-meaning mums who have had a similar experience, sharing what did or didn’t work for them. You’ll also hear from the warriors telling you to steer clear of sleep consultants because they are evil and will tell you to leave your baby to cry it out. And without out a doubt you will be referred to popular anti sleep training support groups (you know the ones I’m talking about). Now, I’m not going to tell you not to follow or join these groups. However, I will tell you to be wary. By all means find solidarity hearing from parents who share your struggles. I mean, I am a member of plenty of mummy groups and find comfort knowing my kids aren’t the only weirdos who prefer to eat their toothpaste rather than actually using it to brush their teeth. But if you are desperately sleep deprived or suffering from PND you are most likely not going to find the support you may have been hoping for or need. The problem with these groups is that they can come across as quite extreme in their views and there isn’t much practical advice given. You will be inundated with mums saying their baby does the same thing and that it’s normal and be told there is nothing you can do about it. That the only answer is to keep co-sleeping, keep getting up a million times a night to feed your baby back to sleep, or whatever it is that you are currently doing because that is what your child needs. It’s easy to be left feeling vilified or shamed for wanting to help ‘fix’ your child’s sleep.
I am here to tell you that no, you are not being selfish for wanting better sleep for yourself and your child. And yes, it may be normal for your child to be struggling to fall asleep or waking often through the night, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to help improve your situation. And no, you do not need to leave your baby to CIO. You don’t even need to sleep train if you don’t want to.
Any good sleep consultant will work with you to find out WHY your baby is having trouble sleeping. They will assess your situation and explore your baby’s current day and night routine, sleep environment, nutrition and any underlying health concerns. Settling methods, or sleep training will be the last piece of the puzzle and there are plenty of gentle methods to choose from.
So, if you have or are thinking about reaching for help in an online forum, please, take the advice you receive with a grain of salt. Take the good but ignore the mummy shamers. And remember, us sleep consultants aren’t really that bad. We want to help families, we’re not on some secret mission to destroy the well-being of the next generation, I promise.