If you’ve been following me a while you probably know that I am not your average baby “sleep trainer”. I actually try to achieve as much sleep as possible without initiating any formal sleep training.
Ultimately, I work with families and we shift behavior, yes. I have been known to nudge a baby or two to a better night’s sleep. But I want the process to feel more natural, more normal, and in-line with a baby’s unique temperament, a family’s unique needs, and their desire for a strong attachment with their infants.
Every time I do a consultation I ask families a variety of questions. One I ask the most often is..
Why does this have to change? Why is your current scenario one that is not sustainable? Why do we have to make some changes here today?
I let parents blurt out whatever is in their heart at that given moment.. and I hear a lot of different things.
“We are not sleeping. We are not functioning. We are not able to be the parents we hoped we would be because of this lack of sleep.”
“If something doesn’t change soon we are going to lose our patience and we are just going to let her cry-it-out, which is something we don’t want to do.”
Most often, it is the parents wanting to make a change so that they can parent the way they had imagined. So that they can move on from sleep being the ONLY focus of every day, so that they can begin to lift above the cloud of sleep deprivation and enjoy their baby more.
But sometimes, they are worried about their baby too.
“I’m worried she is not getting enough sleep for her physical and emotional development.”
“I know he is supposed to be getting more sleep than this, and I feel like we are doing him a disservice because we can’t get him to sleep more than he does.”
“We are worried that his body is not getting the rest it needs in order to thrive.”
“We are worried that she will be behind her peers if she doesn’t begin to sleep well.”
Now.. I am not here to say that sleep is not important.
Sleep we know is very important.
Without sleep, our bodies do not restore and recover. Our cells regenerate in our sleep, and we rid our bodies of toxins to make space for new connections in our brains.
But here is the thing… almost every single baby I have worked with is thriving. THRIVING. They may wake up 5 – 7 times per night. They may take 2 x 20 minute naps in a day. But you know what, these babies are THRIVING.
They are weighing in at amazing weights. They are healthy. They are whole. They are reaching all of their developmental milestones right on cue! They are reaching new heights, babbling new words, and creating connections each and every day before their parents’ eyes. And they are securely attached to their caregivers, and loved beyond measure.
Yet somehow these parents have been made to believe that their children are inadequate? That their child is not thriving because they are up more than 1 or 2 times a night to tend to their needs? And that they are failing because they are not getting them the calculated number of hours of sleep as recommended by some book, or some blog somewhere that may or may not know the first thing about their infant.
So. Can we stop?!
Can we just stop this mom guilt, motha f*ckin shame?! PLEASE!
I’m on a rant. It is true.
But I want the world of “baby sleep professionals”, wherever you may be, to stop selling your packages by guilting parents into believing they are screwing up their children.
Yes. I am probably going to get some backlash on this one.. but I really can’t take it a minute longer.
I tell every parent I meet this – Yes I want your baby to sleep more.. but that is because I want YOU to get more sleep. YOU are the one who is not thriving here. YOU are the one who is tired beyond what you can take. YOU are the one who feels like you are barely making it through the day.
But LOOK at your baby!!!!!!!
Are we looking at the same baby?! Because the baby I see here right before my eyes is a happy, healthy, beautiful, interesting, dynamic, chubby, cute, and securely attached little infant. Your baby is perfectly fine – and somehow she is getting the sleep she needs.
Yes, she may be on your boob all night. But – that girl right there.. she is looking pretty damn rested. Ha! It is YOU who has the bags under your eyes. (Okay.. so.. I don’t say the last part, but.. you know what I mean!)
I come at this honestly, friends.
As some of you may know if you’ve been following my stories on instagram, my son has a slight developmental delay in gross motor development. It is very small – and I won’t begin to pretend for a second that I know about the struggles other moms face as they work through their children’s physical and emotional delays.
I look at my son, and I also see a beautiful, thriving, 14 month old, baby boy. He may just be learning to crawl. His legs give out beneath him every time he tries to stand, and his core strength needs a little work. We are hoping he will have a 6 pack by next Christmas if we keep up with his regular physio schedule. 😉
But here is the thing. My baby. He sleeps.
He lives with me. He never had a choice! Ha.
The kid sleeps 11 straight hours at night, and takes 2 x 1.5 hour naps each day. That is MORE than the average 14 month old.
Could I get him more sleep if I tried?
No. I really do not think I could possibly get him any more sleep than he gets currently.
If I did get him more sleep, would he have been more likely to meet his previous gross motor developmental skills on time?!
No. I really don’t think that has had anything to do with it. The kid has slept very well most of his life.
He is who he is, and I love him dearly for that.
But he is going to do things when his body is ready and prepared to do so. I will be right there cheering and nudging him along as best I can, but ultimately, it is his body’s choice when he will walk.
And to me. Sleep has very little to do with the equation.
So celebrate your babies for all they are my friends. The sleepy ones, and the sleepless wonders. They are perfectly designed for you. And they are thriving.