While many parents have become dependent upon sleep training methods such as; Cry-it-Out, Extinction, and Bedtime Fading methods, many have also sworn that they will never adopt these methods for personal reasons and fear of the negative affect it may have on their babies. Notice I said “Babies”!
For starters, you don’t “train” a baby, you “train” a dog…therefore, let’s try to lean more towards terms like; teach, encourage, persuade, enforce, compel, etc… Second, teaching a baby to sleep alone is almost impossible. Why? Well, because you’re not necessarily teaching your baby to sleep independently, you’re forcing them to be alone at the times they need you most.
As your baby grows older into a toddler and child, they will display signs of wanting to assert independence through breast weaning, tantrums, spending more time playing alone, and playing so much that they wear themselves out and may even fall asleep alone, “willingly”. It’s just a part of growing and getting older.
On the other hand, babies are only babies for a short period of time and during that short period, they NEED close attention, affection, responsiveness and physical care. How do they tell us this? By crying of course, it’s their only form of communication.
So what makes ignoring our crying baby acceptable? Well for starters, the mindset that it doesn’t last forever, they’ll get used to it, they’ll sleep longer and the parents get better sleep, is what supposedly makes us feel better and less guilty. Although, this isn’t exactly something that we want our babies to get used to.
Mothers have natural, maternal instincts. Dad’s even get uncomfortable and uneasy from the sound of their baby’s cry out for attention. Our maternal or paternal instincts are like a gravitational need to respond to our child’s needs. This is to ensure our childs safety, security and overall welfare.
We’re not meant to ignore our baby in hope that they’ll learn to “self-soothe” themselves when in need. Thats our job… to soothe them, comfort them, protect and provide them with whatever they may need. Which could be food, a clean diaper, a temperature adjustment, affection or quite possibly anything for the matter.
We also have to consider that while choosing to encourage and normalize self-soothing, independence throughout the entire night, we could instead be teaching them that they will cry, but we won’t come. Also, increasing the likelihood of them not crying to make us aware of a need that may be life threatening.