Ever since parenting books found their way into bedrooms, authors have touted magical formulas promising to get babies to sleep through the night and follow a more convenient schedule. While babies have a lot of wonderful attributes, convenience is not one of them. Beware of using someone else’s training method to get your baby to sleep or get your baby on a predictable schedule. Most of these methods are variations of the tired old theme of letting baby cry it out. Before trying anyone else’s method, run it through your intuitive wisdom. Does this advice sound sensible? Does it fit your baby’s temperament? Does it feel right to you?
With most of these baby-training regimens you run the risk of becoming desensitized to the cues of your infant, especially when it comes to letting baby cry it out. Instead of helping you to figure out what baby’s signals mean, these training methods tell you to ignore them. Neither you nor your baby learn anything good from this.
If your current daytime or nighttime routine is not working for you, think about what changes you can make in yourself and your lifestyle that will make it easier for you to meet your baby’s needs. This is a better approach than immediately trying to change your baby. After all, you can control your own reactions to a situation. You can’t control how your baby reacts. Use discernment about advice that promises a sleep-through-the-night more convenient baby, as these programs involve the risk of creating a distance between you and your baby and undermining the mutual trust between parent and child. On the surface, baby training sounds so liberating, but it’s a short-term gain for a long-term loss. You lose the opportunity to know and become an expert in your baby. Baby loses the opportunity to build trust in his caregiving environment. You cease to value your own biological cues and judgment and follow the advice of someone who has no biological attachment, nor investment, in your infant.
Clicking into the cry-it-out method also keeps you from continuing to search for medical or physical causes of nightwaking, such as GER and food allergies. Nightfeedings is normal; frequent nightwaking is not.
Stay flexible. No single approach will work with all babies all the time, or even all the time with the same baby. Don’t persist with a failing experiment. If the “sleep program” isn’t working for your family, drop it.
Follow your heart rather than some stranger’s sleep-training advice, and you and your baby will eventually work out the right nighttime parenting style for your family.