10 Popular Sleep Training Myths Busted
Dear sleepy mum,
Have you been considering sleep training, but been told not to by this and this mum?
I don’t know anybody else (in person) that has done sleep training besides me. Every single mum I mention it to, is curious about it at first. But then I’m bound to hear one (or more) of the most popular sleep training myths.
I’ve had such a brilliant experience with sleep training myself, that I really wanted to clear the air and bust these myths.
Before I go any further, I’d like to briefly mention what sleep training actually is. Sleep training is the process of teaching a child to sleep on their own, and to stay asleep throughout the night by self-soothing.
As I said, there are many sleep training myths amongst mums that I would really like to bust.
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Myth 1: Sleep Training Is Not Worth the Money
This is probably the number one reason why mums decide not to sleep train. The money is just not worth it, they think.
In all honesty, sleep training our daughter was worth every cent! She slept through in just 2 nights. I still cannot describe how amazing it felt to finally be able to sleep all night. It was such a change from having to wake up 4-5 times a night for sometimes several hours.
What did I pay for sleep training? To have a sleep consultant stay with me during the night and have support for 14 days after, I paid AUD $600 (in 2017).
If you can’t afford this amount of money, you can always go for a cheaper option and do the sleep training yourself. You can do this via the Sleep Sense Program, or via Baby Sleep Site’s exclusive Members Area.
Myth 2: My Child Will Eventually Sleep Through On Their Own
There’s some mixed advice about this statement. My answer to this one: yes and no.
If you are with the lucky few, then yes, your child may sleep through and self-soothe by themselves at some stage. Of course, it could take a while. Several years even.
Some children keep having troubles and will wake at least once or twice at night to ask for help, even when they are well into their toddler years (if not even in school already).
I guess this one really depends on your grade of sleep deprivation and the support you have.
I have zero support from family as they’re all overseas, and our friends all have young children themselves to take care off. This can make it very challenging when you’re sleep deprived and diagnosed with postnatal depression.
Personally, I could not have waited any longer (my girl was 10.5 months when we started sleep training her) as I was an utter emotional, exhausted, walking disaster. I felt like I was unable to be an adequate mother and wife, and I needed help. I never regretted this decision and would do it all over again.
Myth 3: Sleep Training Is a Last Resort of Help
You know how experts recommend prenatal classes? Those classes are very informative and helpful for first time mums, teaching them all about going into a labour, taking care after birth, and the first few days (maybe weeks) with your newborn.
What they don’t teach you is how to put your baby to sleep, when and how long they should fall asleep, what negative sleep associations are, ect.
I believe that new mums should be taught this skill just as much as any other, and even best before the baby arrives. This will allow both mum and bub to make a great start with the sleeping process, instead of waiting until mum’s at a desperate stage of sleep deprivation.
If you’ve been considering sleep training, I honestly wouldn’t wait too long to go ahead with it. Why wait to regain your night’s sleep when you can have it now?
Myth 4: Toddlers Can’t Be Sleep Trained Anymore – I Waited Too Long
Although I recommend not to wait too long with asking for help, I also believe it’s never too late to do so. Toddlers are still able to change their habits. Even adults are still able to change if they really want to!
Okay, it may be with a little more resentment, crying, and tantrums than when you sleep train earlier (although that’s not a guarantee). But it’ll still be worth all the effort.
Remember, it’s not only the mums and dads who can become sleep deprived. Their children can be just as much, if not more, in desperate need of extra ZZZs at night.
Myth 5: There Is no Such Thing as Sleeping Through the Night
I see a lot of mums make the statement: ‘Nobody sleeps through the night, so why do we expect it from our babies?’.
I understand where they’re coming from. These words are based upon the existence of sleep cycles.
We all go through different cycles when we’re asleep. Going from light to deep to light again. In the light stage, you may find yourself turn over. Maybe stretch yourself, rub your eyes, or perhaps even getting up for a toilet visit.
However, once you are back into a position to continue sleeping, you’ll most likely fall asleep again pretty soon. There may even be nights that you’re pretty much unaware that you even turned over at all.
Now, I’m just curious…
Imagine this: you had a few brief moments during the night where you rolled over and went back to sleep instantly, almost not even remembering doing so. Do you view this as not sleeping all night?
In my opinion, not sleeping all night (or through the night) includes me tossing and turning, checking the clock a bazillion times, and staring at the ceiling. And if we would all constantly sleep like that, then yes… nobody would sleep through the night.
So, in my humble opinion, sleeping through the night shouldn’t be considered as falling asleep like a rock that doesn’t move all night long.
Instead, it should be understood as being able to sleep and falling asleep again without long moments of being awake, and without the need of someone to rock you back to sleep.
Going back to our sleep cycles…
When you wake up briefly after your light cycle, you probably won’t need your partner to put you back to sleep, do you? Neither will you need him to hold you, rub your back, or sing a song. This happens because you learned how to self-sooth. You learned how to put yourself back to sleep.
And unless you teach your child this same skill, he’ll constantly be asking for your help. Every time that he is in his light sleep cycle, he’ll wake up and panic because he has no idea how to get back to sleep. That’s mummy’s job!
Because you always help your little one to fall asleep again, you’re actually teaching him that he needs you to go to sleep. That going to sleep, is something he can’t do by himself.
Sleep training teaches your child that it’s normal to slightly wake up, and that this is okay. It’s not scary and it’s not something you need outside help for. Your child will learn a new skill: to put himself back to sleep, just like his mummy and daddy.
Now, just before I leave this myth behind I do want to clarify one thing. If your baby or infant still needs a feed at night, obviously they won’t sleep through. You can’t expect a newborn baby to sleep through because his body will still be needing the extra meals.
There are experts that recommend not sleep training your baby before 3 or 6 months of age. But I do believe that you can already create some healthy sleep habits that will help you when your baby is older. And then I’m specifically thinking about minimising the negative sleep associations.
Oh, and one other thing (oops, that makes two): once your child is sleep trained, it doesn’t mean that he will never again have a rough night. He may still have moments where he will need his mum, and then I’m mostly thinking about nightmares and sickness.
Myth 6: Sleep Training Means That I Will Have to Let My Child Cry
Granted, there are sleep training methods that let your child cry it out. Just like most mums, I wouldn’t be able to do this method either. It goes against every instinct of motherhood and just doesn’t sit right.
However, one training method isn’t the other. There are many sleep training methods available with most of them very gentle and a minimum of crying.
Personally, I don’t really believe in the no-cry methods where they promise your child won’t cry at all. The truth is that, if your child is used to you rocking her every time, she will protest to the change. Change is scary for a little one, so you may expect a few tears here and there. Especially during the early moments.
My little girl cried on and off for about 30 minutes while being sleep trained. I was with her the entire time to place a hand on her back when needed. To tell her ‘mummy is here’. To let her know ‘it’s sleepy time’. I stayed with her until she fell asleep and did this for about 10 days.
That was the worst it ever got. Those 30 minutes of on-off crying. All the other times, she protested a little but settled quickly.
Remember, you don’t have to turn your back to your child! You are still with them that whole time, to comfort them and let them know it’s okay.
Myth 7: Sleep Training Will Impact My Child’s Attachment
This was my main worry when I contacted the sleep consultant. I told her I was afraid my daughter would feel like I was abandoning her. Like I wasn’t listening to her call. Like I couldn’t care one bit how she felt.
The sleep consultant understood my feelings and made sure we picked a strategy that I felt comfortable with. This method is known as ‘the camping-out’ method.
You start with sitting next to their crib for 3 days. Then you move a bit further for another 3 days. And again a bit further, until eventually you can leave with them being awake and able to put themselves to sleep.
This entire routine takes about 14 days to work for both naps and night time. Our girl slept from 6pm until 5am (without me having to get up once) on the 2nd night of sleep training. Naps took exactly 2 weeks to get sorted.
As you can see, there are methods that consider attachment and that won’t require you to just ‘turn your back on them’. Tell your sleep consultant attachment is very important for you and they should adjust their methods if necessary. If not… look for another sleep consultant who will!
Myth 8: Sleep Training Won’t Allow Me to Rock My Child Ever Again
The point of sleep training is to get your child to put themselves to sleep and stay asleep. This means that the negative sleep association of rocking, feeding, and pacing your child to sleep must come to an end.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can never again rock your child or hold them while sleeping. It just means that it can’t happen every day/night. It also shouldn’t happen too frequently, and especially not when you’re still in the sleep training process.
What I noticed with my daughter was that, once she was sleep trained and able to put herself to sleep, she didn’t want to sleep on me anymore. She discovered that it is a lot more comfortable to just fall asleep in her own bed, rather than in my arms or on my chest.
Of course, in the first months of their life, this is an incredibly beautiful feeling that I enjoyed as well. But after a few long months of sleep deprivation, I have to admit that I was relieved not to have to do that again.
I still get plenty of cuddles and snuggles on my lap that I enjoy just as much.
Myth 9: Sleep Training Can Only Happen With a Sleep Consultant Visiting My House
This may have been the case in the ‘olden days’, hehe, but not anymore. Many sleep consultants can help you via email or Skype, and a home visit isn’t necessary anymore.
There are even options for you to do it by yourself whenever you’re ready to start training. For example, the Sleep Sense Program by Dana Obleman is completely accessible online. Another popular option is to sleep train your child with the ebook ‘On Becoming Babywise’.
As you can see, there is no need for you to hire a sleep consultant to stay overnight. You can just do it by yourself, or with the guidance from a consultant.
Myth 10: Sleep Consultants Only Do It for the Money and Don’t Believe in Sleep Training Themselves
Oh dear, I saw this statement in one of the comments on the FB page of Her View From Home. I can’t believe that people actually think like that. Because, guess what?
The sleep consultants I know became a sleep consultant because – once upon a time – they contacted a consultant to sleep train their own child. They all experienced such amazing results that they decided to help other sleep deprived mums to regain their night’s sleep as well.
That’s exactly the reason why I decided to start Sleepy Mums Village. I’m not a sleep consultant myself, maybe one day I will, but I want to share my own experience and tips so you can sleep again too.
These are the 10 popular sleep training myths that I hear frequently. Hopefully, I was able to clear the air enough for you, so you can decide for yourself whether or not sleep training would be a good fit for you, your child, and your family.
If you would like to know more about sleep training, you can always have a read through my post ‘Sleep Sense: The Perfect Sleep Training for Your Child’.
Or perhaps you’re looking for more ‘baby steps’ when it comes to your child’s sleep. Then my 5 easy baby sleep tips will do just that.
Do you recognise any of these sleep training myths? Has another mum told you not to sleep train your child because of the above mentioned reasons?
Or maybe you’ve even heard another myth I haven’t mentioned. If so, feel free to let me know. I’d love to hear about it.
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