Baby sleep trainers – do you have the guts to tell them to bugger off?

“We were feeling tired, but happy with our daughter’s progress. She was gaining weight, nursing like a champ, and — best of all — giving us six- to eight-hour stretches of sleep pretty consistently. When we told our pediatrician, she seemed less impressed.

“She could be sleeping 12 hours a night,” she said. “It’s time to think about sleep training.”

Sleep training? An 8-week-old?

Our doctor coached us on the recommended technique.

Place all 12 hungry, needy pounds of our daughter in her crib at 7 p.m. Close the door and return at 7 a.m. No checking, no consoling and definitely no feeding. She would cry — for hours, possibly — but in about three nights she’d get the picture that nobody was coming to her rescue and would begin to sleep through the night.”

True story. This is an extract from a parenting blog, published in the New York Times, titled ‘Sleep Training at 8 weeks: Do you have the guts?

Just days ago, a midwife’s ‘recipe’ for controlled crying was published on a popular blog here in Australia. The heading was “This is the one and only way to get your baby to sleep.” Really? I call bullshit! In fact, there is evidence that it may not work at all for a lot of families.

This week too, I had a mother call me upset over advice from a ‘professional sleep trainer’ who, when I checked, was certified by a company that offers courses on the internet.   This baby trainer claimed she didn’t do controlled crying (as above) or Cry it Out (the first example). But, the baby being ‘taught to sleep’ or ‘self soothe’ or ‘self- settle’ (whatever you call it, it’s a load of rubbish – you may as well ‘teach’ an immobile baby to ride a bike!), had cried for hours.

For the last few months of her sweet life, this baby had been sleeping in a cot next to her mother, breastfeeding to sleep and again, several times a night when she woke. Yes, the mother was tired and yes, she needed help but….

Mrs Baby Trainer advised the mother to move into another room – immediately. Father would train baby by holding her as she screamed. According to the baby trainer, a baby of this age (six months) doesn’t need night feeds.

Mrs baby trainer had ‘gently’ justified that the baby would cry but because she was crying ‘in arms’ this was just a ‘stress release’ cry (even if the baby was distraught for hours).

What sort of bullshit is this? Of course a baby cries from stress when the very thing that will relieve her stress is being withheld. A baby of six months or eight months or even 12 months might need a night feed – a baby this age may be distracted during the day, could be burning some extra calories if she’s becoming mobile or her mother may have a smaller milk storage capacity that means baby will need a few more feeds to get her daily ‘quota’ (so for goodness sake, offer more feeds when she is awake before you stop night feeds – and do it gradually with love, not cold turkey, for twelve hours).

Ask any baby trainer –  can YOU go twelve hours without a drink? A snack?

When I have done workshops with health professionals I have shared an exercise where everyone writes down what they have eaten, drank, snacked on in the previous 24 hours with the times beside each sip or taste. Then I ask them how long they have gone between ‘feeds’. Only one or two people in a room of up to 100 people have ever managed more than 3 hours without a snack or drink – most go an average of ninety minutes. And none of them are trying to gain weight! Many people (and especially baby sleep trainers) don’t advise feeding babies that often (even though it can be perfectly normal)  yet expect tiny babies with tiny tummies to manage without feeds for up to twelve hours at night.

Babies don’t just need food in the night. They need touch – it helps them grow and develop neurologically and physiologically. If we withhold touch for 50% of a young baby’s time of rapid growth and development, how does this potentially affect his neurological and sensory development?

It’s bad enough when parents give each other a hard time about how their babies are sleeping – like it’s a badge of good parenting, not just that you might have lucked out (some kids are great sleepers from the start – luckily for them, they miss out on being left to scream until they vomit or give up altogether), but when professionals tell parents it’s OK to ignore an EIGHT WEEK OLD baby (he’s just come out of the womb, folks – this is the fourth trimester), they are normalising abuse.

When professionals tell you that there are no published studies showing there is proof of harm in training babies to sleep by leaving them to cry, they are talking crap. To my knowledge, there are no published studies proving that cigarettes cause lung cancer, even though there is plenty of evidence.

When they tell you ‘this is just a protest cry’ or ‘this is a stress release cry’ they are talking crap. Forget the fancy pants jargon – YOU know YOUR baby, if he sounds distraught to you, he is.

Baby tamers who tell you to ignore vomit or you will be rewarding the baby for this ‘behaviour’ are talking crap too. Vomiting is a stress response to being left to cry. Would you like to be left all alone in a pool of vomit? If you leave an eight week old baby unattended all night how will you know he hasn’t choked on his vomit? Or what if he shits himself? Does he get to lie in it stuck to his bum all night because you ‘mustn’t go in until morning’?

There is a big difference between ‘no proof of harm’ and ‘proof of no harm’. Just because stacks of parents have fallen for this bullshit because it was dished up by a health professional and their babies are ‘just fine’ isn’t evidence of anything.

Needing a published study to tell us a baby (or any one of us, for that matter) will be distressed if we shut him in a room alone and don’t respond to his cries, is like needing research to tell us the grass will grow if it rains. While there is certainly a difference in physical safety between checking on a crying baby and shutting the door overnight, there are no ‘published studies’ telling us how long it is ‘safe’ to leave a baby to cry. Hell, one book even says to leave your baby to cry for 39 minutes – whose arse was that number pulled out of?

However, there are studies that show there is potential harm in neglecting babies’ needs in order to train them to sleep. While some babies may be ‘just fine’ there is no guaranteed outcome:  we don’t know which babies are more vulnerable or which ones may be at risk. Or when evidence of harm will surface – or which parts of our parenting could have caused harm. Hell it’s a minefield out there for parents!  We don’t need the second guessing or guilt or regret -that awful feeling of ‘if only’ when things go pear shaped.  Our kids aren’t cakes. We can’t look back when we have an anxious 18 year old and say, “shit, I forgot the baking powder!” Or, “bugger Aunty Madge, she didn’t tell me what temperature I should have used!” We need to take care when we make choices on behalf of our babies and health professionals have a duty of care when they give advice about babies. The mantra is ‘do no harm.’

This is a time of rapid development: a time when tiny brains are being wired. Cortisol receptors are developing in the brain (the more cortisol receptors, the better the capacity to mop up stress in the future). Being ‘gutless’ and ‘giving in’ to your baby’s cries, as your instincts are urging, could be helping him develop the optimum chance of wiring his tiny brain to manage stress –for life!

Night-time breast-milk is rich in tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin. We now know that eighty percent of our serotonin receptors are in the gut. Serotonin receptors affect neurotransmitters and hormones that influence various biological and neurological processes such as aggression, anxiety, appetite, cognition, learning, memory, mood, nausea and sleep. This could mean that night feeds (if an individual baby needs them, some babies choose to drop night feeds at early ages) may play an important role in development of serotonin receptors and future well-being.

Research (reported here or read the study abstract here)  shows that babies release cortisol (a stress hormone) in large amounts when they are left to cry during sleep training. They are still releasing the cortisol even after sleep training has ‘worked’ (that is, even after the baby has stopped crying and is sleeping). According to researchers such as Uk Psychotherapist, Sue Gerhardt, stress from leaving babies to cry and the subsequent flooding of  baby brains with cortisol, may prime the brain to over or under produce cortisol and affect the capacity to respond appropriately to stress, throughout life.

While there are lots of variables beyond infancy that can affect the development of healthy stress responses and this evidence may not be ‘proof’ of harm, it certainly suggests we don’t have ‘proof of no harm’.

Thankfully, there are plenty of professionals who aren’t telling parents they only have two choices: leave your baby to cry until he ‘learns’ to sleep or suffer, if you don’t have the guts to leave your baby to cry.

Please keep listening to your baby, listen to your own heart (or gut) and have the guts to tell the ‘baby tamers’ to bugger off.

If you are desperate for sleep or you worry that your baby may have a sleep problem (if it’s not a problem to you, it’s not a problem), reach out and ask for practical support so you can catch up on sleep (you aren’t imposing, most people love to be involved with a baby), look for a health professional who will address reasons for your baby’s wakefulness such as feeding or medical issues and guide you to make changes, gradually with love. Or read a book offering gentle solutions.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and confused by any advice – whoever is dishing it out – put on your bullshit filter and ask: “Is it safe? Is it respectful? Does it feel right?” If you give something a go and it is stressful to you and your baby, have the guts to ditch it.

Pinky McKay is an IBCLC lactation consultant and best selling author of Sleeping Like a Baby, 100 Ways to Calm the Crying, Parenting By Heart and Toddler Tactics (Penguin).  Check out her books here. Don’t have time to read, Pinky’s books are now available worldwide as audio books 

 

Photo with permission by Mel Muller Photography   sleep cover new

57 Comments

  1. Mumma McD Says Reply

    I love you Pinky! I read that article in the NY Times and was completely horrified – what kind of Dr could be giving out that advice? A paediatrician FFS!! Monster.

    Your advice and gentle suggestions make me feel so much better about myself and my relationship with my 20 month old boy, who still struggles to sleep through the night. He settles back off very easily with a quick feed, and despite being told by numerous people that I’m doing the wrong thing by feeding him, I feel like I’m just responding to his needs in the quickest, easiest and most natural way possible.

    Just keep boobin’ I say!

  2. Sheena Lawson Says Reply

    good on you, Pinky with your fantastic common sense! How could a parent let a baby cry it’s little heart out when their instincts tell them to pick up their baby! As an IBCLC I am often asked questions such as this. I tell the parents to trust their own instincts, in caring for their baby and to ignore all the well-meaning advisors who seem to know the baby better than the parents!

  3. Jessica Jones Says Reply

    And let us think, too, about the “modern western world” sheer arrogance of this. Did our cavemother ancestors, presumably with many people and children sharing a cave, and without the luxury of a separate “nursery cave” nearby, have the “luxury” of deliberately letting a baby’s shrieking wake up the entire tribe? Do our fellow mothers in the third world, where large extended families share one or two rooms, without the luxury of a separate nursery, have the luxury of deliberately letting a baby’s shrieking wake up the entire group, and do so for many days straight? Do they recommend that whales, dolphins, pigs, cats, dogs, horses, elephants push their infants away for 12 hours? If Sea World separated newborn calves from their mums for 12 nursing-free hours a day, they woud have charges brought against them and there would be a public outcry.

    • Kristen Falk Says Reply

      Exactly! This is my favorite comment ever!

    • Pinky Says Reply

      “Sheer arrogance ” indeed! Love your post Jess

    • dp Says Reply

      Respectfully responding here. But I think it’s a bit silly to bring us cave-dwelling as applicable to where we are today. I do believe that village parenting now is lost and we don’t get the support or guidance that we did in the past, way past. Life is different and humans seem to adapt and even other species do as well to survive as the world changes. The typical argument that in the “past” we didn’t have multiple rooms or we wore our babies all the time was based on survival. I will also note that in the “past’ if our tribe was in danger of being attacked and in order for the tribe to survive we might have to abandon our babies, that was what needed to be done. So, I wouldn’t idealize or take just one aspect of a culture built from necessity and means to be the “right” thing to do. I think it’s absurd and insulting to take specific aspects of certain cultures upbringing when you don’t take the whole life experience of those cultures and make it sound like they had a choice, which they didn’t. That’s not how human survival works.

      • Laura Says Reply

        I like this comment! A lot of societies these days no longer live in a ‘caveman’ environment and don’t understand or are unable to have a whole village raise the children. Personally I live 1000+km from my family and 2 and 3 hrs from my in-laws and the few friends I do have near me work full time jobs as well as looking after their own families. I’ve spent 2 months on less than 3 hrs sleep a night, I have an extending limited support network, a toddler with medical conditions, an infant who will only leave my side for 15minutes at a time, financial stresses, and have developed PND. I’ve used 3minute ‘self soothing’ for my toddler and now I’ve started with my infant, and over the last 2 nights ive gotten 5 to 6 hrs of unbroken sleep and I feel like I can face the world again! BOO to those that shame those who use self soothing or controlled crying methods. I would never leave my children to cry for hrs on end but teaching a child to sleep is not always as bad as people make out.

  4. Kelly Says Reply

    thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!

    • Sandra Says Reply

      What I think is, in modern parenting, there should not be shaming, because different techniques have had to be ‘invented’ to deal with life as it is today. Some techniques work for some families, and other families prefer just the opposite. If it works for your family, you are comfortable with it and your children are developing normally (within the scope), then it is ok!

  5. Ida Says Reply

    Thank you Pinky!!!! I just wish the baby sleep training info sheets were taken down from the Royal Children’s Hospital and Raising Children websites here in aus – so many young mothers get fed misleading information that just makes them feel bad and promotes neglecting babies:(

  6. Emily Says Reply

    Thank you for your voice of common sense. It’s so reassuring to read your books and articles. There is so much out there telling us to leave them to cry, train to sleep etc etc that I eventually gave in at one point and tried it. It stressed me so much I was a complete mess and going mental. I’d been loaned your “100 ways to calm the crying” and pulled it out in desperation to find something to help us. It saved my sanity! Sleep training went out the window from that point and we went back to responding to her & following our gut, and it made all the difference. I was calmer, so my daughter was calmer, and everyone was much happier. So we got up a bit more, still fed during the night etc etc. So what? It won’t last forever. I no longer feel guilt about not leaving her to cry. How crazy that I ever was! Thank you!!

  7. Monique K Says Reply

    Oh this is such a great article. So tired of hearing what SHOULD be happening with my baby. I know when he is distressed and he is still so little and growing. It’s a gently transition, not a cold turkey concept to ensure I get better sleep. I sleep better knowing that he is loved, nurtured and feels safe with us as parents. That’s worth a good hour’s sleep!

  8. Amey Says Reply

    I love you!!! I am now going to repost this everywhere possible!!!!
    Thank you!!

  9. Jupiter0 Says Reply

    i totally agree with you. I tried everything with my first son but none of this ‘sleep training’ worked with him. My sister did the sleep training and raved about it, good for her but it killed me seeing my baby son so distressed when I left him. I think I only managed this for 3 nights and the longest I left him to cry was possibly an hour until he choked and that was it. Babies are all different, sleep training may work with some babies but I soon learnt that with my son he did everything in his own time when he was good and ready. He didn’t sleep through until he was 20 months. He is now 8 and he goes to sleep as soon as his head hits the pillow whereas my sister send her boys to bed and they eventually fall asleep. Guess it’s my turn to rave about sleep training!

  10. Elisabeth Halligan, IBCLC Says Reply

    I love this! I was aghast when I saw this article, too. (I penned http://www.chaosandcritters.com/pediatricians-dishing-out-dangerous-sleep-advice/ a few days ago simply because I HAD to vent about how horrible the advice was.)

    An additional consideration… what’s to happen to a mother who has been breastfeeding (even if it is just intermittent snacking) who then tries to prove they are “tought enough” to not feed that LO all night? Massive engorgement and all of its consequences!

    It’s a horrible situation all the way around.

    • Pinky Says Reply

      Thankyou Elizabeth – I love your article! Ill be sharing that too. The more information parents have against this baby tortures, the better armed they will be to dispute it

  11. Tiny Dreams Project Says Reply

    The New York Times article describes practices at Tribeca Pediatrics. We have a petition letter of which they are among the recipients. If you would like to add your voice to show that some people find their practices unacceptable, please consider signing the petition letter. Let’s make a difference together. Petition link here: https://www.change.org/p/healthcare-professionals-support-and-empower-sleep-deprived-families-with-gentle-sleep-strategies

  12. Elna Says Reply

    Thank you Pinky. You have respect for babies and no it never feels right to ignore cries from our babies. This is what j needed to read when i ‘failed’ to sleep train my babies cause my feet had always quickly taken my body to my babies when they cry and my hands picked them up. You dont know how isolated i feel when well meaning friends reminded me that i didnt give my baby an opportunity to self soothe. I feel confident now knowing that i could follow my instinct and my baby slept through the night at 2 yo naturally. No no, i am neither imposing any guilt on anybody nor i am feeling like a perfect mother (i fed my kids weetbix the other nights just because i couldnt cook dinner’ and they loved it. ). However i completely hate the idea of ignoring the baby cry. Someone has to speak on behalf of the baby. If anyone feels guilty by their choice, wouldnt that means that they too felt that ignoring the cry was wrong. Well written response Pinky.

  13. Nicole Says Reply

    Whatever you want to introduce into your babies lives, we all have to do our own research and decide what we feel is best, no matter what others think, express, or feel. I did do sleep training with our son and daughter. For us it was the best thing we could do. I never ‘ignored’ my children when they would cry. I tweaked the so called program to fit our lives and our children’s feeding schedule. Both of our children are healthy, happy, and great sleepers.

  14. Alice Says Reply

    When I had my son, I was completely unprepared for the abundance of harsh training advice that still abounds at the moment. I thought that had all died out long ago, and I feel quite upset seeing some of my friends’ babies screaming themselves to sleep every night! My problem is that I feel like I can’t put forward my point of view anymore, because people feel like you are calling them a bad parent if you mention the harm in crying it out. I will continue rocking and/or feeding my son to sleep for as long as it comforts him – 5 minutes to get him to sleep is far preferable to 3 hours screaming in my opinion!

  15. Tanya TC Says Reply

    Love this article, thanks Pinky! I’m a new mother to an adorable 1o week boy, and so confused about how he’s “supposed” to be sleeping at the moment. Between comparing sleep stories with other mums, googling about sleep or trying to follow the mentioned “mid-wife” routines, I’m made to feel my baby if failing in the sleep department. He normally catnaps during the day (between 30 min – 1 hr ) then we get 4-5 hour stretch from about 7pm … and after that 2-3 hourly sleeps until the morning. But everything I read suggests he should be sleeping longer during the day and longer stretches overnight. However I refuse to let him cry it out , he is too little and precious to be left distressed…. this article makes me feel I’m making the right decision.

  16. Rachel @ The Mama Files Says Reply

    I was at the doctor’s yesterday and telling her that my bubba is sleeping in our bed a lot lately (due to a leak over his cot, and him being in our room still (he’s 8 months) and being sick this week as well, and I happened to ask if we were making a rod for our own back by letting him sleep between us for a few weeks while we sort out the leak etc.

    She replied, ‘At his age you really should start sleep-training. He’ll go in his cot no problem every night, so long as you can handle him screaming the place down for 3-5 nights running.’

    My smile just froze. This a doctor I love and respect who seems so compassionate and loving towards my son. I didn’t know what to say so I just mumbled something and got the hell out of there. Then I took my poor sick boy home and cuddled him to sleep and let him sleep on my bed in a big nest of pillows. Cos that’s the only way he will sleep right now, and that’s okay with me.

    PS. I do want him back in his cot as I sleep better and so does my hubby when we’re not sharing our bed with him, but he is so happy sleeping in between us. Doesn’t stir at all and sleeps til 7am most days (5-6am in his cot). Those cave women had it sussed. (As does most of the world who co-sleep without a second thought.)

  17. lulu Says Reply

    I had similar advice given to me by my GP last week about my 6 month old after she mentioned that I looked tired.
    Even after 4 kids I still don’t do well with crying. My boy sleeps with me and breastfeeds (often) over night when he wakes.
    My GP suggested I move him to another room down the end of the house so I wouldn’t be able to hear him cry. Just the idea broke my heart!

  18. Deborah Says Reply

    Leave the bf advice to the Bf experts and sleep advice to the sleep experts. Siting studies that, if you had understood them correctly which are are not relevant to establishing healthy sleep really are not helpful to the audience reading your blog.

  19. Karina Says Reply

    Deborah, can you please elaborate? I’m unsure of what you’re meaning to communicate.

    • pinky Says Reply

      As an IBCLC lactation consultant, I consider myself to be rather an expert in breastfeeding. I don’t know what you are referring to. Mothers ARE the experts about their own babies. And it certainly doesn’t take much ‘expertise’ to know that leaving a baby to cry without being responded to is potentially unsafe.

  20. sally Says Reply

    This is a terrible article, insistently vilifying a whole range of mothers that choose a method other than your own. There is research for both sides and at the end of the day, sometimes it’s in a babies best interest to have a rested mother. When someone’s opinions are so strong on an issue, they sound unable to listen to reason or even research an argument that isn’t their own, how many peer reviewed journals did you read for the other side before you came to your conclusions. No critical thinking has been applied to the writing of this article at all. Mothers, if your baby is healthy, happy, loved and growing, you’re probably doing something right, no matter your sleeping arrangements (whilst following the SIDs recommendations at least)

  21. sally Says Reply

    Oh you’re selling a book on your methods. Now I see the vested interests of your view.

  22. Charlotte Says Reply

    I love it indeed! :)) the passion you express you point with pinky is wonderful! I completely agree with you. I tried sleep training for one night for about 2 minutes and my gut twisted up and I thought this is so NOT right!

    I decided right! I will respond to my baby demanding feeds and what anyone who hasn’t had kids would think are redicious hours of the night and after a few months of fairly sleepless nights my son is now down to waking three times a night. I am ecstatic 🙂 it’s so good to know he’s happily learning to sleep with comfort and feeds he needs 🙂

  23. Josey Says Reply

    Yikes … all these harsh responses on your blog post … struck a chord Pinky! And good for you! There is WAY too much research that proves that a baby crying for hours on end, with no one coming to the rescue literally has adverse reactions in their little developing brains.
    Moms are the absolute best judgement and it’s in a mothers natural nature to respond to the cries of their babies. Our breasts leak when a baby cries … we respond!

    I nursed and co-slept with my toddler from birth until 2 years old when she made the choice to sleep in her own bed. Yes, my little tiny 2 year old said “Mommy, my bed” and that was it. It kinda made me sad lol.

    Now my little 6 month old son, sleeps and nurses with me all thru the night.

    I certainly don’t judge others for their ways … I simply encourage research!

  24. Kim Says Reply

    Some of the problem is that our society is so quick to go to Sleep Training. Rarely is a comprehensive check done on environmental factors, babies birth, parental mental health, food intake, allergies etc. They are simply “bad sleepers”.
    We’re also not set up for parents to easily cope with natural sleep progression, returning to work early, many without family or spousal support, not to mention the focus on babies needing to be independent to caregivers early on etc.

    I don’t judge those who sleep train, I get it. I do judge our society for not giving the right kind of support parents need, and for there being no regulation on the baby industry in terms of books and programs. Majority of mainstream books on babies on shelves these days contradict guidelines of SIDS, World Health Organisation, Car Seat Safety, Leading allergen-ists and breastfeeding organisations. Parents aren’t encouraged to check the qualifications of the person because they’ve been told there is a problem and their baby won’t “learn” to sleep without being taught, and that they need to be “saved” from wakeful nights.

    My new favourite hobby is to take sleep training books and change the word baby to Grandmother or Wife, and then have people check their gut instinct.

  25. Claire T Says Reply

    I resisted the urge to get sleep help when my daughter was small (resulting in hideous deprivation as she never slept through the night).We tried CIO in desperation once and when we hit the four hour mark of crying realized that it wasn’t going to work with our daughter. Unfortunately we still have her end up in our bed every night at just shy of five and a half. I am sure there is a middle ground but my husband and I are still sleep deprived!

  26. Simone Says Reply

    YES. So much yes!!!! We have a baby who very rarely sleeps. Yes I’m exhausted, yes I get moody, and yes everyone keeps giving me crap advice.
    No, I won’t leave him in his cot to cry himself to sleep, instead I cuddle him, I breastfeed him, I tend to his every need. Sometimes I do this whilst seeing double or with a twitching eye looking like a crazy lady with my hair all a mess, but do I care? No. Is my baby happy? Yes. And that’s all that matters!!
    Ps. I love you Pinky!

  27. Jacqui Says Reply

    Babies will start to sleep through when they are ready to sleep through! I had a wonderful support team with my hubby heading up the group and at no time did anyone question my ability to be a parent and know my boy. I did move him out of our room earlier than I wished as we were disturbing him with snoring and every little sound he made I would check on him so really self inflicted sleep deprivation but after being in his own room for maybe a week he started to sleep through from about 8to 9pm to 5or6 am, didn’t work with the same timeline for B2 she was a little diva and slept better in our bed from 8pm and when she had fed later around 11 went to her bed and stayed asleep till usually 7 am. I had it so easy I admit, but you know your child better than anyone else, never met a baby that had read these ‘books… studies whatever’ so I think if your pediatrician isn’t the pres of your baby raising fanclub move on you don’t need that negativity much less pay someone for it.

  28. Louise Says Reply

    A baby that sleeps through, in my mind and experience .. Only does until the next tooth or next time try are sick anyway! We need to help new mothers by telling them that their really isn’t such a thing as sleeping though… Well till about 4 or 5 !

  29. Shelley Says Reply

    Pinky, you are the most amazing awesome lady – thank you for this great article. Boobs and cuddles all the way for my baby girl! Yes I am tired from being up at night, but I know I will never look back and regret this special time.

  30. Susan Campbell Says Reply

    Hi Pinky My youngedt is now 8 nearly nine. My three babies all booby babies for one year and beyond. I still have seversl of your books on my shelf. They were my lifesaving affirmations that my instincts were to be listened to and my babies needed me the most. Thank God for you and that wonderful non judgemental institution ABA. So proud of myself and my mothering. So grateful for your sensible advise, msntras in my time of need, my friend that inderstood. Thank you ♡

  31. Susan Campbell Says Reply

    Hi Pinky My youngest is now 8 nearly nine. My three babies all booby babies for one year and beyond. I still have several of your books on my shelf. They were my lifesaving affirmations that my instincts were to be listened to and my babies needed me the most. Thank God for you and that wonderful non judgemental institution ABA. So proud of myself and my mothering. So grateful for your sensible advice, mantras in my time of need, my friend that understood. Thank you ♡

  32. Mandy Says Reply

    Great article!
    I was just wondering if the negative consequences mentioned, such as priming the brain to either over

    • Mandy Says Reply

      Sorry, I accidentally pressed done!
      I was wondering whether the negative consequences could also apply to toddlers, whether their brains are still able to be ‘primed’ to over or under produce cortisol in the future or does this occur much earlier in their growth/development only? My toddler (26 months) will occasionally cry when I put him down for a nap or for the night – to me he is protesting because when I go in he is all smiles and there are no tears, but I still hate the idea of leaving him to cry al

  33. Eva Says Reply

    We have an 11 week old baby girl, my first who is breast-fed. She has always slept longer periods through the night at about three weeks old she was going four hour stretches or five hour stretches. I feed her on demand, I have no problem breast-feeding her despite the fact that even my OB/GYN was like “oh you feed her on demand not on a schedule?” And I could tell she didn’t think it was good but I didn’t care. At this point, at 11 weeks she’s been sleeping up to 11 hours, I just give her a couple of dreams feeds, feeds while she is still sleeping if she is making noise in her sleep and I can tell she’s hungry. So maybe two times in just under 12 hours i’ll feed her. The only thing I wish is that she would nap better during the day usually she just has catnaps on me, sometime she’ll go in her bassinet, and also it is usually difficult to get her to go to sleep at night, I breast-feed her and we cuddled her and we have side card her crib to our bed but she still can take an hour and a half to fall asleep, she fusses. But all things considered I’m just gonna let her do her thing because I think this up session with sleep schedules is crazy. I thought that I would sleep train her but I know that there is no way I can let her cry and ignore her, and I think we are obsessed with sleep training as a society because in the United States we get no maternity leave. I’m staying at home and no I’m not rich, but I scrounged bit of money and put it aside and we are just going to be conservative with our money so I can stay home with the baby this year, so I’m not obsessed with her schedule because I don’t have to be, I just wish she would go to sleep earlier because my husband wakes up at 3:30 AM to get to work and he refuses to sleep in a separate room to catch up on his sleep because he wants to be near me, so if she would go to sleep earlier he would get more sleep but other than that I’m not worried and I think in time it will fall into place. I think you’re right that we should be going with our instincts at first I felt guilty nursing her to sleep etc. but I just decided to ignore the sleep experts they’re just trying to make a buck anyway and babies are in need of love and compassion. If I was crying and my husband ignored my crying, I would be devastated why do we think that infant should be ignored?

  34. Snowy Says Reply

    I had the worst sleeper in my mothers group. I was amazed at the thinking from almost all people that offered their ‘free advice’ that ‘crying it out’ was thought of like a rite of passage – something that everyone had to do with their baby otherwise they would NEVER sleep. I fed my son or cuddled him every time he woke, even 3-4 times a night at 1 year old and eventually at about 14 months he slept all night. I didn’t do anything except respond to his needs. He still needed his milk in the night and I knew it. Even though I’d been told that he was ‘capable’ of sleeping all night by the child health nurse I knew my baby. That didn’t mean that in my delirious sleep-deprived state I didn’t constantly doubt myself. In the end I just started to lie to people because I was made to feel like it was my fault he wasn’t sleeping all night because I wasn’t sleep training him. I was choosing not to sleep train so I would just have to suffer the consequences. Instead of unsolicited advice I don’t know why people don’t offer more support like looking after the baby when the mother is really tired or cooking meals? As mothers we’ve all been tired why aren’t we more sympathetic and understanding?

  35. Wendy Says Reply

    Thank you for this article! When my son was a baby, everyone said to let him cry it out, but I couldn’t. He couldn’t fall asleep unless he was breastfed. And when he was a toddler, he always wanted someone to stay with him until he fell asleep. He outgrew it eventually. He’s 9 now, and sleeps just fine through the night. 🙂 He woke up to be nursed in the night well into his second year, probably even into his third year. My twin daughters dropped evening feeds on their own and started sleeping through the night at about 11 months. (When I say sleeping through the night, I mean 12 hours without waking). I was amazed, as it took until my son was nearly 3 for him to be able to sleep that long!

  36. Pinky McKay Is One of my Favourite People - Parenting Central Says Reply

    […] And you gave me the best filter for whether or not to trust what other people are saying, by asking myself – Is it safe? Is it respectful? Does it feel right?” […]

  37. A Ayala Says Reply

    I just love this article. I have been a preschool and kindergarten teacher and early literacy teacher and a parent educator. I have worked with well over 100 kids and or families. And I have never “trained” a child to do anything. When I had my own daughter in knew sleep training was out of the question as soon as I heard that word. I have the happiest, most curious, intelligent, and securely attached kid I know. I really can’t imagine that she would be the same if I had left her to cry.
    Children are not for “training” they are for “raising” “teaching” and “caring for”. And most importantly loving.

  38. Kat Says Reply

    Thank you so very much!! Everyone seems to think every baby is the same and needs to be sleeping throughout the night. My bub started sleeping through the night at around three months of age until six months when her teeth started to bother her. Hubby thinks I need to do controlled crying and I felt sick in my stomach at the prospect. I wanted to tell him to bugger right off!! It’s not him that’s getting up anyway to breastfeed.

    She gets hungry or thirsty during the night, hell even I can’t go a couple hours without some water during the night!
    Why is it considered such a crime to respond to our child’s needs?! And why are we made feel bad about it?! I want her to know that She can come to me for comfort. I breastfeed her then rock her back to sleep and she is totally content and so am I because I feel that it’s the best thing for us. Yes, I’m tired but what mum isn’t?! So great to read there are other mum’s out there that don’t feel pressured by others because their bubs aren’t sleeping throughout the night. Thanks for the article I really needed it.

  39. John S Green Says Reply

    Great post! I love the needed directness of your words. People will do anything for a buck—preying on uninformed parents. It is sad and mad emoji at the same time—right?

    I have a new friend! Yay!

    Papa Green Bean (John)

  40. Help! My baby will only sleep in my arms - The Natural Parent Magazine Says Reply

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  41. Accidentally, in love - why advice to ignore your baby does your head in - The Natural Parent Magazine Says Reply

    […] your newborn, you will understand why there is such a struggle between the ‘logic’ of sleep training advice and your urge to respond to your […]

  42. Kat Says Reply

    At what point of their lives is it fair to teach toddlers to self soothe, toddlers are notorious for protesting any changes to sleep routine is that different from the crying you talk about as babies being taught to self soothe?

  43. Is the Sleep Training culture contributing to the rise in Post Partum Anxiety and Depression? – Grubby Mummy and the Grubby Bubbies Says Reply

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