Sleep Trainer or charlatan?

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What is a Sleep Trainer? The wording is slightly off putting, I think. How can we train a child? Like we train a pet? And if we can ‘train’ our children to sleep without any negatives and experts have the answers, why don’t we all know the secrets?  Why isn’t it working for everyone?

I am in a privileged position… don’t worry, I’m not going to say that I have babies that sleep, because unfortunately I don’t… but to meet many new parents on a regular basis as part of my baby massage classes. I have heard many sleep woes; as well as stories of babies who do sleep for most of the night and have done so from as young as 6 weeks (the holy grail, I am owed a baby like this I think).

Two clever women have told me two pieces of advice which to me seem to be contrary to there being any sort of ‘sleep expert’. The first was a Doctor who was taught if there are lots of different products on the market for a problem, it generally means that they haven’t found something that actually works. Like teething, some people use necklaces, some use gel, some use powder, some use Calpol, while others use teethers. Yet, so many babies struggle with teething and I am yet to meet a parent who has found the complete solution, or at least a solution that works for multiple babies. The other fab piece of advice was from a fellow mum; she was very to the point and just said “you either have a baby that sleeps or you don’t”.  There is nothing you can do about it, it’s just the way it is. I like this explanation, but it would be pretty much the opposite to ‘experts’ selling a myth, service that will get your baby sleeping.

Yet, what if they are on to something? why can they not agree on one method? does ‘cry it out’ really work and have no lasting impact on the baby?, or are the critics right and it does in fact just teach a baby if they cry no one will come. Is the more gentle approach of going in and out of the room multiple times, just laying baby back down until they sleep, the way forward? Or is this not prolonging the upset and showing baby that it’s a battle of wills? Does letting them sleep in your bed mean that you will have problems later? Is feeding them to sleep a comforting way of helping them drift off, or creating bad habits?

The point is no one knows, and certainly not everyone agrees. We all have our methods that work for us, or if not work, ease the challenge slightly at night. We all find our way of getting as much sleep as we can.

One thing I do know for sure, it does not last forever and I don’t know any 15-year olds who are left to cry/fed to sleep/ sleep in their parents bed or need their mum to repeatedly lay them back down when they wake at night. So Sleep Trainers, perhaps we need to let nature take its course and rather than train our babies to sleep, perhaps we need to train us parents to accept the facts. Some babies sleep, some don’t, they will get there in their own time and it’s not because of anything you are doing that’s right or wrong, it’s just the way it is.

What do you think?

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This Mum's Life