We’re a month away from finishing our first blog series of the year on Sleep training and we hadn’t yet answered the question “why do some parents choose to sleep train?” the only reason that this is an important question to ask and, “why do some parents choose to potty train?” isn’t is probably because sleep training has ended up with a bad reputation. If potty training involved your baby reluctantly crying in the bathroom for a long time, maybe it would be controversial too.
Sure, parents don’t love applying any teaching method that results in baby crying, even if its sole purpose is to help babies not cry at night anymore. What can we say? We’re all human, we have hearts, it’s hard to hear your baby cry. However, here’s why the link between crying and sleep training may not be as strong as you think and why parents will still choose to sleep train.
More on our sleep training series
- Why parents choose not to sleep train
- Sleep Training tips months 1-6
- Sleep Training tips months 6-12
- Explore more…
We asked Quora and our Facebook Support Community of Cubo Parents about why they choose to sleep train and when it clicked for them here are the answers we got!
Want to submit an answer yourself? We’d love to read it. Find it here.
Why Some Parents Choose to Sleep Train
1.“Parents are the ones who need training”
“There’s no “training.” It’s just sleeping. You can’t train a human being to sleep — we are built to sleep. It takes time for a newborn’s circadian system to mature, but after five months or so, a baby is capable of long stretches of nighttime slumber. … Parents are the ones who need training. However, learning to fall asleep on one’s own is an important skill that you can help your baby learn when she is old enough—at about 4 months. Most experts and research agree that letting a baby or toddler cry as they go to sleep will not have any long-term damaging effects.”
While we think it’s true that parents can use some lessons about baby sleep (link) and how to make the best decisions to prioritize their baby’s sleep schedules and avoid overtired states, there’s one thing we want to emphasize. Sleep Training is not just crying. According to Dr. Weissbluth (link), Sleep Training can be preventing bad sleep habits or solving sleep problems after they happen. One will inevitably lead to more crying than the other (the latter), but there are plenty of ways to teach without leaving your child to cry alone for hours.
2. “[parents who choose to sleep train] just don’t know any better”
“In most cases, parents don’t realize when having a baby how much sleep they really lose. Also, they just don’t know any better. They are getting advice from friends, family, online, etc. Personally, I don’t sleep train. Never have and never will. But parents who do, that’s their choice.”
We definitely agree that it’s their choice. Parents, as we’ve said before, know better than anyone what they need. If they choose to follow their friends’ or family’s advice and it works best for their healthy and safe sleep, we’ve got no complaints. If there are baby sleep experts out there (link to sleep consultant article) who are willing to help you get more sleep, why not take advantage of the tools many of our parents and grandparents didn’t have? ??
3. “It’ll be over quick and your sanity restored”
“When our baby was born, I took half of my paternity leave (6 weeks) while my wife was on her maternity leave (3 months).
We agreed that I would then take the last of my paternity leave when my wife had to return to work. During her maternity leave, our baby would only nap whilst being next to mom. I told my wife that when I took over, it wouldn’t work, that I couldn’t just be in the nursery or our bedroom 24/7. So. We started sleep training at about 2 months and a few weeks, right before her leave was up. It was really tough at first, our baby crying at night for sometime. Not knowing whether or not she needed to be checked on or was just lonely. We kept an eye on the Cubo and just made sure to check every once in a while.
Within 3 days, our baby got it. She would conk out and be fine. The next part was nap training which she took to almost immediately. What I think helped with all of it is just making sure she was on a schedule. She knew bedtime cues of bathtime and books. She started learning that being put in the swaddle (now sleep sack) means she was going to be put down to rest. At times, she would fight it, but once she understood that hey, she’s been fed, her butt is clean, and she’s in a nice familiar place, she takes her sleep.
To all the parents who are struggling with the method. Be firm with yourselves and make sure you and your partner support each other. It’s tough to have your baby cry for the first few nights. It doesn’t not hurt when your baby cries and you can’t do anything about it. But it’ll be over quick and your sanity will be restored.”
We love seeing mom and dad supporting each other. According to Dr. Weissbluth, a father’s involvement in the sleep training process is actually considered a “sleep training resource”. If you have that resource, take advantage. Two can do it better than one!
4. “Baby sleeping like a champ” (after some transitions)
it was a long ride trying to sleep train her. We hit a wall when she woke up every hour on the hour when we transition her out of our room and started her Cubo cam in her actual room. Thank goodness ?. Sleep training was only needed for 3 days and she is a champ and sleeps through the night again with no interruptions. Except when we have early morning diaper changes. Lol
A lot of parents struggle with the adjustments you have to make to sleep training when there are developmental breakthroughs with your baby. Like, for instance, when they’re learning to roll over (designed for babies page), when they’re teething, etc. This mom is a great example of toughing it out and knowing that, even when you have to readjust and “start again” you can likely get back on track in a matter of days
5. “I gave him the comfort he needed and laid him back in his crib”
What clicked for me was that sleep training was just not going to be a thing. This season of our lives is such a short one. Yes, sleep is in short supply in those first months. It can be hard. It was just harder for me to accept that my baby had to cry himself to sleep when all he needed was comfort.
So I did the opposite of crying it out. When he cried, I went to him. I gave him the comfort he needed and laid him back in his crib. I went back to bed and this repeated several times. After a while, he realized that if he needed me, I would be there. That is honestly what made him sleep through the night. A sense of knowing he wasn’t alone.
This time around, baby girl is a ridiculously good sleeper. At 2.5 months, she is sleeping through the night most nights. If she does get up to eat, she goes right back to sleep. I realize she is not typical and how lucky we are. My son didn’t sleep through the night consistently until about 10 months. He would wake once to nurse still and I was ok with it.
I understand that there are many kinds of sleep training. For me, even a couple of minutes of crying did not feel ok. I am sure other moms feel the same, and my reason for posting was to tell them it’s ok to NOT take all the sleep training advice mamas are given. It’s ok to just listen to your gut if it tells you to just comfort your baby.
We are all different and have different thresholds of what feels natural and good. Some babies, my 10-week old daughter, for example, are naturally good sleepers. She has slept through the night pretty much from day one. I was waking her to eat at first, so I didn’t explode or have to go pump at 2 am.
My son needed to eat/be comforted once a night for a pretty long time. This was not a burden for me. In fact, some of those middle of the night feedings as he got older and more interactive, are some of my sweetest memories. Rocking in the chair, singing him songs, and nursing him. They are my forever moments. 10 hours of straight sleep, for me, pales in comparison to those moments with him.
So yes, by all means, what works for you and your family is what is best. This is also an option.
Believe it or not, this mom is 100% right. What she might not know is that what she did is sleep training. She used the pick-up-and-put-down method. When the baby cried, she entered, comforted her baby, and put them back down. She adjusted her sleep training needs to each of her children and their needs.
If you’re thinking about sleep training. These 5 reasons why parents choose to sleep train might help your decision. We know it’s better to find a family that’s similar to yours and make decisions with recommendations and reviews rather than doing it blindly. As we’ve said before, mom and dad know best. No one is more knowledgeable about a baby than an informed parent who’s consulted, researched, and intuited the very best for their little one.