Imagine that you are given one wish for the planet. The big kahuna – world peace – is off the table. Instead, you have to choose one of the lesser issues to address: hunger, global warming, slavery, for example.
If I had my wish, I would abolish sleep training from the planet.
Why this, out of all the other possibilities?
First, it is a cruelty perpetrated on the most innocent of victims: millions of babies who have barely arrived in this world, who can’t speak in any language.
Second, it is cruel. It is ignoring another human’s cry for help. We would never do this to adults!
Third, it destroys trust. A baby who has been left to cry by its parents has its trust in them permanently affected. Parents who choose to ignore their babies’ attempts to communicate have chosen outright to distrust their children, replacing the baby’s perspective with that of the parents. I believe this to be true whether the parents were standing by the door or not, going in to check every 5 minutes or not. And we simply don’t have the research to show where this lack of trust will show up later in life.
Fourth, because it goes against nature. Babies are made to be close to their parents and to have their needs responded to. It is how humans have survived for thousands of years. Babies are born expecting and needing that closeness to survive and thrive. If we deny it, we deny nature.
Fifth, it is a loss for parents and for babies. The comfort, fun, bonding of being close with baby and responding to her needs is replaced by stress, tears, anxiety, and managing the relationship. This is not fun for any of the parties involved.
Sixth, the scientific research is firmly stacked against sleep training. In various studies, sleep training has been linked to emotional withdrawal, loss of trust in parents, physical distress and raised hormone levels, emotional problems, and – get ready for it – sleep problems. Yes, the very tool that is promoted as a solution to sleep “problems” has been shown to create greater sleep challenges down the road as kids are afraid of sleep and develop assorted sleep difficulties.
For more technical information on sleep, please check the following links:
International Patterns of Sleep
Continuum Concept: parenting in traditional cultures
So please: hold your babies. Love your babies. Sleep with your babies. Respond to your babies’ needs. You will be rewarded with a deeper bond and a grateful child. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that in the face of strong social pressure, you stood up for your child’s well-being and took a stand to protect her.