In our series The Debate, our community of real moms tackle the pros and cons around common parenting choices. The truth is, like so many decisions around child rearing, there is no right or wrong answer. At HATCH, our job is to give voice to both sides of any debate, peppering real mom wisdom with the necessary facts so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.
Judging by the thousands of books, videos and products dedicated to sleep-training, it’s not just a way to get your baby to sleep, but a billion dollar industry. Professionals like Dr. Richard Ferber and Dr. Harvey Karp have made their careers out of infant sleep and yet it continues to rattle new moms to the core. In our sleep interview with pediatric expert Dr. Aliza Pressman, she says, “Sleep is one of the most important components to a healthy, developing human being…..How you get your child to sleep and where they sleep is where the controversy lies.”
One thing’s for sure. Whether you decide to sleep train at the very first moment possible or let your baby figure it out on their own over the course of years, you’ve got to figure out what works best for you and your family. In our Debate, below, we hear from two moms – one who sleep-trained at 12 weeks and the other who continues to let her baby lead. Check their stories out below and you do you.
Ohhh HELL YES to Sleep Training
Sophie, 8 months
“I remember reading all the books. I read 12 Hours’ Sleep by 12 Weeks Old. I read Ferber. I read everything I could get my hands on during my pregnancy regarding sleep because I’ve heard all of the nightmare stories about babies who just don’t sleep and parents who don’t do anything about it. By the way, I’m not one of those people who can get away with little sleep. I need my eight hours. I knew going into having a baby that it might be a long time before I’d be able to get that again, but I was going to try my best.
When I polled my mom friends, regardless of what method or strategies they used, it always seemed to come down to one thing: that babies have to, at some point, do some crying on their own to get to sleep. That as parents, we are actually helping them with a major life skill of getting themselves to self-soothe rather than swoop in and take care of them every night so that they come to rely on us. I fully drank the Kool-Aid on this idea. So with the blessing of my pediatrician, at 12 weeks to the date, I decided to let my daughter cry it out for the first time, and you know what? It sucked. I totally sucked! It was heart-breaking, it made my stomach turn and it went against every instinct I had as a mom to not rush in there and swoop her up and rock her back to sleep. But I held on, and after felt like hours ( even though it was probably 20 minutes), I didn’t hear a thing, and that was it.
The next night, I tried the same thing. Sophie woke up at her usual time, like 1am, and started crying. Again, I stayed strong, knowing that it takes a few nights, and instead of 20 minutes, she went back down at 15. Slowly, throughout that week, those wakeups got shorter and shorter, until five days later, on our final night of sleep training, she slept through the night.
I can’t say if I just have a good sleeper, or if I started her early and got good results. But fast forward eight months, and with the exception of a cold or a tooth coming in, I feel almost as rested at night as I was before my pregnancy. The days, however, are a much different story.”
Multiple Wake-ups is My JAM
Greyson, 9 months
“I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about sleep training while I was pregnant. I did know that I wanted to give my child a more baby-led type of environment rather than parent-led, whether that meant nursing on demand, not keeping to a specific nap schedule, and holding him often and rocking him to sleep. I guess I believe that everyone figures out how to get to sleep eventually and I was going to stress it.
That said, by the time Greyson was five or so months of age, I did find myself super exhausted with all of the wakeups. He was still waking up every four hours and because I was exclusively breastfeeding, all the wakeups really fell on me rather than my partner. I decided one night to let him cry a bit just to see what happened. Well, fast forward a half hour later, he was still wailing and it was getting progressively worse. That sort of ended our sleep training journey.
I will say that once I started introducing food, one of his wakeups dropped and now he only gets up once at 10:30pm or so and once at 2:30am. I can pretty much handle the one wakeup for now, and hopefully as he gets older and starts eating more food, he’ll drop that one as well. I’d love to say that my baby figured it out on his own, but he’s still little, and I think there’s still hope! Some of my friends say that I missed the window of sleep training, and that he’ll never figure it out. I can’t imagine that’s the case, but I’d rather it take longer than do something I’m not comfortable with.”