Now that Nathan is well over six months old, the question of sleep training seems to be the hot topic at my baby groups.
Sleep deprived mums clutching strong cups of coffee and wriggly babies ask the other mums in the room for advice. They want sleep, lots of sleep, but they don't want to leave their child crying alone in a dark room either. They are lost.
I feel lost too. I am usually the mum in the corner of the the room listening, taking in the advice being dished out, but not getting involved. That's because I never really believed in sleep training. I have never forced Nathan to cry himself to sleep, never denied him a night feed, never done any training. (Well, actually, one night we tried the pick-up, put-down technique but we got to pick-up number 65 (!) and quit).
But you see...I was eavesdropping as usual last week at my Tuesday group and got all confused. A Health Visitor had joined the group and she said the official stance is that babies over 6 months old should "all be capable of sleeping through the night". And if they don't the parents should "do controlled crying to get them to sleep through".
So then I started to feel guilty (you know, the usual mom guilt thing). Was I denying my child sleep because I didn't want to sleep train? Was a few hours of crying actually for his own good even though it went against everything I believed in?
I went home and had a cup of tea and mulled the whole thing over. I was still confused, but I was also angry. Angry that no matter what choice I make I will feel guilty. If I don't sleep train, the Health Visitors will make me feel guilty that my child isn't sleeping through the night; if I do sleep train I will feel guilty for letting my baby cry.
Nathan has never slept through the night, but I just don't think I am ready to let him cry himself to sleep. I may never be ready. [By the way, I don't have anything against people that do sleep train. I know they do it for the right reasons, but it is just not for me...at least not right now.]
In my confused state, I started reading different articles online, and I found comfort in this statement from the Kellymom website...
Remember that night waking in babies and young children is normal and temporary!
Children grow out of night waking, even when we do nothing to discourage it. This period of time will be a very tiny part of your child’s years with you.So I am going to just ignore the Health Visitors for now and continue to remind myself that this is all temporary.