Recently, I had a client tell me that another sleep consultant was leading her towards cry it out by telling her something like “If you are in the room, that is like holding an aspirin in front of someone with a headache.” and how cruel that is. This was an interesting statement that made me pause to consider whether this other consultant was right. Let’s discuss!
Let’s go back to you teaching your child how to ride a bike without training wheels (and why crying is sometimes part of sleep training no matter what). Now, let’s assume your child falls off the bike, scrapes her leg and starts crying. You have the training wheels right there in your hand. You just took them off for goodness sakes! Do you put them back on? Do you give your child a hug? Do you wipe her tears? Or, do you leave her to herself to deal with it? Do you just stand there not doing anything? I can bet $100 that almost everyone would say that you’d give her a hug and wipe her tears!
I recently watched this video of Super Nanny’s method of transitioning a co-sleeping child to his own bed.
The biggest problem I have with this video/method is the mom couldn’t console her child even a little bit? That is outrageous to me! True, that it was better at least the mom was in the room, but I don’t understand what the harm would be to console her child. You are changing a long-term (3 years!) routine of sleeping together and even if you are standing firm that you are transitioning him to his own sleep space, it doesn’t make sense to me that you can’t reassure him, give him a hug, and try to help him settle there. Just because you are consoling him doesn’t mean you have to “give in” right? So, in this regard, I agree that this seems cruel, especially on the first night. In my toddler sleep book, I have a much different approach for long-time co-sleepers and I can bet that this mom would have a difficult (I might even say impossible) time sticking with this during any night-waking, after Jo is gone, and through any backsliding. Jo did not give this mom a routine to follow that everyone could feel comfortable with! As I say quite frequently, the best plan is the one you can stick to, not always the most “logical” (whatever that means to you, because this video is illogical to me :)).
This is an area that bothers me about traditional “sleep trainers” is that it’s either all or nothing. Why can’t there be an in between? I’m all about baby steps while sleep training.
Does this mean I never think there’s a time when maybe your persistent baby or toddler needs to have firmer limits? Absolutely not. There is a HUGE difference between a baby or toddler who CAN self-soothe and who is CHOOSING not to. There is a difference between you taking a few days to a month to teach your baby or toddler a new routine and then they are still resistant to it or simply exerting their strong will. Expectations are everything and every situation has unique aspects to it. You know your baby best, in that regard.
Does this mean that some babies or toddlers won’t be infinitely more frustrated you are there with the breast, bottle, pacifier, or bouncing ball, but not using it? No. Some will truly hate that and you may do more harm than good staying in the room. But, does it hurt to try? Does it hurt to first teach the new routine before you expect them to do it on their own or alone without your encouragement and reassurance? Everyone will have a different pace to sleep training (are you a tortoise or a hare?) and I certainly do not pass judgment on those who know their baby best and choose to “rip off the band aid” rather than drag it out, but for those of us who like “baby steps” I do think there is an in-between and I urge many parents to try it.
What do you think? Rip Off The Band-Aid or Baby Steps?
If you’re looking for ways to to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.