Sleep Training Expert Against Breastfeeding, for CIO

Lauren Flynn Kelly

As a new mom, "sleep training" is a buzz phrase that I've been hearing and choosing to ignore. My daughter isn't even 3 months old, so her routine is still our routine. There's no reason I should be messing with her sleep, right?

Then a pal pointed me in the direction of a sleep training seminar, and I decided to see what all the buzz is about, if only to meet some other new moms and commiserate over our lack of sleep. I got to do the latter, but as far as my sleeping baby goes, the idea of training a baby to sleep when you want her to sounds pretty unrealistic.

Here's an idea of how I came to this conclusion:

Sleep Expert: The goal of sleep training, which should start at 4 months, is to be able to put a baby in a crib with her eyes open and get her to fall asleep on her own. Establish a bedtime somewhere between 6 and 8 p.m., and let her sleep for 12 hours.

Me: Twelve hours?! But I'm breastfeeding! 

Sleep Expert: By 4 months, your child's stomach will be big enough to take in larger meals during the day and will not need to feed at night.

Me: Okay, but my child does not fall asleep until midnight, and never without someone rocking her to sleep or me feeding her right before she goes down.

Sleep Expert: If she cries, let her "cry it out," although have someone -- not Mom if you're breastfeeding -- check on her just to make sure there's not something wrong that needs attention (like a poopy diaper).

Me: Ha! Really? Our child would actually cry herself to sleep?! I have not once in the 10 1/2 weeks of her life seen her do that. I cannot even imagine this being possible for our little screamer. She can really ramp up the tears when being ignored.

Sleep Expert: Clear out the crib of any toys, crib aquariums, mobiles, or anything that makes noise, and replace with a white noise machine to distract from sounds like cars passing by outside.

Me: Sooo ... now she's crying and she has nothing to distract her? Not even that awesome butterfly mobile I just bought for her that she loves more than anything else in our apartment and giggles and flirts with any time we put her in the crib? 

Sleep Expert: A baby should sleep 15 hours a day, and take three naps a day.

Me: Er ... my baby sleeps for about nine hours total, and the majority of that time is at night. She is up, up, up during the day, eyes wide and looking at everything. The only way to get her to nap is put her in the sling, and she will freak out if she's transferred to the crib.

Sleep Expert: There are good and bad "sleep associations." The negative ones include rocking, putting your finger in her mouth, giving her the boob, and swaddling.

Me: Okay, now I'm just the worst parent ever! I do all of those things.

Honestly, I don't know if I will pursue sleep training or let her continue to run the show, as Dr. Sears would recommend. I think further research is needed!

Have you tried, or will you try, sleep training?

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