Amazon shows 2,262 search results for a search for “sleep training”. Book after book, gadget after gadget. Things to make noise, things to make light, things to wrap your baby up in cloth that imitates your arms.
What the books don’t tell you, what the gadgets aren’t honest about, what the noise machines and the light machines and all those other mothers at the playgroups don’t tell you about is this:
Some babies do not sleep until they are ready.
It’s not your fault.
There’s nothing you should do differently.
There’s nothing you can do differently.
And it’s okay.
There are tricks that you can learn that might help make things easier. There are things you can try that your baby might or might not respond to. There are coping mechanisms you can develop to make it easier on you. There are things that you and your partner can do to help relieve the stress on your relationship.
If sleep was as easy as “put the baby down awake but sleepy”, or “just let him cry for five minutes”, or all those little simplified lines of advice that we hear.. There would not be so many books on the topic. There would not be so many gadgets. There would not be so many other mothers talking about it on forums and in play groups.
It’s not that easy. You are not failing. You should not feel bad that you feel the need to respond when your baby cries. You are not creating “bad habits”. You are reassuring a small and dependent human child. You are not “taking the easy way out”. You are supporting your baby’s sleep while they need support.
All those “sure fire guaranteed” ways to train your baby to sleep are not guarantees. They are tools that work for some babies and parents and that do not work for others. Just as tools in a toolbox are not the guarantee of a house being built if the wood available is not the right size or cut for a house. And all those things in all those books won’t work to make all babies sleep in the same way.
It’s okay to ignore the books that insist that you ignore your child. It’s okay to be responsive. It’s okay to pull your baby close for as long as they need you near. It’s okay to wait until you can teach them how to sleep with words instead of with tears cried alone.
It’s okay. It’s normal.
And once you realize that it’s okay and normal you can fill up your toolkit with all the things that work, throw out all the ones that don’t, and settle in to snuggle that sweet little one of yours and to teach them to fall asleep with joy and with love rather than with tears and a battle.
You are not alone. You are in the company of many.
The books don’t tell you this because they want their “method” to work.
Your baby is not a method. Your baby does not need to be a method.
You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re doing everything right. Now drop the worry, drop the anxiety, and come join us to see if we can help you fill up your toolkit with the things that help.
You do not have a one size fits all baby. You have your baby. A unique and wonderful human being with unique needs.
And that’s a beautiful wonderful thing.