Baby Sleep Training with a No Tears Approach

By Misty on in Attachment Parenting Baby Sleep Help Baby Sleep Training and Schedules with No Comments

Baby Sleep Training with a No Tears Approach
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I absolutely adore rocking my daughter to sleep. I love the closeness, her hand reaching up to my face and the little smiles she gives me as she drifts off to sleep. Falling asleep like this is peaceful for her and I know when I lay her down and walk out of her room to spend the evening with my husband that she feels safe enough to sleep calmly and for a long period of time. These days at 10 months old, she sleeps from about 7:30 at night until 9 or 10 in the morning, uninterrupted.

18 years ago, however, my first born son and I were crying it out at bed time which involved frustration and tears on both our ends. Everyone kept telling me to let him “cry it out” and eventually he would learn to soothe himself to sleep. That never happened. It was a horrible experience. I can still remember him at 6 months old sitting in his crib with his arms reaching up for me to pick him up with complete horror in his eyes. After a few months of this torture, I finally gave up on the “cry it out” method and went back to comforting him…his sleeping habits changed dramatically for the better. I was getting better sleep too. I knew from that first night when I had him back in my arms and he went to sleep so easily, I would never use the cry it out method on another one of my children ever again.

I realize that some people believe in the cry it out method (CIO) and as a parent it is your choice to do what you feel is right for you and your baby. But I ask you to consider the following: If you go to bed warm and snuggled up in your partners arms, don’t you feel and sleep better than if you go to bed after a fight, with hurt feelings and maybe even one of you sleeping on the couch? Are the feelings of a baby any less relevant?

I’ve read “studies” and “recommendations” from psychologists and to be honest it baffles me as to why so many people are against being intimate, close and comforting to their baby at bedtime. No, I’m not a doctor, but I am a mother and have seen first-hand how babies react to being left alone in the dark to cry themselves to sleep. No amount of degrees or studies is going to convince me that this is a loving practice to do to a baby.

Now, I’m not saying babies shouldn’t learn to self-soothe, eventually children must learn to go to sleep on their own, but is refusing to hold them the answer? Is ignoring their love of being rocked to sleep or refusing to breastfeed to the point of a baby coma (what my husband likes to call it) the right thing to do? Your baby isn’t crying because she’s trying to make your life miserable or trying to manipulate you (yes I’ve seen people actually state this as fact). They cry because they are helpless…because they want and need your affection, your love and your comfort. There isn’t a psychologist on the planet who could convince me that denying these basic needs is a loving way to treat a baby.

How Do I Put My Baby to Sleep Without Crying?

I work from a plan. I believe in setting some structure in place to help my own children know that it’s time for bed. I believe this has taught them all to enjoy bedtime with mom, to keep a strong bond but also to know that they can sleep easily because if they do need something, mom will be there. I’ve done this with all of my children and all of them have done well with it, slept great as toddlers (and didn’t need mom to fall asleep as they got older) and are all around well adjusted and happy kids.

  • We start our bedtime routine with bath. My daughter loves the warm water and while there is a little bit of playing, she always comes out of it a bit drowsy. We are also big fans of the Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Wash. I’ve never been a strong believer of aromatherapy but I received this as part of a bath gift at my baby shower and it’s all we’ve ever used since my daughter was born. Their studies have shown that it helps baby’s sleep better and I’ve been made a believer in that as well.
  • After bath, my daughter enjoys a nice massage with the Baby Bedtime Lotion, also from Johnson’s. I mainly stick to her arms, legs and tummy and this really starts the calming process. Tip: Warm it up in your hands after you squirt a little out, it can get cold in the bottle.
  • We then move onto pajamas. My daughter likes to kick her blanket off at night and we tend to keep our house fairly cool to keep everyone else comfortable. To keep her from getting cold and possibly waking, her pajamas typically consist of a onesie plus some fleece pajama pants. This keeps her warm if she does kick things off, but I stick with short sleeves so she doesn’t get too warm.
  • My daughter and I then enjoy story time while she drinks a bottle. She is the first one of my kids that I wasn’t able to breastfeed so storytime allows us to have some snuggle time before bed.
  • By now she is drowsy but our time together isn’t quite over. The lights go off in her room, I wrap her up in her blanket and we rock back and forth for about 10 minutes before she is completely out.

Our schedule has really been that easy. When I finally put her down in her crib, she does wake slightly but only to roll over on her side to get comfortable as I lay her blanket on her. She does occasionally have an “off night” where she wakes up hungry (no plan is 100% perfect) but her normal every day sleep habits keep her sleeping for about 10-14 hours every night at her current age of 10 months old.

I don’t have to return to her room. I don’t have to sit in there patting her on her back as she cries herself to sleep because someone told me not to pick her up. It’s not traumatic or chaotic. To be honest, it’s lovely. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet. I can’t image a parent wanting their child to fall asleep any other way.

Further reading recommendations:

The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night : Foreword by William Sears, M.D. (Pantley)
The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family (Sears Parenting Library)

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