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Can sleep training and attachment parenting co-exist?

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
baby sleep training

Busy writing

As many of you know I'm busy writing a book on sleep. The topic of attachment parenting and sleep training features in one of the chapters. It certainly got me reading a lot of research papers and books.

For some parents, the topic of baby sleep training and attachment parenting can never ever be said in the same sentence. However, I'm of the opinion that it can. There are some parents that never want to sleep train and that is OK. It's not for everyone.

But for those parents who are so exhausted and have nothing left, sleep training can really make parenting a pleasurable thing once they're getting some good quality sleep. The capacity to care and parent to a reasonable standard can be better achieved through a good nights sleep. I see too many mums that are utterly exhausted and have nothing left.


Can baby sleep training and attachment parenting co-exist?

We see baby sleep training as being harsh and punitive, denying love and comfort. When we say or read the words sleep training, our mind often jumps to images of controlled crying and crying it out. The next jump we do is to images of abandoned babies in Eastern European orphanages like we’ve witnessed on TV. In my practice as a baby sleep guru, I’ve discovered that being kind and providing comfort actually gives better results and is a win for both baby and parent. Sleep training can be gentle. If we always have the research for attachment parenting, at the forefront of any sleep program, we would help a lot more babies and their families. My specific methods are based on psychological theory and are behavioural in approach. They have also been adapted further to include cuddles, love and ultimately respect the parent-infant relationship whilst establishing healthy sleep routines.

sleeping baby

Yes there is often crying on night one. I'm not hiding away from that. There is no such thing as a no cry sleep solution only a less cry. It also depends on whether your baby was bed sharing and if this was all night or just migrated in the early hours of the morning. To try and get a baby into a cot when he doesn't even know what a cot is can be extremely challenging but it can be done.

So what is attachment parenting?

Attachment parenting is about being available for your baby to meet their emotional needs. We often refer to it in the same terms as bed sharing and babywearing as in using slings to carry baby in rather than using a stroller. When I mention the words bed sharing some parents may think that co-sleeping is the same thing. However, co-sleeping can just mean sharing a bedroom. To avoid confusion I’m referring to sleeping in the same bed as your baby as bed sharing.

Attachment parenting is a philosophy some parents choose to practice. We often set out not to parent in a certain way and once you’ve met the little one you do a 360. You may not have set out to baby wear and bed share but you feel so in love with this baby that you can’t bear to be separated. Parenting is personal and your style of parenting is personal to you. It may just be a purely practical decision. Mums who breastfeed find it convenient to have the baby near them so they don’t have to get out of bed to feed their baby at night. Bed sharing can help promote and maintain breastfeeding so I can see the benefits.

Family In Bed Holding Sleeping Newborn Baby Daughter

Why do parents have to choose to follow a doctrine exactly?

Are any of us one size fits all? Do all our babies want to bed share or breastfeed till five years old? I’ve met many babies who dislike bed sharing and yet their parents wanted this to happen and I’ve met babies who’ve self-weaned at 9 months and it left their mums feeling rejected and distraught. It’s about respecting the baby’s choice as well as the parent. Wouldn’t it be a boring world if we all did the same thing? Why can’t we choose the parts of parenting we want to follow and reject the others that don’t appeal to us?

It’s important that you know my views on things and why. Once we know someone’s motivations, we can understand them so much better. I’m very much into psychological attachment theory, however, I’m not a fan of bed sharing. I'm going to examine that a bit more in my next blog. I recently went to the Sydney Toddler & Baby Expo and had a look at some safe bed sharing cots and while I was there I had a listen to Pinky McKay too. I came away feeling truly enlightened and definitely inspired to write this book!

More helpful info

You'll also want to know about the support you'll get when you join my online nurture sleep program.

You get access my 3 decades of experience as a registered midwife and child and family health nurse.

You'll be equipped to help your baby self-soothe with gentle and kind methods.

You will take your baby from sleepless to slumber in up to 7 easy lessons across 3 age groups when you join.


? FOODS that promote baby sleep
ROUTINE: easy, flexible, sleep-ready
? ENVIRONMENT: getting it right
?? DEVELOPMENT: changes, how these affect sleep
? SLEEP METHODS: secret tips that will change your life

It will stop the guesswork and give you:

A tried and tested approach (20 years of helping families with baby & toddler sleep)
Gentle baby sleep methods
Holistic assessment
Nurture & Nourish nutrition program – all recipes have sleep-inducing ingredients and a perfect balance for a good nights sleep
Access to a closed Facebook group for one on one support from Karen and 90+ timecoded Facebook Live videos
Prevention for under 4 months so no need to do sleep training ever
And all at a low $97 for a very limited time

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