Sleep training and the debate about, is it good for your baby can send most parents into a tailspin. Most parents arrive at the decision out of necessity. Rarely arriving at this decision because life is rosy. Mums call me when the wheels have well and truly fallen off. Not when they’re just a bit wobbly. Making it much harder because they are sleep training when they’re already exhausted. And making the risk of caving once the going gets tough, even more likely.
Effects of Sleep Training on Baby’s Brain
Parents worry about the effects on their little one’s brain of sleep training. They have concerns about what the stress hormone, cortisol is likely to do. The majority of parents also think that the only option is controlled crying. Often turning them away from sleep training full stop.
Chatting with a mum in a cafe, who was feeling very tired after a rough night with her toddler as soon as I mentioned sleep training I saw her recoil. Reassuring her that their is an option to sleep train in a gentle way and there is no need to controlled crying or cry it out. Once I told her a lot of parents who practice attachment parenting will come to me for help. And manage to do sleep training without traumatising either themselves or their baby, she was much more amenable to the idea of doing it.
Witch Hunt on Baby Sleep Trainers
There is a witch hunt against sleep consultants/baby whisperers, i.e. professionals who practise and advocate for sleep training for far too long. It’s time to declare war on those hardliners. I’ve always been of the polite and respectful variety of baby whisperer. Until the online trolls descended and decided on becoming rude and disrespectful. Once they start to affect mums and dads with their crazy half baked opinions. With not one iota of fact in evidence-based practice. It’s time for gloves off. And I’m fighting their pseudo-science and disrespect in a way they have no idea about. Their lack of intellect and evidence in their opinionated articles is quite astounding. Resorting to swearing and aggression in the online world is a poor way to bully people. And by using such words they’ve already lost the argument.
We Need to Care For and Nurture Mums
I’ve become accustomed to seeing broken mums and dads and very sleep deprived babies and children. How has it got to this? I worry about mums’ mental health and how little energy they feel they have to parent their baby or child. And it needn’t be like this. We need to advocate for those little ones that don’t have a voice and mums who have been brainwashed by hardline attachment parent advocates. And no I’m not naming names. They know who they are. Any extreme in life can be a little dangerous. We need to help the mum to help her care for and nurture her baby.
Mums start off being lulled into a false sense of security by these hardline attachment parenting ‘experts’. And I’m using that word ‘expert’ quite loosely. I’d like you to question their qualifications and knowledge. And ask how these ‘experts’ have ended up telling parents to ‘just put them in the bed, feed them whenever they want it and just pat them back to sleep again’.
Do they actually know the impact of their lack of evidence-based advice? I think pseudoscience is a very dangerous road. Because these experts are not nurses, midwives or doctors they actually have no professional organisation they are accountable to. So they can and do say whatever they like. However, I myself as a Registered Midwife and Nurse cannot. My advice and information is accountable. And I’m governed by AHPRA and the NMB of New South Wales and the NMC of the UK.
Effects on The Mums and Baby of Lack of Sleep
They obviously haven’t seen mums scheduled in a psychiatric hospital because of lack of sleep and diagnosed with puerperal psychosis or severe postnatal depression. Seeing that has broken my heart. And their new baby removed from their care because they aren’t allowed to keep them in a lock up psychiatric ward. Lack of sleep does very dangerous things to mums mental states.
So why exactly does the Australian government fund and provide sleep schools if it really is harmful to babies? Exactly, it’s not harmful, quite the opposite.
If we allow mums to carry on like zombies because it’s all about the baby, are we actually working in the best interests of that baby? The capacity to care is severely compromised. Mums tell me day in, day out, that they haven’t had the energy to play with their baby, smile at him or cook nutritious food because they are so damned exhausted. What does that do then to the developmental and emotional outcomes of that baby? The stats on the consequences are scary. And I’m not scaremongering. This is hard cold fact. And these effects are as far reaching as adolescence (see table 1 in the link above).
Evidence Based Practice
In my next blog, I’m going to look at all this research that ‘experts’ wheel out, that are against sleep training and I’m going to analyse what it exactly is trying to say. And why sleep training is not harmful and is actually a good thing for the babies and parents that need it. Parents don’t need any more guilt shoved in their direction. They need support and empowerment. So hardline attachment anti-baby sleep trainers, keep in your own corner, zip it and stop the judgement. It’s hard enough for most parents without your bile and vitriol getting hurled around. Can’t we all parent as we damn well like? Sleep training or no sleep training? ‘Nuff said.