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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Kid not sleeping? Maybe you are the problem



Portrait of a Mother and Daugter in Bed Awake and the Father Asleep

I ran across a very interesting study in Today's Parent about this whole idea of co-sleeping vs. "training" a child to fall asleep on her own. While many studies look at methods to deal with night waking, few looked at how these methods effect parents. It turns out, if you don't buy into what the doctor is selling, chances are very good it's not going to work for you.

According to this:

On average, those who believed their child would feel abandoned or get even more upset if they didn’t respond quickly reported less success with sleep training. Conversely, those who believed it was OK to let their child cry at night for sleep-training purposes, and who were able to resist their child’s nighttime demands, tended to be more successful.

I have no doubt that's true. The people I know who had success with the Ferber Method (where you put a child to bed sleepy but awake and return in 2 minutes, then 5, then 10 and then every 15 minutes until he fell asleep) had the problem solved in about three nights for a kid 6 months or older. But those who really didn't have the stomach for it,  they just couldn't make it work. 

Mine was 9 months when I did it, so I knew his cries and I knew he wasn't going to die from crying for 5 minutes while I was out of  the room. I also realized I had become a human pacifier by nursing to sleep so no one could put him to sleep but me. So I can see how someone who tried it and failed would think I'm painting too rosy of a picture of my story of three nights of Ferber and a kid who napped until kindergarten and never woke up after 9 months of age unless he was ill or teething. 

I've always advised friends that if they don't think they can stick it out, don't even try it because you'll only make matters worse if you do a half-hearted attempt and go back to co-sleeping. The kid will only learn to ratchet up the crying even more the next time you attempt it.

I have nothing against co-sleeping or those who choose to never sleep train, but I'm tired of the beating bone-tired mothers get for this. I often detect a certain high and mightiness from people who co-sleep and breastfeed all night, insisting it's oh so easy. For many, it's not.

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne


[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:05am]


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