Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sleep Train Or Don't

(For anyone wanting to know about actual data on sleep training- spoiler, there is very little!- see glum bunny's excellent post on the subject; and Alice's summaries on the subject.  My personal favorite was the one where they showed that parents counseled on sleep training were happier, because they got a little more sleep for a little while, or possibly because they felt they had some vestige of control.  Also, kids go through regressions/ wake up because they're sick/ randomly fall out of bed and scream like banshees [AHEM, Bug].  Or whatever.)

No, I want to talk about parents whose kids don't sleep, who find this circumstance unacceptable, and who don't do anything about it.

Look, people I know in real life: adults have needs too.  If you don't care that your sweet baby is kicking you in the head all night, great for you.  If you want your three-year-old to climb into your bed at 2 AM every night, great!  (In case you couldn't guess, these are well into my OH HELL NO range.)  But if you find it makes you crazy and miserable, it's time to either do something about it, or shut up about it.  You have it in your power to stuff your kid in his or her crib and shut the door for nine hours. Will they still do annoying things in the middle of the night?  Of course.  A lot.  Will you at least feel free to put a pillow over your head and ignore it?  YES.

So sleep train, or don't, but if you haven't even ever tried, then please stop complaining TO ME about it.

(We tried 'gradual extinction' with both kids, and they just screamed much harder, so 'shut the door and come back in the morning' it was. Bug also now earns stickers for staying quietly in bed at bedtime, and then he can buy a prize after 20, currently Transformers, which are the ideal prize: he would never in a million years get one otherwise.)


  1. A-frigging-men. We have friends whose daughter (>1 yr old) has decided to start waking up several times in the middle of the night. They're refusing to sleep train. This is fine. However, they won't stop complaining about it and lamenting that there "is nothing they can do." WRONG! There are a myriad of things they can do to make it stop, but they just don't want to. (And I'm including all the no-cry methods that never worked for Kiddo in here.)

    And, fine, I may be mean to insist on a decent bed time and limits. But I'll take my 8 hours of sleep thank you very much and be mean over here. Also, I credit sleeping with saving my marriage. (Kiddo wanted to nurse all. night. long. This meant 10 very long sleep deprived months for me. I was a wee bit cranky during that time.)

    1. Tatoe did that at around that age. We put him in the office for a week and a half- the location where we can hear him LEAST. But you know what? I'm a mean, mean mom and I don't care.

  2. Alice's site looks like one that could EAT MY WHOLE LIFE--so fascinating. And of course, confirming my own personal view on the matter, which always makes things look like a good read...
    It's really hard to bite my tongue when people go on about how near death they are and I believe there's a solution, whether it's trying sleep training or doing it PROPERLY. I do my best to keep in mind that my resolve has never really been tested because my children sleep well. So yeah, I had a view on this from the beginning, and feel confident and comfortable about my approach, but my feelings are based on my success. And I certainly know of some cases where a person has given it a fair shot and it's failed. Like one Mama I adore who said her kid didn't seem to mind screaming for hours because she cried so much she was just used to it. A real testament to the variation in temperament... On the other hand, I've got a friend who goes on and on about the fact that she only gets 15 minutes to herself every day and it's because she's a hard core's hard to keep my mouth shut, particularly knowing she's judging me for letting my (happy, well-adjusted, securely attached) children cry themselves to sleep. ANYHOW, I could obviously go on and on and on, but my main point is: HOLLA.

    1. I find it perfectly acceptable to complain if one *really* tried it and it didn't work.!. But I also know someone who tried letting her 3-year-old cry for 5 minutes a night and then let her sleep in the parental bed every night. SLEEP TRAINING: U R DOIN' IT ALL WRONG.

  3. "Gradual extinction" also never worked for my boys. C1 just screamed so I would leave him the F alone! And then he'd go to sleep. C2 was banished to the basement a few nights when he just wouldn't sleep. He went to sleep eventually.

    I highly recommend the book "Mean Moms Rule." Not that anyone here might need it, but it gives some justification to "mean" parenting styles.

    Related: Do most parents not realize their children should respect them?
    Personal time - Mommy is working now, no I can't find your transformer. Honey, it's coffee time, you know I never read to you during coffee time.
    Laundry - No, you will not yell at me for not putting pants in your closet, you're lucky they are clean at all, and you can fold them this afternoon.
    Demand for food - Think about your word choice, and try asking in a polite manner.

    1. I feel like for most kids, all 'gradual extinction' teaches is 'if I scream LONG enough, eventually someone will come.'

      Love the book title.

      Most used phrase around here: "Please try again!"

  4. Sadly, I think the things that are going on in our house right now really don't have a straightforward solution. Much of this has to do with the small and crowded nature of our apartment: it is not convincingly safe to lock him in his room anymore.

    I have some (limited) sympathy for the complaining-but-not-training folks because 1) there's such a thing as being at the end of your rope but knowing it's not an appropriate time to train yet (I was not convinced that my very small baby was in fact "manipulating" me by nursing several times a night, despite having been told the same by people who had been parents for 7 whole days longer than I), and 2) being really, really tired makes it hard to be rational. At least for me it does.

    What I don't understand is people who respond to expressions of frustration by: 1) offering a common piece of advice -- generally preceded by the word "just" -- as if you will never have heard of it; and 2) tell you how well their kid sleeps. Well, I have come close to saying on the FuckBonk, screw you and the cosleeper your stinking raisin rode in on, then. At least my kid shows some GUMPTION.

    Hmmm...perhaps the second group are just engaged in a deep game of reverse psychology, reminding me how much I love my kid, after all.

  5. Anonymous3:18 PM

    Amen. People need to ball-up and sleep train or shut their traps. A little commiserating here and there is fine, but if you are going to bitch and moan while doing nothing to rectify the situation than keep it to yourself.

    We sleep trained the eldest and she was doing well until potty training ruined everything. Now, at bedtime she's up a million times, and usually also gets up in the night to pee and wants company while doing it even though she can do it herself.

    We've tried punishments, rewards, praise, censure, ignoring, etc. Nothing's consistently working. It's an ordeal at bedtime most nights. That said my eyebrows are in great shape because I stand in the bathroom waiting to return her to her bed and groom them nightly.

    Thankfully the youngest is a pretty good sleeper still. We kinda/sorta sleep trained him when I went back to work after maternity leave, but he didn't really need much training.


Comments are moderated, so it may take a day or two to show up. Anonymous comments will be deleted.