I think back to when I had my first baby, back before I started Talkin’ Sleep. I remember those sleepless nights and how desperate I was to get sleep the “right” way. My baby just wouldn’t sleep and I was looking for that magic solution.
I kept googling, youtubing and turning to social media for all the answers and had these debates with myself in my head.
- That’s it! I need the perfect schedule. But wait, I tried every single one of the schedules listed and the sleep stayed the same. 😭
- Yes, yes yes I’ll just stop nursing to sleep. I heard it’s a bad habit and can interfere with him “connecting sleep cycles”
- I just need to “teach him” to stay in his sleep space. Put him down. Tears. Pick up to comfort him. Put him Down. Tears (both of ours this time) Wash. Rinse. Repeat!
So I diligently unlatched, tried sleep schedules, and everything else that promised magic results. And with each trial my heart sank a little. It also felt like I was taking away the pieces I loved about connecting with my baby. And every time the result was the same – no improvement to sleep, exhaustion I couldn’t believe, and heartbreak.
It’s official. I failed.
Seriously, it’s how I felt, and I started questioning everything and trying to recall what I learned in school about infant emotional development. This was hard with a sleep deprived brain.
Is this really the only way to get him to sleep? Ignore everything I feel in my gut, and learned in my training as a child and family therapist? Isn’t sleep a biological function? They should learn to self-soothe by crying? Wait, that makes no sense! Babies can’t even calm themselves – that happens much later. I don’t think it makes any sense…and it feels awful.
But the real kick in the pants to find something new was when my first son was only 4 months. The lack of sleep landed me in the hospital from exhaustion. I was destroying myself and I couldn’t do the sleep chaos anymore. I needed sleep, REAL sleep – you know the kind where afterwards you feel rested and not like a zombie of a human.
The glory of oh-so-sweet sleep
I knew one thing for sure – I was not going to leave my baby to cry. So I turned to my support system – my in-laws. We headed over to their house for a sleepover and decided if it meant sleep, then a bottle would be alright for me.
That’s the night I had a 6 hour stretch of sleep for the first time since having a baby and it was glorious. I still remember it. I felt rejuvenated. I felt like a new person. I also felt empowered to find a totally new approach to sleep that actually felt right and aligned with what was important to me (for me that was nursing to sleep as much as I liked + never leaving my baby to cry + allowing myself to respond however felt right in my heart and as fast as I wanted).
In the clarity I gained from my restful 6-hours of sleep I finally had the words to describe what I wanted in helping my baby sleep and finally the internet gods blessed me with the answer, baby-led sleep. The founder happened to create a brand new certification for sleep “consultants” to help families sleep without sleep training. It turns out, I wasn’t alone! There were other parents and professionals saying HELL NO! to outdated sleep training methods and looking for more updated solutions.
FINALLY – things started falling into place…
- It is NORMAL for babies to nurse to sleep, to want to be with you and to need you for sleep.
- It’s okay to trust my instincts.
- When we figure out exactly WHAT is waking baby…guess what happens? They sleep!
- When I understood that some of what my baby was doing is actually normal and that I am doing a great job – I felt relieved and confident!
From the moment I landed on that baby-led sleep webpage, I’ve deepened my resolve to flip the coin on the baby sleep world. Since then, I have added sleep support to my services as a practicing therapist. Because I have made it my mission to make sure that every parent knows that there IS a choice. There is a better sleep philosophy than what they have been told. That cry-it-out and sleep training is NOT the only option. That intuition and a science based understanding of how babies develop can be the biggest asset in a family’s toolkit of helping their children grow into the healthiest versions of themselves.
I won’t lie…In the beginning I was STILL skeptical about how this whole baby-led sleep thing worked, even after helping my own baby sleep and even while helping my first few sleep clients with this approach to sleep.
I have worked with hundreds of families (one on one and through my course, Baby Sleep Essentials) and time and time again successfully helped them reach their sleep goals without leaving babies to cry, without sacrificing what’s important to them and without following rigid rules that made no sense. (Because some of these common rules and “facts” are truly wild when you really take biology and infant development and mental health into account!!)
Are you struggling with your own sleep philosophy? Not sure where you stand or where to start? TAKE OUR QUIZ and identify your Baby Sleep Philosophy, we’ll even email you a sleep education checklist to get you started with finding the sleep solution that’s right for you.