To the mama who won’t sleep train her baby…

 

I am right here with you. 

**This post is not meant to shame moms or parents who do sleep train…you do you, Boo.**

This post is meant to support the moms (and dads) who choose a different style of life. And to let you know…you’re not alone.

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Let me start off by saying, I am not an “expert” in anything. I’m a former first grade teacher turned stay at home mom to two adorable bubbas. While I do have a master’s degree in early childhood education, I don’t have anything in “sleep”, “sleep training”, or all things sleep related. I didn’t even know sleep training was a thing until I had Nugget and started down the rabbit hole of googling things late at night.

Parenting looks different for everyone.

My parenting style is a combination of: my personality, upbringing, trial and error, research, and instinct. 

Whatever choice you make, make sure it sits well with your gut.

******

When we first brought Nugget home from the hospital, we had her crib and nursery all set up because… that’s what people do, right? She slept in her crib for a total of 2 nights. I just couldn’t do it! (If you can commiserate, read how I accidentally started bed sharing.) I remember lying in bed with my eyes wide open (even though I was exhausted beyond belief), listening for any sounds. The minute Nugget cried, I ran to her crib and scooped her up, relieved to be reunited with her.

Putting my baby in a crib did not sit well with me. Sleeping next to my babies feels natural. 

Of course, it’s not for everyone and there are safe ways to do it. For me, it just feels right. It truly makes my heart happy. 

“How long do you plan on bed sharing?”

“How long do you plan on nursing?”

Quite honestly, I don’t have a numerical answer. I plan on doing both for as long as I am able to/as long as it feels right for all of us.

Breastfeeding my babies feels right. Nursing them to sleep also feels right!

I feel lucky and privileged that I am able to breastfeed my babies. Some women breastfeed directly from the tap, others pump and give bottles. Some seek out donor milk and others do formula. Whatever works best for you and your family, I’m all for it.

Personally, I love the amazing benefits of breastmilk as well as the bonding it affords me with my littles. I never understood why some people are against babies falling asleep at the breast. Did you know that breastmilk contains tryptophan? Tryptophan is an amino acid, which is a part of serotonin…which eventually turns into melatonin…which induces sleep.* {See bottom of post for citations.}

TOTALLY MAKES SENSE why nursing makes baby sleepy! I consider it to be the most powerful tool in my “bag of tricks”.

Breastfeeding and bed sharing go hand in hand in our house.

I’m lucky Hubs is so understanding and on board with our parenting style (Attachment Parenting). It’s definitely not easy or for the faint of heart!

Case in point: I am currently in bed with a daughter on either side of me. I started off the bedtime routine by nursing both girls. Nugget was definitely ready for bed but needed a little extra one-on-one time. Peanut, on the other hand, had taken a little snooze in the car on the way home and was ready to party. Hubs took Peanut to the living room to play with her while I nursed and bounced Nugget on the yoga ball. After Nugget fell asleep, I snuck away and played with Peanut until she was sleepy. I then nursed her to sleep. An hour later, Nugget was up crying, so I brought sleeping Peanut to bed and nursed Nugget. At this point, Peanut had also woken up so I tandem nursed. Which brings me to now… 

I am exhausted. I feel like I’ve had a child on me for the past several hours.

But you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world. It sounds utterly cliché but it’s so true. They are only little once.

Hubs and I try our best to read our babies’ sleep cues. We don’t have a strict schedule. When they are sleepy, I try to nurse them ASAP. When nursing doesn’t put them to sleep, we go to Plan B (and C and D and E…)

Other Ways to Put a Baby to Sleep (Besides Nursing)

    • Rocking in a rocking chair or glider
    • Bouncing on a yoga ball——–> I love this one:

C9 Champion® Fitness Ball & Pump

  • Walking/pacing 
  • Walking while bouncing
  • Babywearing———-> These are my favorite carriers:

LILLEbaby Complete Airflow Carrier

 

Ergobaby 360 All Carry Positions

 

  • Driving around in car
  • Pushing in stroller
  • Singing (sometimes the same song repeatedly!)
  • Shushing
  • Patting baby’s bottom
  • Stroking baby’s head
  • A combo of the above

For a play by play, head on over to How to Put a Baby to Sleep in 27 Easy Steps.

Other Ways to Put a Toddler to Sleep

  • See other ways to put baby to sleep
  • Lie down in bed
  • Snuggle with mom or dad in bed
  • Watch a video

I have yet to have Nugget snuggle with me in bed (without nursing) and just fall asleep (but she will resettle for Hubs in the middle of the night). She also has yet to just lie down in bed and go to sleep. (I feel like this is totally normal and will be something she’ll do in the future.) I’m not proud of the watching videos to sleep but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures!

We are in the thick of 2 under 2 with completely different sleep situations.

It’s definitely tough and there are nights when Peanut won’t settle or Nugget has so much energy and won’t fall asleep for ages. There have been times when I felt like crying or screaming or running away. Hubs has been an integral part of this process and I couldn’t do it without him. One thing (of many) we are in complete agreement on:

We will always attend to our children’s needs.

For us, this means picking up and loving on our babies when they cry. No matter the time or place. After all, babies communicate by crying! It would never sit well with me to leave my child to cry, be it for a few minutes or until extinction. Even if that meant the baby would “sleep through the night” from that point forward or fall asleep within 5 minutes of being put down. It tears my heart out to hear my babies crying. 

In my humble opinion, the process of going to sleep should be peaceful and gentle. Babies will awaken at night and cry out—and that’s ok! They’re supposed to. They’ll sleep on their own and through the night when they are good and ready. Until then, Hubs and l will be there to nurse, rock, shush, sing, and bounce them to their hearts’ content.

That sits well with me.

 

So, Mama (or Dada) Who Won’t Sleep Train Her Baby…

I see you. And I applaud you. I know the nights are long and sometimes difficult. It’s hard being sleep deprived while getting up in the middle of the night to tend to baby. But you are doing an amazing job! May your coffee be strong and your patience be aplenty! Keep on keeping on. Know that you are providing comfort and love for your baby, which, in my book, is absolutely priceless.

 

Sending you sleepy dust,

Did any of this post resonate with you? If so, please share!

To the Mama Who Won't Sleep Train Her Baby

 

*Citations

Cubero J, Valero V, Sánchez J, Rivero M, Parvez H, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C. (2005, December 26). The circadian rhythm of tryptophan in breast milk affects the rhythms of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin and sleep in newborn [Web log post]. Retrieved February 17, 2019,from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ 16380706

Lewis, T (2013, November 26). Thanksgiving Myth Busted: Eating Turkey Won’t Make You Sleepy [Web log post]. Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://www.livescience.com/41543-thanksgiving-myth-busted-eating-turkey-won-t-make-you-sleepy.html.

 

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