When a client of mine e-mailed me recently concerned about what a co-worker told her about her baby I felt compelled to share my thoughts with you. This clients co-worker had told her that if she didn’t sleep train and let her baby cry it out, her baby would grow up to be spoiled. She alluded to the fact that by the time he was 7 or 8 years old, he’d be “running the show.”
The positive thing about this particular client was she had experience with two very different cultures, one being in the West and one in the East. In the West (where she lives now) she feels tremendous pressure to let her baby cry it out. In the East, in her experience, this is unheard of and co-sleeping until the age of three is the norm. Of course, as we know very well not everyone in each culture follows the norm and, given the number of clients I work with on a daily basis on no-cry methods, I would argue that there really is no “norm” in the West.
I believe most parents try to limit crying. I’m not sure what parent likes to hear their baby cry, though.
Will your baby be spoiled if you don’t sleep train her?
Obviously I feel passionately that sleep and it is very important to the point where there are hundreds of websites focused around it. Our website is complete with our 1-2-1 support to help you through it, however in all honestly this must be one of the more absurd things I’ve heard in a long time. Without meaning to offend anyone who feels strongly about sleep training, but there is a level of what is acceptable or not.
To put pressure on a parent to say that if you don’t sleep train a 6-month old he will be “running things” in a year, three years, or ten years is simply ridiculous!
Does that mean I believe you should give up and NOT sleep train? Not at all.
Work on it, YES, but don’t make it your life’s mission or sacrifice your beliefs because you believe your baby will turn out to be a terror if you don’t.
Your 6-month old is not meaningfully manipulating you. Your 8-month old twins are not intentionally conspiring to keep you awake at night (as much as it might feel that way). Your toddler is not planning his night-wakings to correspond with that work deadline the next day.
Our babies are simply not NOT sleeping on purpose. As much as my five year old says on the odd occasion that he is not tired and he doesn’t need to sleep, he still sleeps through the night every night (unless he has a nightmare or is ill). We have managed to successfully established healthy sleep habits when he was a young and worked hard to do so, but by no means did I think if we hadn’t he’d be a spoiled brat because at times some would definately say he had been.
However as the adult I just know he just needed the sleep!
So to me it makes more sense that there will be some non-sleep-trained babies that are spoiled and others who are not, just like there will be spoiled sleep trained babies and those who are not. Why? Because being spoiled comes from what we do with our children day in and day out. It might be related to sleep, it certainly wont help the situation, but it might not.
For example, as a baby grows into a toddler and she is allowed to come into your bed every night, she is learning one of two things:
1. She can get whatever she wants OR
2. She can go to Mummy and Daddy whenever she needs them and feel secure
Which is it?
One of the keys to navigating this crazy thing called parenting is to learn your baby’s temperament. All children need limits in order to feel secure, but they also need confidence and to know they can go to their parents when they need them just the same.
By far, I am by no means saying I am a perfect parent (oh how I wish I were!), but somehow I have made sure I have given my son the “ok” to come to me for a nightmare or when he loses his “blankie” when it falls down between the crack of the bed and wall, yet set enough limits to make sure he stays in his bed all night if he does not truly need me. This journey has not been a perfect road, nor a short road, and sometimes I feel like we never quite ever get off the road, but when I think back to the baby I once had, I know just how far he’s come. And, I would say he does have his “spoiled” moments, even though he is “sleep trained” and we are trying our best to teach him humility and appreciation, yet another parenting challenge that does not happen overnight.
If you need help establishing healthy sleep habits in your baby or toddler, please be sure to pick up your FREE 5 top sleep tips to help your baby sleep better. Using our unique approach and our practical tools success will happen. I can help you and your baby achieve this and have them sleeping through the night and nap better. So for those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, rather than spending hours reading books and websites for the answers to on most occasions not being able to find them when you need them, I would advise you to consider our 1-2-1baby and toddler sleep program, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Program which you can feel confident about doing!
Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.