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Is sleep training ok from trauma & attachment perspective?
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lucky14




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 1:25 pm
amother [ Seashell ] wrote:
People knowledgeable about trauma and attachment will tell you it’s harmful (Dr Gabor Mate, Dr Vanessa Lapointe, many psychologists and gentle parenting coach types).
People who are into evidence based medicine and research will tell you the research does not back that up (Professor Emily Oster, more old-school doctors).
It’s a difficult topic. To me, intuitively it feels wrong to let my baby cry, it also feels wrong for the baby and I to be deeply sleep-deprived. I do not have the lifestyle or personality to work around the baby’s schedule and preferences the way some parenting experts encourage. I’ve sleep trained both my children with mixed feelings but ultimately knew I could not manage otherwise.
You have to do what feels right for you.

ETA: you’re going to get a lot of vehement opinions from both sides of the argument. I find that people tend to vilify the other side and really dig in their heels about whatever choice they made because it was so difficult to do, whether that was sleep-training or enduring endless fatigue. Do your research, make your decision, and feel confident that only you can make the right choice for you and your family. Shut the rest out.



You wrote this out so well and I agree with it all. I have nothing else to add just wanted to say that this is everything I wanted to say but worded so very well!
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amother




Silver
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 1:26 pm
I'm a mother of twins. My twins were sleeping in a crib for most of the night by the time they were 9 months, and without "sleep training." Yes I taught them to go to sleep, but not by leaving them in their cribs and walking away. By watching them for signs of tiredness, nursing them until they were almost-but-not-quite-asleep, and putting them into their cribs and verbally soothing them and stroking them.

My latest baby is still in my bed over 1 year old. Totally different personality. He has cried himself to sleep a handful of times (when I was in the bathroom or with another child and couldn't come back for him right away) but in general if he cries he knows I will come and help him.

His sleep has lately gotten much better, in this case thanks to blackout curtains. Turns out that a mostly dark room is not enough for him, he needs it completely dark. Who knew?

ETA: Baby in my bed does not equal no sleep. I nurse in my sleep. I rarely wake up fully from nursing a sleepy baby.
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amother




Forsythia
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 1:32 pm
lucky14 wrote:
You wrote this out so well and I agree with it all. I have nothing else to add just wanted to say that this is everything I wanted to say but worded so very well!


Same!
This was clear and non-judgemental.
I also was hesitant to sleep train, but not able to do without it, although now that I did it I don't feel guilty at all. My kids are bH healthy, happy, and well adjusted and still go to sleep sooo nicely. I marvel that I put my toddler in for a nap and she lies down, tells me good night, and goes to sleep
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amother




Eggshell
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 1:36 pm
HappyMom321 wrote:
Exactly the opposite of this. Babies do NOT know how to sleep - it's a skill you need to help them learn, just like eating solids or walking. They can learn it, but they need you to guide them. When I hear of 1 or 2 year olds who still sleep in Mommy's bed or wake up at night, I feel bad for the child. I'm not judging if you feel that it's right and that's how you want the attachment to form, but if you're exhausted and at the end of your rope, just know that training your child to sleep is healthy for both you and the child! There is NO reason for a child to be waking up at night when they're already toddlers (obviously if they are healthy).
It doesn't teach them that you aren't responding - they are crying because they are uncomfortable (tired) and literally don't know how to put themselves to sleep. Once they learn, you can put them down in the crib and they just go to sleep. Your brain plays all sorts of tricks on you, telling you they will feel abandoned, but the research does not support that. I spoke to both pediatricians and pediatric psychologists about this before I started. They all said it doesn't cause any damage and good sleep is the best thing for your child (and for you!). There are methods without any crying, but they don't work as quickly or as well.

Listen - there is so much out there about sleep training. I personally dislike 12 hours by 12 weeks- it is very harsh, and schedules feedings as well as sleeping, the whole day. I like feeding on demand, plus I would never start training as early as 12 weeks.
THAT BEING SAID - I learned the hard way with my first child. I trained starting at 4 months, and it took until 6 months. With my next baby I started forming good habits from a month old, and it's incredible - now that she's old enough for an actual method, I barely have any training to do. As someone mentioned, Taking Cara Babies is an amazing program.
And you don't have to do the full extinction method (although it works quickest, and when I did my research I saw that there is no data to say it causes any issues. Actually, children who are sleep trained sleep better later on in life). The main goal is to teach a child to put him/herself to sleep without needing to be rocked, etc.

I let my baby cry for 3-5 minutes before going in to give her her paci and calm her down (NOT picking her up), and then do it all again. If you are consistent, it will work rather quickly. If not, you will just confuse the baby!!

Also, don't confuse sleep training with sleeping through the night. FIRST you teach the baby to be able to be put into his/her bed and fall asleep without help. Eventually, you can deal with night feeds.

A life changing thing I learned about is wake hours. Basically, at every age there is a certain amount of time baby can be awake and stimulated. After that, he/she needs a nap. Google it - it's shorter than you think!! And if you put your baby to bed at the right time, it will be much easier. AN OVERTIRED BABY CAN'T SLEEP!! So don't think keeping him/her up will be better. With my second I started pushing her bedtime earlier much sooner, and it was amazing. By 3 months she was going to bed at 8pm, and soon after that by 7pm. Then you get your evenings (and your sanity) back.

In the end of the day, you are going to hear both sides, and people feel very strongly either way. But just know that if you do choose to train there are a ton of different options out there, and I personally feel like sleep training was NOT too harsh on my children (especially if you start establishing good habits early on) and helped make my life normal again.
Also, I saw with both kids: once they started sleeping better, their personalities literally got happier! It was incredible to see such evidence. Kids need proper sleep, and it is a gift for you to teach them how to do it. It isn't something that is just selfish for the parents.

But for sure do your own research and make your decisions. It depends how desperate you are too Wink And be confident with whatever you choose to do! Also, different babies respond better to different things. If you do go with sleep training, my opinion is that it is really hard to do, but sooo worth it. Know that either way you aren't going to severely mess up your child... If either option was that bad, no one would be doing it.
Good luck!!

You write a lot of interesting and informative points, although I have a different perspective as my parenting is really attachment based.

One common fallacy that “pro sleep training moms” always say is that babies who sleep train sleep better long term. With this I beg to differ, all my kids who I co slept with and demand fed and went into them at a year or later in middle of the night, are bh amazing sleepers. Once they naturally started sleeping through the night they slept 12 hours straight for years. This isn’t one child but bh a large family of kids. More then that, I would say bedtime long term isn’t a battle even in their toddler/preschool/ elementary school years as sleep was always a positive thing.

I do agree with you that encouraging good habits from infancy and being very cognizant of wake time limits is very beneficial to ones baby and I put my infants to sleep very early in the night ( approximately 7 pm) in a dark room so they get the sleep they need and are set up for success in terms of routines etc. I always go in when they are crying and don’t hesitate to nurse them at all when they are babies.

At the same time babies biologically don’t need to be “trained” to sleep they aren’t dogs that need to be trained lol. Sometimes a mom needs their sleep so they must “train” a baby but it’s really not something that babies were created to do. ( sleep through the night at a young age) . As they become more biologically ready and are older you can use gentle sleep methods to help them sleep longer.
Good luck!
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amother




Eggshell
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 1:47 pm
HappyMom321 wrote:
Exactly the opposite of this. Babies do NOT know how to sleep - it's a skill you need to help them learn, just like eating solids or walking. They can learn it, but they need you to guide them. When I hear of 1 or 2 year olds who still sleep in Mommy's bed or wake up at night, I feel bad for the child. I'm not judging if you feel that it's right and that's how you want the attachment to form, but if you're exhausted and at the end of your rope, just know that training your child to sleep is healthy for both you and the child! There is NO reason for a child to be waking up at night when they're already toddlers (obviously if they are healthy).
It doesn't teach them that you aren't responding - they are crying because they are uncomfortable (tired) and literally don't know how to put themselves to sleep. Once they learn, you can put them down in the crib and they just go to sleep. Your brain plays all sorts of tricks on you, telling you they will feel abandoned, but the research does not support that. I spoke to both pediatricians and pediatric psychologists about this before I started. They all said it doesn't cause any damage and good sleep is the best thing for your child (and for you!). There are methods without any crying, but they don't work as quickly or as well.

Listen - there is so much out there about sleep training. I personally dislike 12 hours by 12 weeks- it is very harsh, and schedules feedings as well as sleeping, the whole day. I like feeding on demand, plus I would never start training as early as 12 weeks.
THAT BEING SAID - I learned the hard way with my first child. I trained starting at 4 months, and it took until 6 months. With my next baby I started forming good habits from a month old, and it's incredible - now that she's old enough for an actual method, I barely have any training to do. As someone mentioned, Taking Cara Babies is an amazing program.
And you don't have to do the full extinction method (although it works quickest, and when I did my research I saw that there is no data to say it causes any issues. Actually, children who are sleep trained sleep better later on in life). The main goal is to teach a child to put him/herself to sleep without needing to be rocked, etc.

I let my baby cry for 3-5 minutes before going in to give her her paci and calm her down (NOT picking her up), and then do it all again. If you are consistent, it will work rather quickly. If not, you will just confuse the baby!!

Also, don't confuse sleep training with sleeping through the night. FIRST you teach the baby to be able to be put into his/her bed and fall asleep without help. Eventually, you can deal with night feeds.

A life changing thing I learned about is wake hours. Basically, at every age there is a certain amount of time baby can be awake and stimulated. After that, he/she needs a nap. Google it - it's shorter than you think!! And if you put your baby to bed at the right time, it will be much easier. AN OVERTIRED BABY CAN'T SLEEP!! So don't think keeping him/her up will be better. With my second I started pushing her bedtime earlier much sooner, and it was amazing. By 3 months she was going to bed at 8pm, and soon after that by 7pm. Then you get your evenings (and your sanity) back.

In the end of the day, you are going to hear both sides, and people feel very strongly either way. But just know that if you do choose to train there are a ton of different options out there, and I personally feel like sleep training was NOT too harsh on my children (especially if you start establishing good habits early on) and helped make my life normal again.
Also, I saw with both kids: once they started sleeping better, their personalities literally got happier! It was incredible to see such evidence. Kids need proper sleep, and it is a gift for you to teach them how to do it. It isn't something that is just selfish for the parents.

But for sure do your own research and make your decisions. It depends how desperate you are too Wink And be confident with whatever you choose to do! Also, different babies respond better to different things. If you do go with sleep training, my opinion is that it is really hard to do, but sooo worth it. Know that either way you aren't going to severely mess up your child... If either option was that bad, no one would be doing it.
Good luck!!

I see that you started training your baby from 4 months. I just wanted to add that that is very young to allow a baby to cry even for “just” 3-5 minutes. It’s very difficult for baby to not be responded to immediately especially at that vulnerable age. The past we don’t look back on and I’m sure your baby is completely fine, but even people who are pro CIO will tell you never before 6 months. Full time extinction although as you are saying it “ works fast ” is really harmful from trauma and attachment perspective.
Starting gentle routines and creating a soothing night environment is something you can begin from as early as 1-2 months though.
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HappyMom321




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 1:47 pm
amother [ Eggshell ] wrote:
You write a lot of interesting and informative points, although I have a different perspective as my parenting is really attachment based.

One common fallacy that “pro sleep training moms” always say is that babies who sleep train sleep better long term. With this I beg to differ, all my kids who I co slept with and demand fed and went into them at a year or later in middle of the night, are bh amazing sleepers. Once they naturally started sleeping through the night they slept 12 hours straight for years. This isn’t one child but bh a large family of kids. More then that, I would say bedtime long term isn’t a battle even in their toddler/preschool/ elementary school years as sleep was always a positive thing.

I do agree with you that encouraging good habits from infancy and being very cognizant of wake time limits is very beneficial to ones baby and I put my infants to sleep very early in the night ( approximately 7 pm) in a dark room so they get the sleep they need and are set up for success in terms of routines etc. I always go in when they are crying and don’t hesitate to nurse them at all when they are babies.

At the same time babies biologically don’t need to be “trained” to sleep they aren’t dogs that need to be trained lol. Some times a mom needs their sleep so they must “train” a baby but it’s really not something that babies were created to do. ( sleep through the night at a young age) . As they become more biologically ready and are older you can use gentle sleep methods to help them sleep longer.
Good luck!


I do agree with your perspective, and thanks for being so respectful about it!
As I said, babies that are "trained" do not necessarily sleep through the night. People get confused with that, I think.. First I train my babies to have good habits and fall asleep on their own.
I still go at night to nurse them! I definitely am pro feeding on demand. But at around 6 or 7 months I start weaning the night feedings. At that point it is definitely healthy and normal for a baby to sleep 11-12 hrs in a night.
Also,some people's kids really don't sleep as well as it sounds like yours bH do! I think you have to tailor the "severity" of your training approach to the specific child - it's not one size fits all. It also depends on how many bad habits the baby has picked up, and how crazy you're going Wink
But I 100% agree that a baby is not biologically ready to be fully trained at 12 weeks. It's always a good idea anyway to check with your pediatrician before cutting out the night feeds (especially for a first baby). I do still think that a baby has to be trained to have proper sleeping habits though, whatever that training looks like.

But really whatever you do is best - you're the mom and you get to make these decisions!
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HappyMom321




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 1:53 pm
amother [ Eggshell ] wrote:
I see that you started training your baby from 4 months. I just wanted to add that that is very young to allow a baby to cry even for “just” 3-5 minutes. It’s very difficult for baby to not be responded to immediately especially at that vulnerable age. The past we don’t look back on and I’m sure your baby is completely fine, but even people who are pro CIO will tell you never before 6 months. Full time extinction although as you are saying it “ works fast ” is really harmful from trauma and attachment perspective.
Starting gentle routines and creating a soothing night environment is something you can begin from as early as 1-2 months though.


I was told by both a well known child psychologist and our pediatrician that I could start then, but with my second I did not start that early. As I said, it didn't "work" for a while and I think it's because she wasn't ready yet.
I did not do full extinction method, but that also has conflicting opinions and data on if it causes trauma or not. I was told (again, by very reputable sources) that it does not and is in fact the least confusing for your child.
Taking Cara Babies has one program for under 5 months (more about habits, less about crying) and one for over. She is excellent
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amother




Eggshell
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 1:58 pm
HappyMom321 wrote:
I do agree with your perspective, and thanks for being so respectful about it!
As I said, babies that are "trained" do not necessarily sleep through the night. People get confused with that, I think.. First I train my babies to have good habits and fall asleep on their own.
I still go at night to nurse them! I definitely am pro feeding on demand. But at around 6 or 7 months I start weaning the night feedings. At that point it is definitely healthy and normal for a baby to sleep 11-12 hrs in a night.
Also,some people's kids really don't sleep as well as it sounds like yours bH do! I think you have to tailor the "severity" of your training approach to the specific child - it's not one size fits all. It also depends on how many bad habits the baby has picked up, and how crazy you're going Wink
But I 100% agree that a baby is not biologically ready to be fully trained at 12 weeks. It's always a good idea anyway to check with your pediatrician before cutting out the night feeds (especially for a first baby). I do still think that a baby has to be trained to have proper sleeping habits though, whatever that training looks like.

But really whatever you do is best - you're the mom and you get to make these decisions!

Thanks for being so respectful as well!
I very much appreciate the fact that even though you are pro sleep training you didn’t wean at the same time. It’s very unusual to find a mom who understands the importance of demand feeding with your mindset of sleep training and I give you a lot of credit!
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amother




Eggshell
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 2:03 pm
HappyMom321 wrote:
I was told by both a well known child psychologist and our pediatrician that I could start then, but with my second I did not start that early. As I said, it didn't "work" for a while and I think it's because she wasn't ready yet.
I did not do full extinction method, but that also has conflicting opinions and data on if it causes trauma or not. I was told (again, by very reputable sources) that it does not and is in fact the least confusing for your child.
Taking Cara Babies has one program for under 5 months (more about habits, less about crying) and one for over. She is excellent

It’s sounds like you really did your research.
It’s very hard with our first and I made plenty of mistakes myself as a mom.
I just want to say that unfortunately most pediatricians aren’t current with the latest research with sleep training and understanding attachment.
I also find that “old school” psychologists who promote CIO and full extinction as best, are I’m sure very well intentioned but once again are really not up to date at all. There is so much more current information that allows us to understand the effects of trauma on infants and the importance of attachment in terms of long term emotional health for the child.
May all your children give you much nachas and joy!
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HappyMom321




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 2:06 pm
amother [ Eggshell ] wrote:
Thanks for being so respectful as well!
I very much appreciate the fact that even though you are pro sleep training you didn’t wean at the same time. It’s very unusual to find a mom who understands the importance of demand feeding with your mindset of sleep training and I give you a lot of credit!


Thanks 😊
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HappyMom321




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 2:11 pm
amother [ Eggshell ] wrote:
It’s sounds like you really did your research.
It’s very hard with our first and I made plenty of mistakes myself as a mom.
I just want to say that unfortunately most pediatricians aren’t current with the latest research with sleep training and understanding attachment.
I also find that “old school” psychologists who promote CIO and full extinction as best, are I’m sure very well intentioned but once again are really not up to date at all. There is so much more current information that allows us to understand the effects of trauma on infants and the importance of attachment in terms of long term emotional health for the child.
May all your children give you much nachas and joy!


The fact that you're being so non-judgemental is really making me listen to what you're saying, and not just get defensive Wink Doesn't always happen like that on a forum! I'm going to look into this some more. But I still think a hybrid approach of creating good habits from 1 or 2 months old, knowing about wake windows, keeping early bedtimes with an established bedtime routine, and then eventually doing a little training to teach them to fall asleep on their own is good to know about as an option.
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amother




OP
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 2:16 pm
amother [ Silver ] wrote:
I'm a mother of twins. My twins were sleeping in a crib for most of the night by the time they were 9 months, and without "sleep training." Yes I taught them to go to sleep, but not by leaving them in their cribs and walking away. By watching them for signs of tiredness, nursing them until they were almost-but-not-quite-asleep, and putting them into their cribs and verbally soothing them and stroking them.

My latest baby is still in my bed over 1 year old. Totally different personality. He has cried himself to sleep a handful of times (when I was in the bathroom or with another child and couldn't come back for him right away) but in general if he cries he knows I will come and help him.

His sleep has lately gotten much better, in this case thanks to blackout curtains. Turns out that a mostly dark room is not enough for him, he needs it completely dark. Who knew?

ETA: Baby in my bed does not equal no sleep. I nurse in my sleep. I rarely wake up fully from nursing a sleepy baby.


can you tell me more of how you did it with your twins? What happened when they woke up during the nights? did you limit feeds?
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amother




OP
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 2:21 pm
amother [ Eggshell ] wrote:
It’s sounds like you really did your research.
It’s very hard with our first and I made plenty of mistakes myself as a mom.
I just want to say that unfortunately most pediatricians aren’t current with the latest research with sleep training and understanding attachment.
I also find that “old school” psychologists who promote CIO and full extinction as best, are I’m sure very well intentioned but once again are really not up to date at all. There is so much more current information that allows us to understand the effects of trauma on infants and the importance of attachment in terms of long term emotional health for the child.
May all your children give you much nachas and joy!


Can you point me to the more current research on this as it relates to trauma and attachment?
Just trying to learn more..
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amother




Seashell
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 2:25 pm
This is the nicest thread on sleep training I’ve seen on here Smile it’s a lot easier to discuss and share our views when we assume the best of each other.

I agree with HappyMom321: wake windows are super important. There is a lot you can learn from the “sleep training manual” even if you don’t actually follow the full method, that will help your child sleep better. And sleep training doesn’t need to come with weaning. I continued nursing my kids at night until I was able to cut out all the feeds gradually.

A note on research: it seems like there’s a lack of conclusive research on whether sleep training causes trauma for the baby, which is why so many doctors continue to say it’s fine. And technically it is, as they often base their opinions on hard statistics, and that information does not indicate long-term harm (see the book Cribsheet by Emily Oster for the nitty-gritty details). But considering what many psychologists know about other types of trauma and how the brain is wired, they consider it safe to assume that not addressing a baby’s cries causes some kind of trauma which can have lasting effects. Scientific research is very valuable but it doesn’t always tell us the full picture as it’s limited by what can be measurably proven, what sort of info can be considered reliable, the time that studies can take, etc.

I chose to sleep train knowing that there might be a trade-off, but it made the most sense for us in the big picture (in my case, untenable exhaustion on my end and babies that really put up a good fight).
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amother




Seashell
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 2:27 pm
amother [ OP ] wrote:
Can you point me to the more current research on this as it relates to trauma and attachment?
Just trying to learn more..


Two books with conflicting perspectives that bring research: Cribsheet by Emily Oster and Parenting Right from the Start by Dr Vanessa Lapointe.
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amother




Amaranthus
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 2:35 pm
Imagine if it was you: you are trapped in a pitch black prison, alone, tired, and desperately wanting someone to hold you and make your feel warm and safe. You are crying. And crying and crying. You are so sad you can't even speak the words. And no one comes. How do you feel?
Babies have feelings, even if they can't talk.
These Babies might not grow up and be able to tell you the trauma in words, but absolutely, crying it out leaves a mark on their trust and bond on their parents and the world.
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HappyMom321




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 2:47 pm
amother [ Amaranthus ] wrote:
Imagine if it was you: you are trapped in a pitch black prison, alone, tired, and desperately wanting someone to hold you and make your feel warm and safe. You are crying. And crying and crying. You are so sad you can't even speak the words. And no one comes. How do you feel?
Babies have feelings, even if they can't talk.
These Babies might not grow up and be able to tell you the trauma in words, but absolutely, crying it out leaves a mark on their trust and bond on their parents and the world.


More like this:

You are very uncomfortable because you are soo tired but don't know how to fall asleep. So you cry because that's literally the only way you communicate. (They aren't "too sad to speak words"! They literally don't speak! The only way they can communicate is through crying. It doesn't necessarily mean they're being traumatized.) Once you realize no one is around (it's worse if the baby hears you - it's different if they just think you aren't there) you realize you'll have to figure this out on your own, and you do. From now on, instead of crying until someone comes (over and over, and only being able to fall asleep in someone's arms which means you get confused where you are between sleep cycles, feel unsafe, and wake up again...) you have the skill to close your eyes and fall asleep happily. You are well rested and much happier during the day and you can even transfer the skills to naps.
Babies were in dark in the womb too.. It doesn't bother them. As a matter of fact, using room darkening shades and a sound machine helps immensely. A swaddle helps too. Babies like to feel warm and dark.
Please don't cause fears - moms who do choose to sleep train already feel guilt and their minds tell them they're hurting their babies, but they have made the decision that this is the best choice for them.
We are having a logical, mature conversation here and whichever choice you make is legitimate. This has no place
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amother




Eggshell
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 7:08 pm
HappyMom321 wrote:
The fact that you're being so non-judgemental is really making me listen to what you're saying, and not just get defensive Wink Doesn't always happen like that on a forum! I'm going to look into this some more. But I still think a hybrid approach of creating good habits from 1 or 2 months old, knowing about wake windows, keeping early bedtimes with an established bedtime routine, and then eventually doing a little training to teach them to fall asleep on their own is good to know about as an option.

You are very sweet and sound like a really good mother!
I agree with all that you said but I would ideally exchange the “little training” aspect to be gently done without crying.
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amother




Eggshell
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 7:12 pm
amother [ OP ] wrote:
Can you point me to the more current research on this as it relates to trauma and attachment?
Just trying to learn more..

Sure, here is an article about “Ferberizing”- which is essentially what’s being advocated - to let a baby cry for a a few minutes at a time with the goal of sleep training.

This article is taken from Aha Parenting by Dr. Laura Markham who is a well renowned psychologist figure in parenting etc; She is an excellent resource in general for raising children and I personally have learned so much from her!


The Case Against Ferber Sleep Training
7 min read • Early TeenPreschoolersSchool AgeTweens Routines
By: Dr. Laura Markham

I'll admit up front that I'm biased against Ferberizing, or Ferbering, as it is sometimes called. As a psychologist, I follow the research, which has convinced me that babies do better if they are held when they cry.


I understand how desperate a parent can be to get a child to sleep, and I have many good friends who have used the Ferber method with their babies. But I've found that there are kinder, gentler ways to teach babies to put themselves to sleep. And with all due respect, Richard Ferber is trained in physical health, not mental health. He readily admits that he is not trained in infant psychology.

Most interesting, Ferber now says in interviews that he regrets some of the advice he's given. He's been quoted as saying that he feels badly that child health professionals are encouraging parents to leave very young babies to cry, and that it's ok to co-sleep.

Here's how Ferberizing works:
You never start this process with a baby younger than three months. First, you let the baby cry for five minutes, then go in to reassure him verbally and by patting him. You don't pick him up. Then you leave, let him cry for another ten minutes, then go back to reassure him again. This time, you let him cry for fifteen minutes, then go back to reassure him. If the baby vomits, you clean him up (preferably without picking him up), but leave him in the crib and continue with the Ferberizing. Each time you leave, you wait longer to return.

With a very determined and resourceful baby, this crying can go on all night, but more usually the baby will become exhausted and fall asleep after a few hours. When he reawakens later in the night, the process is repeated. Often the next interval of crying is shorter, either because the baby has given up on the parent staying, or because he is exhausted. Sometimes it is longer, because the baby is re-energized (or an extremely determined person, who will someday accomplish great things by virtue of his strong will.) Usually, though, the crying diminishes on subsequent nights, as the baby learns not to expect the parent to stay with him.

While listening to their baby cry is hard on parents (not to mention the baby), most babies do eventually give up calling for their parents, and sleep. Because they do not yet talk, and live so completely in the moment, we do not hear from them the next morning how they felt about the experience.

However, even when parents are consistent, this approach does not work on all children. Some babies are still crying on the seventh night in a row. It is not uncommon for babies to get an ear infection in the middle of it (from the congestion caused by the crying); it is recommended that the Ferberizing be discontinued during the round of antibiotics that follows, to be re-initiated later. In addition, since any change in the routine (a brief illness, a trip to Grandma's) requires parents to respond to the baby's cries and then to repeat Ferberizing on another night, this process must be endured repeatedly by both baby and parents.

There are many studies claiming that repeatedly leaving babies to cry it out is a risk factor that predisposes kids to permanent brain changes and mental health issues in later life. However, advocates of Ferberizing say that because the parent keeps returning to the child's room, this offers the child reassurance that he has not been abandoned, and therefore keeps the experience from traumatizing the baby in the way that just letting them "cry it out" does.

The most recent claim that letting kids "cry it out" without reassurance may cause lasting damage is the finding that when a baby is left to cry alone, her cortisol level shoots up, indicating distress. That's not surprising. What is surprising is the research study* showing that on subsequent nights -- even when the baby is put into bed and does not cry -- her cortisol level still shoots up. Researchers interpret this as an indication that she is distressed. So why doesn't she cry? Because she has been "trained" -- she knows that no one will come.

*Middlemiss, Wendy et al. "Asynchrony of mother–infant hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis activity following extinction of infant crying responses induced during the transition to sleep." Early Human Development, Volume 88 , Issue 4, 227 - 232

Margot Sunderland's The Science of Parenting cites many studies that Sunderland claims support her view that repeated, sustained crying without adult reassurance causes babies' brains to develop less than optimally. My perusal of her sources showed some that probably should not be used to support her claim because they studied more extreme circumstances. But many of the studies seem credible.

Harvard Researchers who examined emotional learning, infant brain function and cultural differences claim that babies who are left to cry themselves to sleep suffer long-lasting damage to their nervous systems. The researchers claim that this makes these children more susceptible in later life to anxiety disorders, including panic attacks. The incidence of anxiety disorders has increased dramatically in recent years, but I personally don't think this is necessarily correlated to the practice of letting children "cry it out." My own view is that such a susceptibility could be caused by many aspects of childhood in 21st century North America and would need to be triggered by later trauma to play out.

So the question is whether the intermittent parental reassurance (but refusing to pick up the pleading baby) as specified by the Ferber method protects the child from the risks of just letting him "cry it out." Some anti-Ferber folks claim that the parent coming into the room and ignoring the baby's distress might actually increase the trauma by undermining the baby's trust in the parent.

It's hard to evaluate research in this area because there are so many other factors (many of which are arguably more important) in how babies develop. However, it is well-documented that sustained, uncomforted infant crying causes increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced oxygen levels, elevated cerebral blood pressure, depleted energy reserves and oxygen, and cardiac stress. Cortisol, adrenalin and other stress hormones skyrocket, which disrupts the immune system and digestion. It's a reasonable guess that if this is repeated over time, these babies would build a slightly different brain, more prone to "fight, flight or freeze."



We know that with adults, even one panic-inducing experience like a car accident or mugging that causes an extreme stress response can have ongoing stress effects for years. Since babies' heart rates and blood pressure soar during Ferbering, I don't think there can be any doubt that sleep training without parental comfort causes the experience to be indelibly etched on the memory, much as any panic situation can evoke strong feelings years later. That the memory is sensory and preverbal just gives it more power, as it cannot be adequately processed.



So there are a growing number of critics who see Ferberizing as barbaric. Their position can be summarized as follows:

1. Richard Ferber is a pediatrician with no psychological training.
While his approach works on some babies, it may not be simply "teaching them to sleep in their own beds”, as Ferber maintains. Other, less desirable lessons are unwittingly being taught.

2. Your baby is learning that you cannot be depended on,
and in fact will regularly desert her when she needs you most; that she is powerless to have an impact on her world in the ways that most matter to her; and that her world is a cold and lonely place. The most important developmental work your baby is doing right now is learning how to trust. Why sabotage that?

3. She learns that you will not help her when she needs it,
...by your coming back into the room and telling her to go to sleep. She concludes that she is not, in the deepest dark of the night, really lovable. She may even conclude that you are intentionally tormenting her.

4. It is possible that these early lessons will underlie her sense of self and worldview for the rest of her life.
Insomnia is rampant in our culture, and some Ferber critics argue that all those adults who can’t fall asleep without the TV on, or who wake up at night and can’t sleep, are Ferber casualties.

I should add that I've heard that there are families where the baby learns to fall asleep with a few minutes of crying and never needs to be retrained. In those cases, it seems to me a wonderful solution.

I should also acknowledge that I know many kids who were Ferbered as babies by their parents, who shall remain nameless because they are dear friends of mine. These kids all seem fine to me. So while I think Ferbering is a risk factor, it's hardly the worst thing you can do to your kids. Regular yelling because you're exhausted would be worse, in my view. And sleep deprivation definitely makes you a worse parent.

But Ferbering is a risk factor, and an avoidable one, so it's important for you to know there are other, gentler methods for teaching your baby to put herself to sleep. You can begin encouraging gentle sleep habits that make it more likely that your child will sleep at night even as early as three months; here's a whole article on how. You might also explore Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution, which is explained in more detail in Helping Your Baby Get to Sleep So You Can Too.

What about teaching an older baby
or toddler to sleep without the parent?
I think kids do fine, after the age of one year, IF the parent stays with the child while she's learning. It isn't crying that affects little ones negatively, or even disappointment, or sadness. What's bad for brain development is being left to cry uncomforted. So parents need to parent at night, just like they parent during the day. I also believe that that once the baby becomes verbal, the risks are greatly decreased, because she understands so much better what's happening. But it's always essential for the parent to stay in the room with the baby while the baby learns to put herself back to sleep. There's lots more on this on the page Teaching your toddler to put herself to sleep.
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amother




Eggshell
 

Post Thu, Oct 14 2021, 7:24 pm
HappyMom321 wrote:
More like this:

You are very uncomfortable because you are soo tired but don't know how to fall asleep. So you cry because that's literally the only way you communicate. (They aren't "too sad to speak words"! They literally don't speak! The only way they can communicate is through crying. It doesn't necessarily mean they're being traumatized.) Once you realize no one is around (it's worse if the baby hears you - it's different if they just think you aren't there) you realize you'll have to figure this out on your own, and you do. From now on, instead of crying until someone comes (over and over, and only being able to fall asleep in someone's arms which means you get confused where you are between sleep cycles, feel unsafe, and wake up again...) you have the skill to close your eyes and fall asleep happily. You are well rested and much happier during the day and you can even transfer the skills to naps.
Babies were in dark in the womb too.. It doesn't bother them. As a matter of fact, using room darkening shades and a sound machine helps immensely. A swaddle helps too. Babies like to feel warm and dark.
Please don't cause fears - moms who do choose to sleep train already feel guilt and their minds tell them they're hurting their babies, but they have made the decision that this is the best choice for them.
We are having a logical, mature conversation here and whichever choice you make is legitimate. This has no place


I hear you. One aspect that particularly bothers me about CIO is that many times in parenting over the years you will see that there were really valid reasons for a baby to cry that warranted immediate parental attention. ( Personally, I feel that all baby’s crying warrants immediate parental attention, even if it’s just for some comfort and cuddles!) But even if you don’t have that view point and instead feel that baby is tired and needs to go to sleep, there have been many times that I found a baby was crying for good reason.
1) a baby’s foot is stuck between the crib slats - shocking but actually just happened to my baby
2) The baby who never has a dirty diaper at night and is sitting in one.
3) The baby whose sippy cup leaked and now is all wet.
4) Of course, you have the baby who has an ear infection or other sickness that is just coming down with it at night.
This list is endless, but my point is when a parent engages in CIO they are turning off the natural maternal instinct to see what the problem is and a baby’s cry is their voice for help. There are so many times people do CIO and afterwards they realized there was a legitimate issue.
If one is able to avoid the crying route and stick to gentler sleep training they really doing a world of good for their child.
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