I sleep trained my baby in secret, because I was afraid of Mum shamers...
Sleep training from 4 months worked brilliantly for my baby, we set up a nap routine, a bed time routine, and I taught him to self settle.
I was a happier parent, I needed to know what was happening each day, I craved sleep, and I need my baby to sleep so I could sleep.
He was happy and healthy, his plunket nurse cooed over how happy and smiley he was, my mother in law commented about how happy and smiley he was, and even my coffee group friends loved his infectious smiley nature.
But they all quickly frowned upon me when I mentioned sleep training.
When I was pregnant my antenatal teacher talked about sleep cues, and that instinct would allow me to nurture my baby to sleep.
They showed us how to use a baby carrier, and how to breastfeed lying down to encourage sleep, but they didn't tell me how to actually get my baby to sleep, and all the extra feeds I used to help get off to sleep made him gassy, unhappy and colicky in the first 12 weeks.
I quickly realized this wasn't for me.
Parenting was a blur of anxiety and exhaustion.
I couldn't make it through the day without crying, and my baby was miserable.
He wasn't sleeping well, couldn't settle to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time, and was waking almost hourly at night.
I called Emma when Max was 16 weeks old, and she explained that I was feeding so frequently I was interpreting Max's tired cues as hunger cues. He was wanting to suck, because he wanted to go to sleep.
He was over tired, and I was over whelmed.
Emma created a routine for us to follow, which was both fluid and fixed.
Fluid in that if Max was hungry before a feed was "due" I fed him.
But fixed in that if he didn't show any tired signs, he was still going down for his nap. Turns out tired signs can be hard to spot, easy to misinterpret, and some times confusing for tired first time mums!
I started to realize that my boy was crying from exhaustion not just hunger, and sometimes me feeding him when he was tired was contributing to his tummy hurting, and blocking him from actually being able to sleep.
Elated with what I was learning I tried to share at my Mum's group, but the other mothers looked down at me, and said schedules and routines would damage my baby.
Already I could see this wasn't true as he was so much happier and well rested within just a week of his new routine.
When I started working on self settling I wasn't in the mood to be shamed, instead I chose to remain silent. My confidence was growing, and I actually didn't need anyone else's opinion.
I was the happiest I had been since my son was born, and I didn't need those mum shamers bringing me down, or making me doubt myself.
At 6 months old I joined a new playgroup and met a new group of mothers who had older children as well as babies, and these mothers seemed a lot more open to what I was doing.
They had been around the block, and had some experience with sleep deprivation, and sleep training. I felt no shame sharing my experience with them.
I had found my people!
My mother in law still doesn't know the secret to her grandsons amazing sleep, and happy nature, but that's OK.
Feeling such a huge pressure from a group of Mum shamers was part of why I didn't discuss sleep training with them. I was a new mum, in a vulnerable state doing the best for my baby, I didn't need to be made to feel like a bad mum.
Finding my people was such a relief.....if you feel alone in your mother's circle, keep looking!
Your people are out there too.
Anonymous.................because I still don't like exposing myself to mum shamers!
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