Everything that's wrong with trying to sleep train newborns

Aug 18, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. ET
Image: Zoonar RF/Zoonar/360/Getty Images

When you're expecting a baby, your sleep really isn't all that fabulous. This is particularly true near the end of your pregnancy when your belly beast makes it impossible to sleep for more than a couple hours before you need to pee. So of course, this must get better once your wee babe arrives, right? Well, nope. Newborn babies sleep all the time, except for when you're trying to sleep. Like at night.

I've seen an article floating around about a "new method" to sleep train your newborn. I was honestly shocked to discover that this was not a joke. The article highlights the work of two pediatricians who teach new moms and dads how to keep their babies from waking at night, you know, to be fed.

The basic premise is that parents can "teach" their infants to go four hours without food. Infants who have tiny stomachs and a biological need for nutrition. Infants who aren't interested in your sleep because they need food to live. Infants who, if forced to go further between feedings than they have a need for, may not gain weight well and be deprived nutritionally, and who won't be able to help their moms establish a good breast milk supply because they are not fed on demand. Infants who need to know someone is there so they can learn how to trust.

I've been there. I've had four babies, breastfed all on demand, and have been terribly sleep deprived. It's no fun. Yes, as the parent of a young baby, the quality of your life does go downhill for that bit of time. It can straight up suck. But this part of parenting is and should always be expected. You know that after the massive discomfort of pregnancy comes even more sleep deprivation. You know this.

The mother in the story told the reporter how hard it was to stretch those feedings out and how they'd go for a walk while their child wailed in despair. Do you know what that says? Let's distract our baby from a pressing biological need because it benefits us. Forget about helping a child self-regulate her own body and forget about tending to your newborn infant's needs for food and comfort. Just omg get them on a schedule already or you'll never sleep again.

I just can't deal with the fact that this is being touted as an amazing new method… it's garbage and should be treated as such.

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