I’ve been taking my daughter to baby groups since she was a few weeks old–they’re a great way for both of us to socialise and meet new people . . . but sometimes my group annoys me. There is an overwhelming obsession among new mums that pervades early parenthood: whether babies are sleeping through the night. These constant questions aren't only present in my baby group: colleagues at work, friends and family all love asking the same question. I have a confession to make: when asked if my daughter was sleeping through the night, I used to lie. A lot.
>Why? Because in most cases, telling the truth just wasn't worth it. Typically, the response that followed the truth was well-meaning but unwanted advice about how to get her to sleep through the night, most often involving some sort of “sleep training”. Keep in mind, I started receiving this advice when my little one was barely two months old, which really highlights the importance modern mums place on babies sleeping through from an early age (especially since researchers in favour of sleep training warn it should not be started before six months).
I don’t claim to be an expert on sleep training and I do believe that people have the right to parent the way they choose, but I do know, for me personally, that deliberately letting my baby cry, even for one minute, would break my heart. I can’t bear to hear her cry and not immediately comfort her. After all, I know I wouldn’t want to be left to cry if something was frightening or distressing me. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’d leave someone I disliked to cry if they were upset and I was the only one who could help them. So why, oh why, would I let the most precious person in my entire life cry, knowing that I had the power to soothe her? When you think about it like that it doesn’t seem very logical.
While there is no doubt research supporting both sides of the sleep training argument, I personally prefer to trust my instincts as a mum and as a human being when I say no to sleep training.
In case you’re wondering, after waking several times each night and being comforted back to sleep, my little girl started sleeping through at around 17 months, with no form of sleep training required. She still wakes from time to time, particularly if she’s teething, and that’s okay; I get an excuse to give her an extra cuddle. But I do believe that the security of knowing we were there for her when she needed us is what helped her to gain the confidence to sleep in the end.
So, should I have been more honest and said my baby was waking up to ten times per night at one point, and then proceeded to explain why I was against sleep training? Perhaps, but at the time I was too sleep deprived to think clearly. What parenting lies have you told?