Let go of guilt while trying to get your baby to sleep

Getting your infant, toddler, or even preschooler to sleep through the night is tricky at best.

If you are one of the lucky ones, you may have an “easy” sleeper. You know, the one that seems content after some rocking, singing, and nursing. Things just flow and voila, you actually have a baby that, “sleeps like a baby” so to speak.

However, for many of us, “sleep like a baby” is quite a misnomer because we often struggle to find that magic method that will reliably guarantee us a solid night of sleep. And, for those of us burning the midnight oil, pacing a dark house with a crying bundle cradled in our arms, there are a plethora of strategies thrown our way.

Let your baby cry it out. Don’t let your baby cry it out. Sleep with your baby. Don’t sleep with your baby. Try this sleep training method. No, that one is no good. You must Ferberize. Ferberizing is cruel. Rocking your baby to sleep will set him up for life long sleep problems. Letting your baby cry it out is psychologically damaging to them. If you let your baby sleep in your bed, she will never leave.

Sound familiar?

It’s no wonder we end up confused and no matter which direction we decide to take … guess what? We feel guilty. Guilty because something negative has been said about the sleep direction we have decided to take.

It’s time to let go of the guilt. You are not psychologically damaging your child by letting them cry it out. You are not setting up your child for life long sleep problems by rocking him to sleep. Your happy little co-sleeper will not be in your bed forever.

It’s time to stop perpetuating all these terrible myths. It’s time to stop perpetuating the guilt.

There are only two things I care about when it comes to sleep and babies. The first is that both the baby and her parents end up getting the sleep they need. The second is that they do so safely.

So whether you’ve struck gold following a particular sleep training method or have decided co-sleeping is the way to go, just remember to put safety at the forefront. Whether your baby sleeps in a crib, a bedside co-sleeper, or in bed with you, take the time to review these safe sleep guidelines so you can all rest easier.

As for the negative background chatter? I say let it go. Only you know what is right for you and your family. Follow your instincts. Do what you know is best for your baby and for yourself.

Melissa Arca is a pediatrician who blogs at Confessions of a Dr. Mom.

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