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Sleeping Training: I’m Shocked!

by Sarah on August 30th, 2010

I’ve just been paging through a book which a friend gave me, called “Sleep – Helping your child to sleep through the night”. It’s written by Siobahn Stirling, and seems to be part of the “Practical Parenting” range. I flipped to the section about training methods. There are five, and the first is called “Cold Turkey”.

Here’s what they have to say, “Simply put your child to bed and leave her to get on with it! Once you have said your goodnight, you do not go back to her. Whether you have a newborn or older child, you can expect her to cry when you leave her.” The Possible Pitfalls is where it gets really good: “Babies and small children can ‘breath hold’ in temper. However, they only do this if there is an audience, and if you don’t go back in to your baby, there won’t be one. If she does hold her breath, she may possibly faint, but this always causes breathing to resume and your child will be back to normal within a few seconds”. I’m SPEECHLESS.

The second pitfall: “Your child may scream herself sick.If this happens, go in armed with two towels – one to wipe up the vomit, the other to put over the damp patch. Clear it up wordlessly, without looking at her. Say your normal goodnight phrase, and leave the room”. I had such a violent reaction to this paragraph when I read it the first time, I thought I might vomit myself.

Has the world gone entirely mad? Leave your baby to scream so much that they either PASS OUT or VOMIT. But wait, be sure not to say a word when you go in to clean up the mess. You’ve possibly just destroyed your child’s trust in you, in mankind, in the universe, but you can’t say a word to console them. I’m truly SHOCKED.

I understand that sleepless nights could lead to desperate measures, but come on, where have people’s hearts gone? Surely leaving your child to scream alone in the dark pushes some button inside you. Hopefully a button labelled, “this is unnatural, this is cruel, this is teaching my child the wrong values”.

I know that this form of sleep training was big back in the day of Dr Sprock, but the fact that this sort of advice is still actually printed in books today makes me really sad. There are so many other ways to encourage your child to sleep, ways filled with love and compassion. Yes, they may take more time, they may be more challenging for the parent, but ultimately, you’ll be creating a child who believes in the value of communication, who trusts you, and who sees the world as a loving, beautiful place to have arrived in, not one that is scary, breathless and makes you want to vomit.

From → Sleeping

  • ajira

    OH!! This gets my back up too. I really just don’t get it. How is it okay? At all? I certainly wouldn’t like to be left in the dark, alone to cry until I passed out or vomited. Sounds awful.

  • ajira

    OH!! This gets my back up too. I really just don’t get it. How is it okay? At all? I certainly wouldn’t like to be left in the dark, alone to cry until I passed out or vomited. Sounds awful.

  • Gauri Ma

    Yeah, that is pretty draconian, even for sleep training. Shocking, I agree. I can’t do it either. I just can’t do it. I have friends who have ‘ferberised’ their babies to great effect. A sleep-training consultant I met said she felt it was quite humane ’cause the babies still connect with the parents fully in the morning, they engage in eye-contact and play as normal (whereas kids whose parents work, often don’t look them in the eye for 30 minutes or more when they get back – they know how to show protest). I thought it was quite a convincing argument. My mind found peace with it… by my heart still ain’t having none of it :p

  • erinmidwife

    These books and “programs” are cult-like in some circles. have to actively dissuade many of my clients to STOP reading them. As a midwife i have seen the damage to babies first hand when it comes to nursing…

    I have to work very hard to convince some clients that it is not in their child’s best interest, physically or emotionally. Babies are born with almost their entire stock of brain cells. They form the rest in the first few months of life, as well as create the web of synapses that wire their brains. their brains require calories, carbs, proteins and fats to meet their growth potential. Scheduled feeding and limiting a baby’s access to food = limiting a baby’s brain growth. when parents don’t seem to make the connection between and babywise and emotional trauma, a light bulb sometimes goes off when they recognize they are harming their child’s neurological development.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for that interesting info, Erin. Makes absolute sense to me. I a lot
    of people will respond better to that sort of information, like you say,
    rather than believing that their actions can be harming their child’s
    emotional status – nevermind their spiritual wellbeing too!

    I have a friend who has her 5 day old baby in a routine already, and another
    who used the cry-it-out method on her six week old. I’m really battling to
    understand friends like this, when I feel so strongly against what they’re
    doing. They justify their actions though, arguing that they’ve read these
    children are more emotionally balanced than children who are raised along
    the lines of ‘attachment principles”. An argument I just don’t think I can
    take on without becoming too emotional.


  • Anonymous

    So awful. I’m really hoping that more and more people will start to use their hearts again, instead of their heads, it’s the only way that crazy methods like these will be put to rest.

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