I tend to answer the same questions over and over again from clients reaching out for sleep training help. The one I get most often is, “Will sleep training harm my baby’s attachment to me as their mother?” Even once a mother knows logically that her child has a sleep issue and that everyone would be better off if baby was able to get the sleep they so desperately needed, Moms can’t help but wonder about all those google searches that brought up the supposed harm sleep training causes to babies. Even after she’s explored the studies showing that sleep training is safe and highly beneficial to babies, the question still nags — will sleep training make my baby less attached to me?
While I can show you study after study proving the safety and efficacy of sleep training, and show you articles debunking the myth that crying for the purposes of sleep training harms babies, I want to share what some of the moms who have gone through The Baby Sleep Trainer Program + Support have said in our Facebook group:
“My attachment with my baby after sleep training is completely unchanged. I was SO worried about this. If anything, sleeping better — for them and me! — has made our relationship only stronger because their wake time is happy and well-rested.”
“My attachment with my baby after sleep training is soo much better! Sleep training made me a more informed and happier mama and gave our 5-month-old twins positive life-long sleep skills. Thank you for this incredible program and community of support – it has literally been life changing for us!”
“My attachment with my baby after sleep training is healthy! We spend more time playing and engaging and less time rocking/nursing to sleep/being fussy.”
“My attachment with my baby after sleep training is just as strong as before sleep training.”
Adding to their first-hand experience is my own personal experience working with children. I have spent thousands of hours working with well over 4,000 babies and moms. I have been in the trenches next to Mom working through the process of sleep training, and many mothers have come back to work with me a second, and even third time as they have more kids. I am now having the deep pleasure of seeing the babies I helped train turn into preschoolers and kindergartners, and I can tell you *unequivocally* that I have never seen a child suffer any type of permanent attachment issue to their mother after having been sleep trained. Nor do any of my clients report back on any review site that their child has suffered any type of attachment problem.
What many women assume is an attachment issue is actually just a child’s reaction to undergoing the process of sleep training. Yes, sleep training can be a stressful experience for both parents and kids, but lots of things are stressful. Traveling on an airplane, battling an ear infection, moving to a new house – even being put into their car seat – can all be stressful experiences for children. Just because something causes stress doesn’t mean it’s harming the child. Babies react to what’s happening around them just like we do — and sometimes during the throes of learning to fall asleep without any help from Mom (which is what sleep training truly is), a baby may seem more frustrated, sad, or withdrawn. This is temporary. And we can relate to these feelings when we think back to challenging things we’ve experienced, and what’s best to keep in mind is that your baby isn’t exhibiting these emotions because they feel abandoned since, after all, you or another loving and trusted caretaker is literally right by their side during the day and checking on them throughout the night if they cry. A baby is simply expressing their frustration at having to acquire a new skill.
My oldest child loathed tummy time and screeched unbearably each time I’d put her on her stomach. It was horrible to hear, but I never once thought her crying meant that she felt I’d abandoned her — she was crying because she didn’t like what she was experiencing in that moment. Please take it from me, and please benefit from my vast experience working with babies — sleep training does not harm your child’s attachment to you in any way. If anything, having a well-rested, happy, and healthy baby and mom helps improve familial attachment since no one feels crummy and like they’re not well-rested. When in doubt, reach out to your friends with older children who sleep trained them as infants. Ask them what their experience was like and if their child is still strongly attached to them — my guess is their answer will be a resounding yes!
Are you worried about sleep training? It’s normal to have concerns, and I can help you address them. Sign up for my newsletter now to receive worry-busting articles that will help you decide if sleep training is right for you and your baby.