Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Disadvantages of Sleep Training

Training a baby to sleep is most commonly done by letting the baby cry it out. While this may work for some babies, there can be negative consequences.

Note: These are general statements and do not apply to all sleep-trained babies.

1. Your baby may sleep only in the crib. Most mothers I've talked to shared that they can place their baby in the crib and the baby will fall fast asleep on his or her own. I admit I am a little jealous. However, that baby falling asleep anywhere else is out of the question. My baby does not like sleeping in his crib (mostly at night), but he can fall asleep anywhere: in the car, in my arms or lap, in a highchair at a restaurant, etc. I'd much rather deal with a cranky baby at home than in public!

2. Your baby may be less affectionate. One mother told me that because she sleep-trained her child, the girl is a self-soother in other ways as well. She does not like her mother hugging and cuddling her most of the time. Another mother's girl does not come to her when she cries because she was taught to soothe herself. My son, on the other hand, loves to snuggle, spend time with me, be held and kissed, and be comforted by me when upset (even when he's upset with me).

3. Your baby may be more attached to the bottle. Most mothers who sleep train also bottlefeed their babies. That is not a problem except when they give the baby the bottle to fall asleep with. I'm very surprised at how many mothers do this when all pediatricians recommend not to. That habit is very bad for babies' teeth. The formula or milk pools in their mouth and can cause cavities even before teeth appear. (Babies who nurse at night pull of when done, so no milk continually drips into their mouth as with a bottle, though breastfed babies should still have their gums and teeth brushed or wiped daily.) Babies should be weaned from the bottle and using a sippy cup by one year, if not sooner, but it usually takes self-soothers longer because they become emotionally attached to the bottle.

If you decide to let your baby cry it out, consider these consequences and actions you can take to prevent them, such as helping your baby fall asleep in different places, being extra affectionate during the day, and weaning your baby from the bottle early.


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