Are There Reasons Not to Do Sleep Training?

Question of the Day

I am reluctant to artificially make my child cry themselves to sleep. Do we really need sleep training? If putting my baby to sleep is not too difficult, can I just keep holding the baby until they go to sleep?

Adequate sleep and a proper diet are essential for a person to live a happy life. But when caring for a newborn baby, it's easy to miss this part.

father holding his baby

It is often explained that the perfect sleep period comes naturally, with phrases such as the 100-day miracle, but if no effort is made to form a sleeping habit, the child may still eat and sleep irregularly even after 100 days have passed. When this happens, caregivers will have to get up at night and continue to hold or breastfeed their baby over and over again.

Won't sleep education cause problems with attachment?

Many people say they can't start sleep training because they're worried about having attachment problems with their child. However, in the long run, getting enough sleep at night and having fun during the day may have a more positive effect on baby attachment formation. Guardians are humans too, so when they are tired, they can show annoyance at the child's small actions.

A parent's mental health is the most important factor for happy parenting. Babies need to learn to sleep on their own. If the mother has to hug them every time the baby wakes up so that they can get back to sleep, then the mother doesn’t get enough sleep either, which can cause a lot of problems in day-to-day life.

After 100 days, a certain amount of sleep pattern is formed, and after 6 months, the habit of night feeding is reduced, and you can sleep to a certain extent. If your child doesn't get a good night's sleep, they may appear more irritable during the day. Newborns have not yet formed a habit, so depending on how their parents educate them, they can undoubtedly create a good routine and sleep pattern.

family

I hate hearing my child cry.

The reason many people refuse sleep education is because of the misconception that you have to let your child cry themselves to sleep. If you help your child develop good sleep habits from a very young age, you will be able to sleep on your own without having to hear your baby cry. An example scenario of a good sleep habit here is a child lying in the bedroom with their eyes droopy and falling asleep on their own while the guardian performs a sleep ritual.

When you have a habit of having to put your baby to sleep and need to try and correct their routine to start establishing better sleep habits, then your child might cry more. A child may cry violently when trying to change an already accustomed pattern, but the crying gradually disappears when parents set a goal and stick to it.

Of course, there are children who sleep well despite having no sleep education. However, in modern society, there are far more cases where sleep education must be consciously practised. In the past, it was only natural to go to bed at sunset. But in the modern generation, 9 pm is considered very early. If parents don’t consciously try to put their child to bed before 9 o’clock, it’s easy to end up with a habit of your child going to bed at 12 o’clock at night.

Check if the caregiver is under stress.

Of course, raising a child doesn’t work like a mathematical formula, so it’s okay to put the baby to sleep as long as the parent can tolerate it. As long as the caregiver is not too hard on themselves and their child and the child sleeps well, eats well, and plays well, sleep education does not necessarily have to be done perfectly as described in the parenting books.

mother putting her baby to sleep

As long as the parent is not stressed, it is okay to put the child to sleep with a long hug or by cradling them. However, the health of the child must be observed. Your child should start sleeping at night before 9 pm, so they should get enough sleep. Night-time feeding after teething can cause tooth decay, and frequent night-time feeding keeps the bladder from filling up and disturbs the baby's sleep.

Ultimately, you need to make them fall asleep. Sleep training may be necessary even when your child is not eating well. This is because a child who eats well is often also a child who sleeps well.

# Advice from Eunkyung Beom

The more sensitive the child, the more important the pattern of routine. If your child has a sensitive temperament, you need to provide a sense of stability no matter what the environment is like, so that the child's anxiety can be reduced as much as possible. Do not limit sleep education to the problem of sleep, but also aim to teach your child how to eat enough at meals, have fun during the day, and sleep well at night.

If your child does not sleep well at night, they will be tired during the day and will not be able to play happily. It is very important to adopt a lifestyle for the healthy growth of children and a pleasant parenting life for parents. Please note that developing a sleeping habit is not just concerned with sleep. A child who sleeps well can eat well, and a child who sleeps well can play well!

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Author: Eun-Kyung Beom, Pediatrician
- Baby Sleep Education Expert
- Director of Baby Sleep Research Institute
- Formerly Director of Gwangju Central Children's Hospital


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