The brazen alternative to sleep training is…well, no sleep training. (Ooh, and a few extra hot tips which I’ll share with you at the end.)
OK, so maybe it doesn’t sound all that crazy. But bear with me, because I wish I’d known this.
I’m here to tell you that if you decide not to ‘sleep train’ your baby, if you shun the books and theories and just kind of see what happens…
If you go with the flow, let nature take its course, help your child get to sleep any which way you can rather than following some stinky set of ‘rules’…
It will probably be OK.
And that’s the bit the books, courses and even sleep helplines don’t tell you. Because they don’t want you to know it will be alright. Otherwise who will buy their books, their courses and fund their pesky helplines? Err, well nobody, I guess.
Alternative to Sleep Training – the Back Story
Perhaps I should give you some background here, because I can’t say my ground-breaking new theory is one size fits all.
Our toddler has pretty much always been a good sleeper (keep reading for those hot tips I promised).
The thing that always plagued us in the snooze department was how were we actually meant to get him to sleep in the first place.
At bedtimes my alternative to sleep training was the path of least resistance – feed him to sleep. At nap times I’ve always taken the sneaky route and pushchair walked him to sleep.
Yes, oops. Health visitors everywhere will be up in arms, sending out SWAT teams or whatever it is they do when parents burn up the rule book.
Alternative to Sleep Training – My Panic
Don’t get me wrong, I knew this wasn’t the way super amazing parents would roll (if such a thing exists).
In the early days I read all the sleep training books. I panicked about the hype that if you didn’t teach your baby to get to sleep by themselves ASAP after they dropped out of your lady oven, they’d be broken for life and would literally NEVER learn to fall asleep solo.
And then what? They’d need your boob until they die? You’d have to saw it off and leave it for them in your will? What would their future wife say about this remarkably odd set up? Brrr…
Was I messing with science by hoping for an alternative to sleep training?
So what is this Sleep Training?
The sleep training options seemed to involve timing your child whilst they cried in a ‘controlled’ fashion. Tried that for about four seconds. Nope. No way was I tough enough. (Hats off if you managed it.)
Then there was something about hanging around in a dark nursery with your hand on your baby whilst they fussed for hours. This would apparently take months to get results. It sounded like a faff, with no bugger getting any shut eye.
I wondered how mums managed in days when there were no books, courses or pesky phone lines.
I asked a friend who had been through all of this with her children, and had also shunned sleep training. She assured me it would all kind of ‘just happen’. She wasn’t sure how or when, but it would work itself out.
So I clung to that. No training. No crying, controlled or otherwise.
No more books or courses or pesky phone lines. The alternative to sleep training. The ‘bury our heads in the sand’ plan.
Could it really be true?
What Happened with the Alternative to Sleep Training?
Well, it was all kind of sudden, really. I guess it tied in with our 21 month old learning to ask for what he wants.
Communication, hey. And use of the word ‘cot’.
Because as our little man approaches two, it will be the end of breastfeeding. (I know – I had no idea it would drag on this long either. I kind of thought kids started eating egg and chips at six months old, and that was the end of it. Doh.)
And as he eats more for tea, feels more independent, and wants less milk before bed, he actually doesn’t want to be fed to sleep anymore. He just has a quick milky snack and then demands to be put in his cot.
Yes, I was shocked too. It happened as quickly and as simply as that.
One day the usual ninety treacherous minutes of feeding (Yes – it was looong – but I got a lot of stuff done on my phone!), the next day maybe half an hour and then a request for ‘cot’. Hey?
Is this a Joke?
At first I thought he was just making conversation or having me on. So I tried it. And he stayed there. No fussing.
So we stuck with it.
Since then he’s been having just a lot less milk than usual and then pulling away, ready for bed.
Yippee. Mummy gets her night back.
The other day I even tried the cot at nap time. That worked too. Wow. I know this is just normal in most houses, but it’s unheard of here. Totally unheard of.
So there it goes. The only thing I can say is that we’ve always stuck to a bedtime routine, and the usual comforts.
But it’s nothing fancy.
We just do the same thing every evening, and that in itself is routine. Dinner at the same time, wash, nappy change, sleeping bag, stories with daddy, milk with mummy (the loooong bit) and then down in the cot when asleep. Night night until morning.
The only change now is that there’s no need for the controversial ‘feed to sleep’. Phew.
In fact maybe I should write a book. Or sell a course. Or ooh – set up a pesky phone line. I’ll call it the alternative to sleep training. The ‘bury your head in the sand’ plan. It will probably make me millions…
Ha ha, only joking.
Let Me Help You!
In all honesty, I would love to share with you a few items that I couldn’t have lived without in my alternative to sleep training world.
The world where we’ve helped our child to get to sleep until he naturally didn’t need us to anymore, and the world where our child has slept long and happy – perhaps because there has been no stress around the whole bedtime situation.
(Please note as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This is at no extra cost to you, my lovely reader, and it helps me to keep this teeny blog alive. It’s cool to support us little guys, and we love you for it.)
A bedside crib for those early months
These are a total godsend. It’s lovely to have your little bundle snuggled up next to you (but not taking up half of your precious bed space!)
A sleeping bag
We still use these instead of blankets or duvets, so that the little one doesn’t get in a tangle, or lose his bedding in the night.
We tried cheaper ‘no-name’ brands but they didn’t fit properly so I abandoned them without use as they didn’t feel safe.
I now always use the Gro Company brand (other reputable brands are available!), for my own peace of mind (and so I don’t waste money on stuff that I’m too nervous to use.)
The Gro Company website has this handy link to help you choose the right size and tog. I still refer back to it, especially when the seasons change.
Money saving tip – now that our little one is a bit older and I’m less paranoid about everything, I often buy second hand Gro Company sleeping bags from local ladies on Facebook Marketplace (or you could try Ebay).
Just look for items that are in good condition, from a pet free and smoke free home (if those things are important to you).
Yes! This has been another sleep hero for us. White noise all the way, so you’re not freaking out every time you tiptoe past the nursery (standing on every single annoyingly creaky floorboard as you go. Grr.)
We have this gorgeous Ollie Owl:
But if you want another money saving tip, we often use an app on an old phone that we don’t use any more. Just make sure you keep it out of the little one’s reach, away from flammable surfaces, and all the usual paranoid mum safety things!
OK, we have blackout blinds, blackout curtains, and even the travel blackout blind for when we’re away from home.
Dark is the way forward for us (and hopefully this way he’ll be accustomed to it, rather than afraid of it, too…)
(Again – I have seen second hand versions on Facebook Marketplace – keep your bargain eyes peeled.)
Get the temperature right
For those early parenting days when we panicked about everything, this kept my anxious mind at ease.
Another money saving tip for you though – check whether your baby monitor tells the temperature too. Ours does, so maybe we didn’t need both (but I did love that the Gro thing used a traffic light system to tell me all was well!)
And finally – books!
Bedtime stories should be the law! Even from a very young age.
Dr Seuss has been a hit in our house since the early days. There is something magical about the funny rhyming and the imaginative little tales. (Well, it keeps me entertained, anyway!)
Money saving tip – don’t forget your local library, where the books are free (to borrow!), and there are often cute nursery rhyme sessions for the small people too. Win-win.
You Tell Me
I would love to hear your sleep tips and what items you couldn’t have lived without. Did sleep training/no sleep training work for you? Are you a white noise junkie too? Your comments are always cherished here in the world of Brazen Mummies.
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More, More, More!
Ooh, you’re still keen. I’m loving your energy.
If you fancy a bit of a giggle, you should check out my Brazen Mummy Quiz. Or there’s this wonderful piece written by my blogging friend Nanny Maryanne, all about How to Help Toddlers Learn. (Especially good if you’re a Toddler Group Hater, like me!)
As always, thank you so much for reading. Your little eyes brighten my day.
Love Anita. xx
Featured image – Pixabay