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I'm Tracy 

I'm the founder, writer and advocate behind the award-winning blog, Raised Good - a guide to natural parenting in the modern world.

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Parents Need More Rest, But Sleep Training Isn’t the Answer


“The obstacles of new parenthood can feel impossible to navigate. As a new mother, I was exhausted; nobody told me that I would have to carry my baby everywhere. I was emotionally drained, while being bombarded with conflicting advice from just about everyone I knew.

Then I hired a Baby Walk Consultant. Apparently, babies can walk from as early as eight weeks, making life so much easier for parents. Yes, you can train your baby to walk – the key is consistency.

As soon as your baby shows signs of being able to stretch her legs, she is ready to walk. It won’t take long – three days seems to be the magic number. Your baby may cry (sometimes for hours) but that is totally normal and all part of the process.

The key is to be consistent. Resist the urge and do NOT respond to your baby’s cries. Just stand your baby on her legs, shut the door and leave her for twelve hours. In the beginning, this may be heart-breaking as your baby will ‘protest’ and may even vomit; rest assured this is completely normal.

Remember that your baby is trying to manipulate you. After all, they prefer to be carried, but babies can and should walk from eight weeks of age. The key to independent walking is that they need to teach themselves – it’s called ‘self-walking’.

If you fail to be consistent your baby might not walk until she is 18 months old! Imagine how exhausted you will feel after carrying your baby around for all that time! You might feel that eight weeks is too early for babies to learn to walk, but that is simply not true. “Certified and Qualified” Baby Walk Consultants guarantee that babies can walk from as little as eight weeks.

Because, as we all know – a baby that walks at eight weeks and does not rely on their parents to be carried everywhere is a GOOD BABY.”

A mother recently sent this tongue-in-cheek passage to me, asking if I would post it anonymously. Why anonymously?

Because the notion that babies can and should sleep through the night independently has become so normalized in western culture, that those who dare to question its validity are stereotyped as soft, inept and unwilling to do what needs to be done.

There is no denying that night time parenting pushes us to our limits. Modern society has fragmented the community that was designed to share the load and act as a safety net when new parents need it most. Most families require both parents to earn an income and in many western countries, especially the US, maternity leave is abysmally inadequate.

But, that doesn’t condone systematically dismissing normal infant behavior and labelling it as a “problem” that needs to be “fixed”. As this mother suggests, it is as ridiculous and futile as expecting newborns to learn to walk; as dangerous as misdiagnosing health as disease. If we are to truly solve the issues surrounding parental exhaustion, we need to accurately identify the problem before we can have any hope of solving it, no matter how unconventional the solution may seem.

If we condemn infants for completely normal behavior we disconnect ourselves not only from our babies but from our instincts.

Mothers begin believing that ‘experts’ know what her baby needs more than she does; she begins reading the clock rather than her baby’s cues and her confidence in her maternal abilities wanes. Because, as inconvenient as it may be, it is NORMAL for babies to wake every few hours, nurse and fall asleep at the breast for six, twelve, twenty-four months or longer.

Motherhood is inescapably exhausting but western habits and cultural ideals surrounding infant sleep are making it infinitely more difficult than it needs to be.

Desperate parents are understandably tempted by tough tactics but it doesn’t need to be this way.

Countercultural mothers who lie in the dark, night after night, nourishing, comforting and connecting with their babies deserve to be supported, not chastised. Yet, our misguided society tells us that if we hold our babies, we’re preventing independence. That if we soothe their souls, we’re spoiling them. That if we nurse them to sleep, we’re creating ‘bad’ sleep associations.

Thankfully, as natural parents, we know better than that. Our tender experiences of sharing sleep with our babies trumps the most elaborate and ingrained of mainstream scare tactics. Our maternal instincts override artificially created cultural ideals. And we simply don’t buy the misinformation sleep trainers are selling.

So, we ignore convention and nurse our babies to sleep anyway.

We welcome our children into our beds, sometimes for years longer than we ever imagined. We rock and sing and cuddle our children to sleep in the wee small hours of the morning. We push ourselves to find gratitude in the difficult moments of parenthood, for there is untold beauty and opportunity for personal growth in this unifying and necessary human struggle. We share our hopes, dreams and fears in Facebook groups, seeking refuge in the compassion of online friends who offer us the sense of belonging we crave, but can’t find in our day to day lives.

And sometimes we turn to sarcasm and humor to shed light on the commonly accepted views that babies are capable of more than they truly are. Sometimes a change in perspective is all we need to question an accepted practice. So, I thank my sister in the night, who I hope I will meet one day, for her words that inspired reflection and for challenging us to view our babies needs through a different lens.

“Make your choices based on LOVE not FEAR.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Hi there!

I'm Tracy

Hi there! I’m Tracy - the founder, writer and advocate behind the award-winning blog, Raised Good - a guide to natural parenting in the modern world. Based in Vancouver and originally launched in 2016, I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response and the global community that’s developed. 

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  1. gwen bridge says:

    I wanted to sleep with all my kids. My older however, would not stop kicking and we could not sleep with him. I slept with my daughter until she was about 5. My twins I slept with until 7 months and they kept me awake all night, i was trying to keep both nursing. It is hard to have two babies sucking on you all night long, just physically they are pulling the breast down on each side and that does not work so they pop out and they lose it and wake up. When they were small you could not move to put the boob back in without waking the other. I tried stacking the lighter one on the heavier one and that kind of worked sometimes. I lasted 7 months until they started crawling and falling off the bed and sucking all night long pulling on me. Then they got sleep trained with periodic lapses on my part. They sleep well (11-12 hours) and are almost two now.

  2. Bonnie Conner says:

    Thank you for continuing this message. I am 63 years old, with 10 grandchildren so far. In the 80’s, I was able to breastfeed and co-sleep. I didn’t have the pressure today’s mothers have. I did what felt right. I feel that I should apologize to today’s mothers. I had hoped we would be further along in our society in terms of promoting the rights of mothers and babies; I had hoped we would value both more by now. We seem to be going backwards instead. Please don’t stop promoting your message, if only so that parents can see there is another way. When your children are grown, you will never wish that you left them more to work more.

  3. Ashley says:

    I’m curios about your thoughts on children going to school. I see and hear children, even my own, who have a really challenging time leaving mom and dad all day to go to school. Going to school all day at age 5 and six years old seems like a crazy idea to me. Yet I am sending my children and so are most others.

  4. melissa says:

    Thanks for another great post! After a few sleepless nights with my not so little little guy who I have been co-sleeping and breastfeeding for 2.5years, I needed the encouragement.

  5. Eva Garay says:

    Thank you so much for this post! It really describes my situation and it is such a help and reassurance for me to continue the type of parenting I have chosen.

  6. Amanda says:

    Thank you for the humour, I have read the first part a few times now and double over in laughter every time. Exactly what this sleep deprived mom needed to read to solidify that I do know what’s best for my babe & it’s ok we nurse ALL night ????

  7. Priscilla says:

    I think you mean Elisabeth Kübler Ross. But it just tried to autocorrect to Kugelr for me too! Great article!

  8. Angela says:

    My little guy just turned 3. He still sleeps with me & breastfeeds. He’s very healthy & well adjusted.
    Thanks for the encouragement to keep parenting by instinct.

  9. Heidi says:

    I agree that sleep training is not the answer. Instead, new parents deserve more support, so they can better meet the rigorous demands of parenting. One year of paid maternity leave, like some countries offer, would be a good start.

  10. Darla says:

    Such an important topic! Great post!!!

  11. Kelly C Benson says:

    Thank you for this! I’m a first-time grandma, and I have been shocked and truly disturbed about the pseudo science out there creating sleep “disorders” that need to be treated for the low low price of hundreds of dollars per hour. This is an industry – franchises, actually. Anyone can become a sleep coach regardless of academic background. Just pay a few thousand dollars and take 70 or so hours of on line training. (And then they need to pay hundreds or thousands per year to use their certification in their marketing – and that’s why this is actually a franchise). This has to stop. And shame on the AAP for not taking a stronger position on this industry of sleep coaching. Our current generation of mom’s and dad’s are being inundated with false information and sometimes even being shamed if their little infant isn’t sleeping through the night. Here’s the inconvenient truth – sometimes babies don’t sleep well. It doesn’t mean mom and dad are doing anything wrong, necessarily. And not all wakefulness is created equal. If I wake up in the middle of the night with heartburn I may actually have to walk to the kitchen and get some alkaseltzer. I don’t view myself as somehow developmentally challenged because I’m not self soothing myself back to sleep with a burning stomach! I take care of the problem and then go back to sleep. LOL I have spent hours and hours and hours reading articles and watching videos on this topic. What is consistent – it’s a results based program. It must be OK to let an infant cry unattended because the results are great. Here’s the thing, though. Children are resilient and will adapt to any regimen, any schedule. What choice do they have? So to judge the ethics of the program based on the results is automatically skewed. And why don’t we have more research out there that clearly shows whether sleep training is bad? Probably because the people who are inclined to believe it’s bad are also disinclined to do the research. For example, we all know that second hand smoke is bad for infants. Should we take a group of 500 infants and expose half of them to second hand smoke to prove that? What ethical person would be willing to do that study?

  12. […] Parents Need More Rest, But Sleep Training Isn’t the Answer […]

  13. Charlene Farwell says:

    All parents need to take it easy. The society enforces new parents to either conform or experiment with their babies. However, just like walking takes time, a child’s sleep pattern becomes better with time too. No need to hurry into anything.

  14. Charlotte says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’m so glad I came across your article. My baby girl turned one a week ago. She sleeps with me and we’re still breastfeeding. I often feel like I’m going against the tide by continuing to breastfeed and co-sleep. I can’t believe I was actually considering sleep training her. Thank you for reminding me what parenthood is all about.

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