The Firestorm Over Sleep Training One’s Baby

The Firestorm Over Sleep Training One’s Baby

Years ago when my children were teenagers, I read through these journals of a mother who had nine children. I loved learning from her! She was a godly woman who loved her husband and children. However, I came to the part where she wrote about sleeping with her children (like four would be in their bed at one time) and never sleep training them. She felt that those who didn’t have a family bed but did sleep train their children were in sin. Well, we did sleep train our children, and we didn’t have a family bed. She was making something that wasn’t sin into a sin. God speaks nothing about these two issues in His Word. This is legalism.

The other day, a woman who has six children and had recently had a baby told me that she was dealing with depression and even considered suicide. She told me that she needed six hours straight of sleep in order to get well. She had dealt with this for years. I asked some young women what books they would recommend for sleep training their babies, and they told me they had used Babywise, Moms on Call, and Taking Cara Babies.

I had also learned the link between depression and lack of sleep recently. This makes sense since sleep is incredibly vital to good health. Lack of sleep is known for even causing cancer! So I made a tweet about sleep training babies and mentioned these three books. Well, a firestorm broke out! When I shared this on Instagram, I received almost 500 comments. On Facebook, I have almost 600 comments. Someone shared a recent video made by Doug Wilson and his daughter, Rachel, called Myths, Lies, and Modern Moms.  They just spoke about this topic on their video! What a wonderful coincidence, because they are both very wise.

“Women can be very emotional on the topic of their own children. Extra emotional. This is a very sensitive topic for a lot of mothers. For example, the very hot debate about whether of not you should sleep train a baby ever. If your baby isn’t sleeping, should you ever let your baby cry it out in their crib. Well, this escalates almost instantaneously like this is abuse. Then Christian moms will totally shy away from it because they would never want to be abusive. “(Rachel)

“And then if dads want her to let the baby cry it out then he’s abusive, and it’s a really hot issue because her friends are telling her it’s abusive.” (Doug)

“Let’s pare it back and ask ourselves, does God ever allow His children to suffer for their own good? This thinking about sleep training being abusive can easily lead to ‘All disciplining is hateful’ which is directly counter to what Scripture says.” (Rachel)

We sleep trained our four children at six weeks old. Yes, we let them cry it out. The first night, it took about a half hour. Each night decreased dramatically. They were fully sleeping at least six hours within five or so days. This was not abusive. This was teaching them that every time they woke up, they didn’t need to cry. They could go right back to sleep, and they did! Not one of our children would ever say they were abused. They were loved and well-cared for by us. They were good sleepers their entire childhoods.

I know young mothers who have one and two year olds and even older who consistently wake them up throughout the night. They eventually have to pay a lot of money to get the help of a sleep consultant. It’s a whole lot easier to sleep train them when they are young rather than when they are toddlers or older. The older they get, the harder it becomes because their strong will gets involved and they haven’t been trained to sleep through the night.

If you and your husband wants to have a family bed and not sleep train, this is fine! I am not writing this to bash couples who do this. Do it, but many mothers can’t sleep well with their babies in their beds, or their husbands simply don’t want this. This is who I am writing this for. There is no biblically right way in this area. We aren’t commanded to co-sleep and not sleep train, and we’re not commanded to let our babies sleep in their own beds and sleep train. Therefore, every mother gets to decide what to do, but she should absolutely listen to her husband since this isn’t a sin issue, and she is to submit to him in everything. Sleep training is NOT abuse contrary to the popular opinion of this day and age!

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Ephesians 5:24

6 thoughts on “The Firestorm Over Sleep Training One’s Baby

  1. Sleep trained my baby at 3-4 months and he has slept 12 hours a night straight ever since, he is now a year and a half. I plan to sleep train the next one even earlier, probably 6-8 weeks. Best decision I ever made for my health and my marriage! My husband and I have our evenings together and then get to sleep peacefully. As tempting as it is to have your baby snuggling in your bed, it is in their best interest to let them learn to self soothe. Feeding them lots during the day helps too!

  2. It’s so ironic that if a woman puts her child in daycare all day at 6 weeks so she can go back to work, that’s totally fine, but if she lets a baby cry for 10 minutes because he’s fed, changed, and just very tired and needs to learn to sleep on his own, that’s “abusive.” People are so backwards these days!

  3. I too have seen this divide amongst women from both sides. I usually don’t hear one side going as far as calling out the other side as sinful but there is definitely a judgment of what is correct and beneficial and what is not. If it is not sin I believe women should let go of the judgmental attitudes towards other households. We can look at all the evidence and outcomes and pray the Lord helps us make the best decisions for our families. Issues that are indeed sinful such as skimping on wifely duties or being unduly harsh with children can be addressed without binding those sinful issues to a non-sinful family bed.

    I’ve had what I’ve come to learn from online articles is a unique situation. From the day my children were born I wanted them sleeping on their own. I even had a crib rolled up to my hospital bed in my room and put my baby in it to sleep. My husband promptly picked up our crying baby and declared the baby was sleeping with him. He settled her own his chest, she stopped crying and thus our family bed was born. After another child was added and I after I weaned him I found another bed for myself until the kids got big enough to happily sleep together in the same bed in another room. (Now they are much older and have their own rooms).

    Despite my plans, my husband had other ideas. It was not a sin issue either as I never deprived my husband (we could easily escape to another bed for awhile once the kids fell asleep) nor did my husband feel we were being harsh with the children. So far they are growing into really caring adults. Looking back I can see some of my own parenting mistakes but I don’t having a family bed is one of them.

  4. Lindsay, I agree. Also, having worked in daycare in the infant room, they let babies cry it out. Two woman taking care of 11 babies, not letting the babies cry isn’t an option! They all cry to sleep in daycare!

  5. “Let’s pare it back and ask ourselves, does God ever allow His children to suffer for their own good?” If we move beyond the obvious ‘yes’ to this rhetorical question about God sanctifying us, because this concept of our faith can be on the more abstract side to some, we see many instances in real life where we subject ourselves to suffering, pain or discomfort for our own good. Exercise is one example of hurting the body to mold it into a more healthy version of itself. Arduous disciplined study is hard and it molds the mind. Y’all get the idea.

    My wife and I sleep trained both of our sons. We started the process early using their feeding and weight gain trends as the indicator for when to start. Both slept through the night near the two month mark and my entire household benefitted greatly from the process. When my wife is exhausted she is more emotional and more easily flustered so sleep absolutely helped her as a new mother. When I am exhausted it is harder for me to focus at work which makes decision making harder. Sleep helps me greatly in my role as a husband and father.

    Putting the boys on an eat/sleep (and diaper change naturally followed the eat/sleep) schedule and nighttime sleep training were two exceedingly important parenting strategies we implemented early on. Establishing those routines for them very early on and continuing age appropriate routines for them years later continues to pay dividends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *