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Drowsy But Awake is BS: Here’s Why

Drowsy But Awake is BS: Here’s Why

sleep training tip

“Put your baby down drowsy but awake,” said Baby Experts everywhere. 

“Just do X every Y minutes until Z”. I mean, he’s a pediatrician, so he must know, right?

Sit by the door. Pick up, put down. Don’t pick up. Pat and shush. Swaddle, don’t swaddle. Be consistent, do the Shuffle™, the Gentle™, Cry it out™, No Cry,™ don’t do, should do . . . 

Sound familiar?

Parents, friends: pull up a chair, grab a drink, and come sit with me for a minute. I have an important message that I really want you to hear. I’ve been mustering the courage to share this for 15+ years. You deserve to know the truth. 

Read on for some secrets the Baby Sleep Expert industry doesn’t want you to know. I hope that it serves you well.

Oh but wait, I forgot, I’m a Baby Sleep Expert. I should probably give some context about that. Yes, it’s true, that’s what they say, and you’ll find many versions of that title on this website because that’s what the SEO Experts wrote so that you could find your way here. 

The truth is, I can’t even say that title out loud without gagging. 

If you know me, you know I don’t BS or sugar coat, nor do I consider myself an Expert of anything. I’m a mom and a teacher, partner and mentor (also cook, cleaner and bread winner). But I’m also a humbled-by-life student. 

If you’re anything like me, you’re a Type-A, organized, smart, and a responsible achiever. You learned early on that the secret to success was in hard work, persistence, and doing your best. And you probably followed a formula that goes like this: Study + Practice + Hard Work = Achievement. 

Do you see where I’m going with this?

OK so now let’s fast forward and turn the focus back onto you. Let’s look through the files and flip to the day that you came home from the hospital with a baby you knew nothing about. 

Then let’s zoom into to that moment you panicked and thought, “Oh Sh*t, I can’t do this, I think we made a terrible mistake.” With bleeding nipples and OMG — why didn’t anyone tell me that my vagina would bleed for a month too?! 

And maybe your thoughts went a bit darker to guilt and shame and sounded something like the soundtrack in my head:

“You’re useless. What made you think you could do this? You’re the worst mom ever. Who doesn’t love being a mother? Assholes, that’s who. Look at you, you’re pathetic and selfish. People have babies all the time and you can’t even take a shower.” 

 It was the first time as a grown up that I recall feeling so helpless. 

If you’re anything like me, you did the research. You read all the books and blogs and had all the right products ready in place for this day you had dreamed of for so long. 

In panic and fear, great parents like you and like me went back to the books looking for answers to our zillions of questions.

From The Experts

From people like me (sigh).

But here’s what I want you to know: The Experts™ don’t have The Answers™. 

Well they have plenty of answers, but most of them sound something like this:

Sit by the door. Pick up, put down. Don’t pick up. Pat and shush. Swaddle, don’t swaddle. Be consistent, do the Shuffle™, the Gentle™, Cry it out™, No Cry,™ don’t do, should do . . . 

HOW THE FORK IS THAT HELPFUL?

Now, I talk to parents like you every day, and I hear stories like this:

“My baby goes down really well, but she wakes up screaming.” 

“We’ve been following the (fill in the blank) method but she’s been crying for weeks, and it’s just getting worse. What are we doing wrong?”

“We tried (fill in the blank) but she cried so hard she threw up!”

You can’t imagine the sleep training horror stories I hear. And you know what? It makes my blood boil because I know why. It’s the Experts who peddle products and sell one-sized-fits-all solutions for babies who aren’t mathematical equations. 

So today is the day that the last straw was pulled, and I can’t stay silent even one more minute. 

It’s too much for today so stay tuned for more real-talk that I’ve learned from my greatest teachers of all – my kids and all of the babies I know from parents like you. 

So I’ll leave you with one hopefully useful tip:

PUT THE BOOKS DOWN.

Hit the mute button. Power down. Stop listening to the noise – especially the Baby Sleep soundtrack’s greatest (WORST!) hits:

“Put your baby down drowsy but awake.”

These seven words – don’t get me started I could go on and on for hours. The baby puke stories, all of them come from this mixed with the Methods and Solutions from here to Timbuktu. 

The answers my friends isn’t in books or in blogs, from MDs or PhDs or in any alphabetic letters. 

There is only one answer, and it’s not where you think.

But look around for that small human in your home, that little person has all the answers. 

 

 

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Hi, I'm Natalie, founder of Mommywise. I'm a Brooklyn mom of two (now) teenagers, PPD survivor, still humbled by the early years of parenting. I started this blog in 2004 as a way to help other parents who felt as dark and lonely as I felt to feel less shame, normalize the feelings of not loving parenthood, and raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders. I'm passionately committed to helping new parents feel more joy, offering sustainable employment for women and mothers, and contributing to positive change in the world.

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