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My Talking Points

I have a lot of thoughts about how we talk about sleep and sleep training.
Here are some topics that you can't get me to shut up about.

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Photos on this page by John Ulman


Sleep training research: There's not as much "there" there as they say. . .

I've spent more than 20 years examining the research that ostensibly supports crying-it-out in even very young infants. Once you start really looking, it's like The Emperor's New Clothes. If you look at it through the lens of both development and temperament, it really falls apart. (My review of the literature is in process for journal submission as we speak.)


Temperament is the dividing line between kids who sleep
. . . and those who don't.

Children who are "good sleepers" arrive on the planet with hard-wired ability to attend to their body's signals and turn away from the waking world to sleep. Sensitive, alert babies? Not so much. Research and parenting advice have so far ignored these big differences and instead assume that one intervention will work easily for all children. Spoiler alert: They're wrong.

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Parenting advice about sleep is needlessly increasing parental anxiety and self-doubt

Parents are strongly warned by experts to start sleep training early and to avoid "bad habits" practically from birth. New parents are terrified that they will somehow ruin their baby's chances of sleep if they hold or rock their brand-new baby. Parents are not afforded the opportunity to experiment and get to know their baby because they are so worried about "screwing it up." It's unfortunate and doesn't have to be this way.


The way we talk about sleep has to change.

"Breaking bad habits," "negative sleep associations," "crutches," "Don't do X, Y, or Z or they'll never...." "Don't help them or they'll never learn to self-soothe." Nowhere else in the childrearing field do we still embrace Behaviorism as an appropriate guiding theory. Only around sleep. It's a dated concept and it needs to go.

Photo of woman holding hands up to say "stop"

Want me to talk more about any of this? Contact Ellie Imbody at Kaye Publicity here.

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