What happens when we bow to societal parenting pressures?

Never again would we pressure our baby to do something so far beyond her developmental capabilities. She was 8 months old. She had started waking in the middle of the night for 1-2 hours, wide awake and wanting to play. Yes, I was tired, but I turned to a sleep trainer because I thought I had done something to cause this, or that perhaps something was wrong with her. Now with hindsight, as a certified Infant Sleep Educator, I understand that this stage is perfectly normal, very common and does not need to be ‘trained’ out of my baby (there are other developmentally appropriate strategies to help with this stage, but leaving your baby to cry is not one).

Yet the sleep trainer told me it was something I needed to ‘train’ out of her. As a first time mama, without a strong support network, I didn’t know any better.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou.  

I wish we hadn’t done it. I wish we had been better informed. I wish someone had been out there shouting from the rooftops that sleep training is not necessary, that it’s not the only way.

Because sleep training is not necessary, it is simply one option among many, and for so many parents it is not the right choice (for some perhaps it does feel right, and that is their personal choice). And yet society puts expectations on us that lead us down that road. A road that impacts our parenting journey.

A road that impacts our little ones’ relationship with sleep not just for those few short months, but possibly for the rest of their lives.  

It is not necessary. If it doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to do it. If you hear alarm bells, trust them. For your baby’s sake, and your own. 

Hayley Bukhamsin is founder of The Gentle Mama (Instagram, Facebook). She is a certified Infant Sleep Educator, specialising in supporting parents to achieve healthier and happier sleep, balance for the whole family, and confidence in their instincts. Her primary motivation is to empower parents to cut through the clutter of confusing advice in order to listen to their own intuition and their babies’ communications.  

Whilst Hayley’s clients come from all over the world, she currently lives with her husband and two daughters in Dubai, UAE. She earned a BA Hons degree from The University of Nottingham, UK, before starting a career in advertising. It wasn’t until the birth of her first daughter that she discovered her true passions: attachment parenting, gentle parenting and, above all, healthy infant sleep. 

For the last 5 years, Hayley has pursued this passion actively, building an attachment parenting community within the UAE, blogging about her parenting experiences, founding The Gentle Mama and writing for national and international titles including The Natural Parent Magazine.  

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