I felt like the previous post was a bit incomplete and I wanted to delve into the topic a bit more, especially to the sleep school part.
After Jordan was born, I assumed that sleep schooling was a normal part of raising a baby and would probably be necessary at some point. I didn't question the concept, or wonder if there were alternatives to it. I realized my doubts about sleep schools almost by accident.
I remember a thread on social media of instructions for parents from decades ago that are now considered wrong, and one was how mothers were forbidden to breastfeed too often, even if the baby was crying. The thought alone made me sad and anxious and I tried to comfort myself by thinking that maybe the mothers' instincts were stronger than such bad advice. However, it's easy to be horrified by things in the past now that we know better but are there things that are recommended right now but that we'll be horrified with later on? I started thinking, is there something I'm doing now because I'm told to do it but that my instincts are against?
Well, I realized that sleep schools have never felt right to me. The more I got to know about the subject the more I started to question them.
You probably already know me well enough to know that I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or criticize anyone's choices. This post reflects on the subject, but I'm not here to tell you what is right or wrong. I just want to share my own thoughts, because I feel like there aren't that many texts questioning sleep schools, and I'm happy to hear your thoughts, for and against.
To quickly return to my story, I realized that deliberately ignoring my baby's signals didn't feel right. I remember someone telling me that they were instructed that the dad does the sleep school and the mother stays away for the first night, because it can be so difficult for the mother, her presence can confuse the baby and the father might be better at being strict. This sounded terrible to me. If it's an operation that the mother might not even be able to go through with, how can it be right? Also, if the baby gets comfort from their mother's presence, the thought of the mother being away during such a difficult experience seems wrong to me.
I will clarify a couple of concepts here, because the terms are not unambiguous. When I talk about sleep school, I mean some method where the baby is allowed to cry a little bit longer each time before parents go to them or/and only minimum contact is made with them when they wake up or something similar.
By accident I found an instagram account and then a website called unihiekkaa and everything I had been thinking about was there and much more! If you also question the idea of sleep schools, it's worth checking out. I'm trying not to repeat the site too much, but I'll just say that baby's sleeping can be helped by different methods without sleep schools. What's most important (and this was a really amazing realization for me, if it's true), there isn't necessarily anything wrong with your baby's sleep even if they wake up more often than someone else baby, and you don't necessarily have to do anything to it for the baby's sake. The author cites research that has found, roughly speaking, that babies didn't learn to sleep for longer periods as a result of sleep schooling, they just stopped sending signals to their parents at night, i.e. crying. So sleep schools succeed in improving parents' sleep, but it was not proved that they would improve the babies' sleep. The fact that the baby stops sending signals to their parents sounds really sad to me, although of course I'm speaking as a layman, I don't know the scientific side of the subject at all. Here's one more important side to the topic: if the parents' coping requires sleep school, I understand that very well and it can then be the best option for the family as a whole. Your own sleep is also super important for yourself, but it's also important for the baby that the parents don't drive themselves to exhaustion.
I talked about this with Eerikki and told him what I had read and uncharacteristically for myself I on purpose gave a lot of weight to how I felt, if usually I am mainly interested in what has been scientifically proven. I feel like parenting is something where I trust my instincts pretty well. I was a bit surprised even that Eerikki was of the same opinion and so we decided that, at least for the time being, we will not consider sleep schools. If the nights do not improve after the end of the summer, we look for other ways to help our baby to sleep. It's also encouraging that a couple of nights ago our baby slept better than ever, even though we hadn't changed anything. 😄