First, I want it to be primarily known that I never have and never will judge a mom for what they choose to do to get their child to sleep. I share my story for two reasons only: to encourage other moms to support their fellow moms in whatever sleep journey they have chosen and to share my story in hopes that other moms see the benefit of fighting the “no-cry” fight. Cry-it-out is so much easier, but no-cry is so worth it!
What does the “no-cry” sleep method look like? Well, it means you get your baby to sleep without tears. Completely without tears? I’ve discovered that is a no because the battle often made me cry or so angry that I made her cry (yes, I am ashamed of that). There have also been times, now that she’s older, that she’ll either fake cry or fuss and I’ll let her do that in her room because the former is manipulative and the latter means she’s about to fall asleep but she’s making one more stab at warding Neverneverland off (and me entering the room at that time would wind her up again).
The main book I referenced in my “no-cry” journey was The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night. In this book there are all kinds of ideas on how to get your baby to sleep without letting them cry – everything from creating a routine, to giving them a lovey, to rocking them, to playing music, etc.
In a world where “cry-it-out” is the way to go I’ve found motherhood to be one step harder, but not in the way you’d expect. The three main challenges I faced were the sleep itself, judgements from other moms, and finding a caregiver willing to commit to “no-cry” sleep time.
Truth is, I have a challenged sleeper on my hands and she’d remain so “cry-it-out” or “no-cry.” She’s just so excited to be alive and hanging out with me that sleep is constantly at the bottom of her priority list. I’ve worked hard to get her to be the sleeper she is, perhaps too hard, perhaps I took it too seriously… perhaps not. What I do know is I largely did it without letting her cry.
I often felt judged by other moms. They often told me I was “spoiling” my baby or that I was “doing it wrong” and that my baby would be a good sleeper if I would just let her cry-it-out. It’s because of those moms I ended up trying the cry-it-out method at all. It didn’t do anything but teach me my baby girl was going to cry for every nap and bedtime for a minimum of 15 minutes. If I don’t want to cry twice a day for 15 minutes I certainly don’t want my baby girl to experience that daily sorrow.
As a mom who puts her baby to sleep in a “no-cry” way it is nearly impossible to find a caregiver willing to commit to the same. It’s especially tricky because Maisy is so die hard all about Mommy that she tends to cry for other caregivers simply because they are not me. Not even Josh can do sleep stuff without getting yelled at or having lots of tears shed – poor guy. ‘Tis the lot of this musician’s wife. With Josh on the road so much Maisy is so used to me doing sleep with her that she downright refuses to allow him to help even when he is home.
So why did I choose the “no-cry” method and why did I stick with it despite the struggles? Well, to be honest, the main reason is that when I prayed long and hard for a health care provider for my daughter I prayed for someone I could trust. Dr. Mallory has been that in every way, from ear infections, to vaccinations, to breastfeeding, to the other natural remedies I so wished for. So why wouldn’t I trust her when she said “no-cry” was the way to go because your baby is only learning to distrust you when you let them cry-it-out?
Before I even became a mom, before I even got pregnant, one thing I knew was that I wanted to form a trusting and emotionally connected bond to my kids. I knew I wanted this not for my babies, toddlers, and small children, but primarily for the years still far in front of me, the teenage years. As a result, the decisions I make as a parent now not only are working towards creating good and kind adults, but they largely revolve around my relationship goal. I’m fighting now for the cornerstones of a relationship with my teenage Maisy that inspires her to confide in me, even if she does something terrible. If that means I have to spend a longer time getting my daughter to sleep in these early years, so be it.
Now-a-days she still doesn’t go to sleep by herself and I’ve become intensely grateful. Very honestly, the time I spend with her before she falls asleep for her naps and bedtime is my favorite part of the day. We read books, pray, and cozy in to her bed to snuggle until she drifts off enough for me to sneak out. I love it so much that most nights I actually spend way longer than necessary in that little bed with her because I can’t pull my self away from the inverted spoon and cheek to cheek snuggle we find ourselves in.