The Wall Street Journal’s writers are known for great reporting, but they clearly didn’t do a lot of research when they wrote today’s article Can You Sleep Train Your Baby at 2 Months? Lots of agonizing parent reports of the cry-it-out method, and professional agreement that babies 8 weeks old don’t sleep through the night normally anyway. They totally got it right that running and picking up a waking (but not screaming) baby is not going to teach good sleep habits, but there was no mention of pick-up/put-down, using Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s for deepening sleep in newborns, not even the use of swaddling to build a precious extra hour of sleep!
Parents who do not know how to handle the screaming and/or want to develop good sleep habits will go away from this article wondering if they can truly hack listening to an infant scream for the common “30-40” minutes. What a mistake!! Crying like that doesn’t do anyone any good. It isn’t good for a baby or a parent, and can lead an exhausted and demoralized parent down the path to desperation, including falling asleep on the couch holding a baby (a documented suffocation or fall risk), feeding a baby large and frequent feedings to “sedate” them, or shaking that baby after nothing works.
Creating good sleeping behaviors in the first 3 months is completely possible and much easier to do than letting them scream. But sleep at this age isn’t a full 8 hours, it isn’t done without creating a sleep environment that supports brain development at this age. It takes some knowledge of baby development, some patience, and a willingness to accept that the techniques that work for a 3 year-old are ridiculous for a 3 month-old. Apples and oranges, apples and oranges.
After a few years of being a Happiest Baby on the Block educator, I am becoming increasingly frustrated and discouraged with the situations I hear out in the world of baby calming. My grandmother from the old country knew more about handling newborns than most professionals with doctorate degrees! Like the story of the elephant and the blind man, many of the professionals I meet are largely concerned with protecting their piece of the authority pie than helping babies and parents. Researchers spend more time in universities and labs than out in the field, which is to say in people’s homes, calming babies themselves. Yes, it really builds your skills if you have actually successfully calmed babies with your recommendations, not just assembled results of research studies. This is not “anecdotal evidence”, my friends, this is real life experience. Get some.
Parents, please, please, do not read the WSJ article and redouble your efforts at cry-it-out with young infants. Read Dr. Karp’s book The Happiest Baby on the Block, watch his video, contact me or another certified educator, just do not think that this is all there is out there.
BTW, Dr. Karp’s book The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep will take you all the way into the kindergarten year, with good advice about toddlers and preschoolers!