Group Ethos: TBSTP Group Guidelines
As a group, we believe that moving beyond the current sleep training culture will benefit future generations of parents and babies and that this is a goal worth striving for.
We recognise that the dominant view of infant and toddler sleep right now, is not a fair and accurate representation of what is normal and expected from a biological, psychological and anthropological standpoint.
It is filled with flawed ‘truths’ that have stemmed from generations of parenting that value hands-off, distant techniques that promote a faux ‘independence’ which is in reality, a child trained to appear independent, who has learned that their cries to be heard will not be heeded or that comfort and response from the caregiver is only given in certain ‘desirable’ circumstances, not unconditionally.
We understand that sleep training practices have been and continue to be undertaken by extremely loving and devoted parents who wholeheartedly believe that these techniques are exactly what they and their baby *need*.
In the current climate, many parents are filled with fear and scaremongering that if they do not train their child to ‘self soothe’ or sleep independently or achieve X amount of sleep each day and night then they will be damaged for life or at the very least, taught bad sleep habits that will be difficult to ever undo.
Other parents are facing extreme stressors and pressure in their lives and fear the lack of control they feel around the amount and manner of sleep they can achieve with an un-sleep trained child is a significant contributor (in some cases, the only contributor) to the challenges they are facing and therefore is the area that *MUST* be fixed in order to maintain function or to address mental health concerns.
We recognise that many families lack the practical support and resources they need to feel comfortable managing their little person’s sleep and the lack of relief and respite leads many to feel that they have no choice but to sleep train.
We see, hear and relate to the many occasions we hear from people who are left feeling completely unsupported, pressured and misunderstood as those in their life, from close family, friends and health professionals constantly push sleep training with little respect for how this parent wishes to parent their child and even less respect for how that child is asking to be parented.
We live in a world that leaves people feeling like their only choice is to sleep train or stay a complete and utter mess. When hurdles are faced and intense patches and waves arrive, instead of words of wisdom, patience, solidarity and reassurance, many are faced with only one ‘solution’ … sleep train or expect to be doing this forever.
Through all of this sleep training narrative, the message runs thick …
You cannot trust your baby and you cannot trust yourself.
Your baby is manipulating you.
Your baby needs to be taught.
Your baby is too reliant.
Your baby has bad habits.
Your baby doesn’t know what they need.
Your baby needs you to call the shots.
Your baby needs to know that you won’t come every time they cry.
Your baby needs to sleep alone.
Your baby is too clingy and you need to nip that in the bud.
‘You cannot trust your baby, you need to sort this out.’
You hold your baby too much.
You feed them to sleep now they expect it every time.
You can’t have them fall asleep in your arms and have them wake up somewhere else.
You haven’t given them the chance to learn to be alone.
You need to give them space.
You are missing their tired signs.
You haven’t encouraged longer sleep.
You haven’t consistently put them in their cot.
When they wake, you pick your baby up too quickly.
You nurse your baby too often.
You let your baby snack.
You haven’t enforced a routine.
You aren’t listening out for their ‘protest’ cry.
‘You cannot trust yourself. Listen to us, you are doing this all wrong.’
The messaging is persistent, pervasive and incredibly damaging to parents who are in a particularly vulnerable, sleep deprived state.
We at The Beyond Sleep Training Project do NOT accept this at all.
This is not how we want parents to feel about themselves on their parenting journey and we most certainly do not want them feeling like this about their baby.
There is a reason we naturally rock and sway and soothe a baby in our arms.
We at the Beyond Sleep Training Project believe that each unique child will find independence with sleep without sleep training.
We believe that while families may feel comfortable at different times in their journey experimenting with options to lead their child to independence, the child will always be the guide we need to see if they are indeed ready for the next step. If they are not, then we will respect that at this point of time, the best option for our child is to recognise where they are at and meet them at their point of need on that day.
We will avoid catastrophising or fearing the future. We will trust in the process and know that not being ready right now, does not mean not being ready ever.
We will see our peers through the intense times and help them ride the waves of doubt. We will offer the kindness, patience, solidarity and perspective they need to find their feet and faith in themselves and their child again.
We will actively advocate for the needs of the child while recognising the needs of the parent.
We will work to support each unique family right through their challenges and see them out the other side of this fleeting time in life while our children need us so intensely.
We will promote safe sleep practices and keep up to date with research and recommendations. (Read group stance here)
We will continue to find support professionals who can be trusted by families who wish to follow this path.
We will parent out loud and advocate for options without ever needing to tear others down.
When we know better, we can do better and the more the world can see and hear about alternatives to sleep training, the more the reality of this change will be realised.
We will not win every battle and the way to see this shift occur will be through reaching hearts and minds, not trying to win an argument of right and wrong that usually only sets people on edge and defensive walls come up.
We recognise that while currently, support is so seriously lacking that the reality right now is far from ideal, this does not mean that we should strive for or accept anything less. We can and should do better. Parents need to be supported so they are able to parent their unique child the way they need to be parented and STILL feel okay within themselves. This is the goal we strive for.
Our group is a safe space for people to explore their options outside of sleep training.
(If you are unsure what constitutes Sleep Training, check out our group stance here)
You will not have Sleep Training suggested to you here.
You will not read glowing reports of how someone sleep trained and it ‘changed their life’.
You will not be told that at some point, sleep training is a necessary trade off for your mental health.
You won’t be told that you need to sleep train so your child can go to daycare.
No one here will criticise the ways you have found that your baby needs to help them off to sleep.
You are safe to voice your fears and frustrations, knowing we will not set out to ‘fix’ you or your child.
You are in safe company here of many parents around the globe who are living various and beautifully unique versions of this time in our lives, all with the common belief that we can do so much better for ourselves and our babies if we move beyond this sleep training culture.
We ask as a group that you honour this ethos and treat the people here with utmost respect as we actively seek to make change in this world.
Kindness, compassion, patience and strength.
Let’s treat each other as gently as we strive to treat our children. Be the change
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