Dealing With Criticism When Sleep Training

by | Jan 21, 2020

Mommin’ Ain’t Easy!

Well isn’t that the understatement of the century. Not only can raising a tiny human feel like one of the most terrifying, isolating, and confusing things on the planet, but the number of opinions out there are endless. Whether it’s your sister, your mother-in-law, or the cashier at the grocery story, it’s inevitable that you’re going to be critiqued on your parenting practices at some point over the next 18+ years.

In my line of work, I obviously see this issue arise again and again when it comes to how parents choose to handle sleep in their household. So, what do you do when that seemingly well-meaning advice and opinions from friends, family, (and strangers) make you question your parenting? How can you politely and graciously tell those people “thanks but no thanks” when it comes to your position on sleep?

Dealing With the Mom-Shamers

Like all parenting decisions, you have to make the choice that feels best for you and your family. Others don’t necessarily have to agree, but they most definitely have to respect it. You might say something like,

 “Thank you for sharing your insight with me. However, [spouse/partner/family member] and I have decided to prioritize sleep for the sake of our baby’s health & happiness, the quality of our relationship, and the betterment of our family unit. While you may not agree with our decision, we would appreciate your support.”

For those very passionate about the topic, you can also add,

“I understand your point of view and am so glad that [their way of doing things] is working for your family. I will most definitely circle back if I have any questions.

I know this is much easier said than done, but it helps if you and your partner/spouse present as a united front.

But what happens if your partner is the one who’s not on board?

When Dad is Not On Board

Please Note: I am referencing this specific scenario because most of the time it’s dads who are less inclined to seek out sleep support. However, Oh Baby has had the privilege to work with many different types of family units and we know that family dynamics are as unique as your child’s sleep struggles are!

This can be a much harder path to navigate because making changes to any sleep situation is hard in and of itself, and can be that much harder when you don’t have the support of your partner (not to mention the confusion and inconsistencies that can accompany two different sleep philosophies).

In my experience, there are three main reasons why most dads don’t think it’s worthwhile to ask for sleep support or pay for sleep help.

1. They think that sleep is just something they should be able to “figure out” on their own.

While I wish that sleep came as naturally as many think it should, if sleep were simple, I wouldn’t have a job! Sleep is an incredibly complex phenomenon and with more and more new information about the science of pediatric sleep uncovered every day, it can be hard to keep up. Trying to navigate the complex world of baby sleep while also trying to parent, work, be a present and loving partner, and take care of your own needs can feel overwhelming. Add in the fact that you’re probably running on fumes from being so exhausted and it can be a recipe for many, many months (even years) of sleepless nights.

Parenting is your job. Many employees take professional development courses to continue their education at work; why not do the same in your job as a parent. It is my job to help guide and support you through these changes as easily and as stress-free as possible. Let me do my job so you can get back to doing yours to the very best of your ability.

2. Mom & baby are up several times throughout the night while Dad continues to sleep peacefully.

If you’ve ever had a sleep evaluation call with me, you’ll know that one thing I frequently ask is whether or not your partner is as impacted by sleep deprivation as you are. Most of the time I’m met with a laugh and a, “Nope, he sleeps right through it.”

With permission, I’m going to share a story from a former Oh Baby Sleep Grad. When I initially spoke with this family on the phone, we chatted about how their 8-month old needed to be rocked for almost an hour to fall asleep at bedtime, woke 3-4 times during the night (and struggled to go back down), and took micro-short naps. Mom was excited when I shared with her that I could help bring peace and predictability into the bedtime routine and teach her little guy to sleep through the night. Dad, however, was skeptical that their situation warranted outside help, and they ultimately decided to keep trying to fix things on their own. About 6 weeks later, I received an email from this family. Mom shared that she had left for a long weekend to celebrate her sister’s upcoming wedding, and within 10 hours of leaving, Dad had texted her saying that the minute she got back, she needed to “email the sleep lady.”

As frustrating as it is, you may have to expose your partner to the reality of your nighttime situation if he is too far removed from it. Every time he complains that he is tired or that he has work in the morning, calmly remind him that you have a solution to the problem. (And if all else fails, plan a girl’s weekend and leave babe & dad to fend for themselves!)

3. They don’t think a “stranger” can fix their problem.

If your spouse is skeptical that some random lady potentially across the country can help your baby sleep, I’m happy to get on the phone and change his mind! I offer complimentary 15-minute sleep evaluations to chat about your current situation, why you’re likely seeing what you’re seeing, and how I can help make things better. During this time, your partner can grill me on whatever he needs to feel better about investing in sleep support.

You can also advocate for your decision by sharing testimonials from formerly tired families, my blog, and social media presence to enumerate all the reasons why you think Oh Baby is the right choice for your family.

So whether you’re getting heated with extended family members or the battle is raging inside your own home, remember that well-rested babies lead to well-rested parents and that as your child’s parent, it is up to you to make the best decisions for them. And remember, whenever you need someone in your corner, I’m your girl!

If you’re exhausted, totally overwhelmed by your child’s sleep habits, or looking for answers to the sleep questions that keep you up at night (literally), then you’ve come to the right place. I’m Jamie, founder of Oh Baby Consulting, and my goal is to help your family get the sleep you need to not just survive, but thrive!