Have you tried white noise?

White noise and blackout curtains are the placebos of the sleep training world. “Have you tried white noise and blackout curtains?” is the perennial question to any sleep training problem. Have you tried longer wake times? Shorter wake times? What about this book? That book? Are you nursing to sleep? You shouldn’t do that. No, you SHOULD do that. What about swaddling? Pacifier? Are you sure that you’ve tried white noise and black out curtains? Maybe you need to turn the volume on the sound machine up and tape the edges of the curtains down with painters tape. What about a schedule? Cry it out? Graduated extinction? Oh, you should never let your child cry. No, lie next to his bassinet, day in and day out, patting him and holding his pacifier in. Do it for hours. No, wait! Your presence is stimulating to your baby. Just let him cry.

I have a stack of sleep books on the dining room table as high as my head. I’ve read every blog, posted in (almost) every Facebook group. I’ve followed “sleep gurus” on Instagram – guides on this never ending journey to figure out how to get my child to nap. And now I’m dissenting from the groupthink. 

WARNING: results may vary. The people who have successfully sleep trained won’t tell you this. They are convinced it’s something they did - it was their own work, their own righteousness, that merited them a baby that actually naps. A baby that doesn’t cry for five hours a day. They are evangelizers to the Prosperity Gospel of sleep. And if your baby doesn’t sleep it must be because you’re doing something Wrong. But no, don’t protest. If you say it doesn’t work, they’ll slowly sidle away, muttering under their breath or saying (condescendingly) “Well, your baby has to nap otherwise he won’t sleep at night.” Yeah, thanks, I KNOW THAT. And maybe they did succeed at something - they managed not to mess up their child’s sleep. But that’s not because they are better parents. They just got lucky.

But I am here to tell you (in case you are finding this at 3 AM as you frantically google “baby sleep”) that sleep training does not always work. It’s not your fault. Some babies are just wired that way. The sleep training people won’t tell you that, because it doesn’t fit their narrative that they are parenting the Right Way and that all sleep problems can be solved with white noise and blackout curtains.

But have you tried white noise?

Maryland, USA. The author is the mother of a baby who just won't nap (and yes, she's already tried white noise).

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