The Gentle-to-Sleep Approach - Interview with Dr. William Sears


Do you think it's possible to train a baby to sleep through the night?
A mother is biologically wired to respond to a baby's cry. Sleep training means that a mother has to go against her biology, and in doing so, she is desensitizing herself. When a mother desensitizes herself, she follows another person's prescription instead of her own intuition.

What are the potential dangers of letting your child "cry it out" instead of attending to her?
If a baby wakes in the night, some people assume immediately that baby has a bad habit, so they begin to sleep-train him. There may be a medical reason, such as milk allergy. Gastroesophageal reflex is also a hidden medical cause of night waking.

You advocate a gentle-to-sleep approach. Why?
Infants that spend the first year or two in their parents' bed grow up with a healthy sleep attitude. It's a fearless state to enter and a fearless state to remain in. And that becomes imprinted in their minds as "what sleep is." The sleep-trained baby sees sleep as a fearful state to enter and a fearful state to remain in. That is in their mind forever, and that is why they have problems when they are adults. Nighttime parenting is an investment. It is one of the best investments you are going to make.

Are you an advocate of the family bed, where parents sleep with their children?
I use the term "sleep sharing" rather than family bed. I don't like the term family bed. It implies you've got a whole lot of kids, a family dog and mom in the bed, and dad on the floor somewhere!

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