Sleep training is a controversial topic that has been extensively debated among parents and professionals. Sleep training refers to the process of teaching an infant or young child to fall asleep independently, with minimal or no parental intervention. While some parents see sleep training as a necessary tool to help their child develop healthy sleep habits, others view it as cruel and harmful to a child’s emotional and psychological development. This controversy has led to a heated debate in the parenting community, with both sides presenting compelling arguments to support their positions. In this context, understanding the reasons why sleep training is controversial can shed light on this complex issue.

Debunking Myths About Sleep Training

Sleep training has been a hot topic among young mothers for quite some time now. Some swear by it, while others are against it. However, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding the topic, which can make it difficult to make an informed decision. One common misconception is that sleep training involves letting your baby cry it out for hours on end. This is not true. In fact, the cry-it-out method is just one of many sleep training techniques, and not all parents use it. Additionally, sleep training does not mean neglecting your baby’s needs. Rather, it is about teaching them healthy sleep habits and helping them learn to soothe themselves back to sleep when they wake up during the night.

The Cry-It-Out Method

The cry-it-out method involves allowing your baby to cry for a set amount of time before going in to comfort them. The idea is that the baby will eventually learn to soothe themselves back to sleep without your help. However, this method is not for everyone. Some parents find it too difficult to listen to their baby cry for an extended period of time, while others worry that it may cause long-term psychological damage.

Gradual Extinction

Gradual extinction is a gentler version of the cry-it-out method. It involves gradually increasing the amount of time you wait before going in to comfort your baby when they cry. For example, on the first night, you may wait two minutes before going in to comfort your baby, then four minutes on the second night, and so on. This method can be less stressful for both parents and babies, but it can still be a difficult process.

Ferber Method

The Ferber method is a sleep training technique that involves gradually increasing the amount of time you wait before going in to comfort your baby. However, unlike the cry-it-out method and gradual extinction, the Ferber method involves going in to comfort your baby at set intervals. For example, on the first night, you may go in to comfort your baby after five minutes of crying, then ten minutes on the second night, and so on. This method can be effective for some babies, but it may not work for others.

The Controversy Surrounding Sleep Training

Despite the popularity of sleep training, it remains a controversial topic among parents, pediatricians, and sleep experts. One reason for this is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sleep training. What works for one baby may not work for another. Additionally, some parents worry that sleep training may be harmful to their baby’s emotional well-being.

Attachment Parenting

Attachment parenting is a parenting philosophy that emphasizes the importance of developing a strong emotional bond with your baby. Some proponents of attachment parenting argue that sleep training can interfere with this bond, as it involves letting your baby cry it out and not responding to their needs immediately. However, this is not necessarily true. Sleep training can be done in a way that is responsive to your baby’s needs and can actually help strengthen the parent-child bond.

Long-Term Effects

Another concern among some parents is the potential long-term effects of sleep training on their child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Some studies have suggested that sleep training may be associated with an increased risk of behavioral problems, anxiety, and depression later in life. However, these studies are not conclusive, and many experts believe that sleep training, when done properly, is not harmful to a child’s development.

FAQs: Why is sleep training controversial?

What is sleep training?

Sleep training is the process of teaching a baby to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night without the need for parental intervention. There are various sleep training methods, including the cry-it-out method, the Ferber method, and the pick-up-put-down method.

Why is sleep training controversial?

Sleep training is a controversial topic because it involves letting a baby cry for extended periods, which some parents and pediatricians argue can be harmful. Critics of sleep training contend that it can lead to anxiety and attachment issues, as well as impact a baby’s brain development and emotional well-being.

Are there any benefits to sleep training?

Proponents of sleep training argue that it can lead to better sleep for the baby and the parents, resulting in improved overall health and well-being. It can also help foster independence in the baby and promote more consistent sleep patterns, which can become important as the baby grows.

What are some alternatives to sleep training?

There are many non-sleep training methods that parents can use to help their baby sleep better, such as co-sleeping, bed-sharing, and using white noise. Some parents also choose to establish consistent routines and sleep habits for their baby to promote healthy sleeping habits.

Can sleep training harm a baby?

Opponents of sleep training argue that prolonged crying can lead to physical and emotional stress, which can have negative effects on a baby’s health and well-being. While there is no definitive proof that sleep training is harmful, parents should consult with their pediatrician before deciding whether or not to pursue sleep training for their baby. It is also important to note that every baby is different, and what works for one may not work for another.


By Samantha

Samantha is a dedicated mother, passionate writer, and the inspiring force behind As a young mom herself, she understands firsthand the joys, challenges, and uncertainties that come with parenthood. Fueled by her own experiences and a deep desire to help others, she founded as a safe haven for young mothers to connect, learn, and grow together. While embarking on her own motherhood journey, Samantha discovered the transformative power of shared experiences and the importance of a supportive community. With a background in journalism and a heart full of empathy, she set out to create a platform that would empower young moms and provide them with the resources, encouragement, and camaraderie they needed to thrive. Samantha is committed to delivering content that is both practical and inspiring. She works closely with a team of fellow mommies, as well as healthcare, education, and psychology professionals to ensure the blog offers a wide range of insightful articles and valuable resources. From navigating the ups and downs of pregnancy to tackling the complexities of raising a child, Samantha is dedicated to providing her readers with the knowledge and support they need to make informed decisions and create a loving, nurturing environment for their families. When she's not managing or writing her next heartfelt post, Samantha enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, exploring the great outdoors, and indulging in her love for photography. She is a firm believer in the power of self-care and makes a conscious effort to practice mindfulness and embrace life's simple pleasures. Samantha's unwavering dedication to her fellow young mothers is evident in every aspect of Her warm, empathetic nature and relentless pursuit of knowledge make her the perfect guide for young moms navigating the beautiful, messy, and rewarding adventure that is motherhood. Join Samantha and her vibrant community of young moms at, and become part of a movement that celebrates, uplifts, and empowers women in their most important role—motherhood.