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Exhausted new mom's hilarious take on 'expert' sleep advice goes viral
Rebecca DubeTODAY
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April 23, 2013 at 11:10 AM ET

Like many exhausted new moms, Ava Neyer read stacks of books about baby sleep. But nothing seemed to work for her twins, now 5 months, one a night owl and one an early bird. Every new expert offered a different solution -- and what's worse, they all seemed to contradict each other.


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"Don’t let your baby sleep too long, except when they’ve been napping too much, then you should wake them. Never wake a sleeping baby." Does "expert" baby sleep advice make your head spin?
Neyer poured out her frustrations to friends in her mom's group in a hilarious rant, one that will strike a chord with any mother who has ever paced the floor at 3 a.m. with a wide-awake baby, thinking "WHY WON'T YOU SLEEP?!" Posted on a friend's Tumblr, Neyer's essay went viral on Reddit and has been making waves in the mom-blog world.

"I didn't expect people to like it as much as they did!" said Neyer, 31, who lives in Fort Bragg, N.C. She's still struggling with sleep issues, but her experience has taught her to take all advice with a grain of salt. "A lot of it is learning to read your children," Neyer said, rather than reading books.

Neyer's brilliant take on expert sleep advice:

"You shouldn’t sleep train at all, before a year, before 6 months, or before 4 months, but if you wait too late, your baby will never be able to sleep without you. College-aged children never need to be nursed, rocked, helped to sleep, so don’t worry about any bad habits. Nursing, rocking, singing, swaddling, etc to sleep are all bad habits and should be stopped immediately.

Naps should only be taken in the bed, never in a swing, car seat, stroller, or when worn. Letting them sleep in the car seat or swing will damage their skulls. If your baby has trouble falling asleep in the bed, put them in a swing, car seat, stroller, or wear them. Use the crib only for sleep and keep it free of distractions. If the baby is having trouble adjusting to the crib, have them play in it first. If the baby wakes up at night and wants to play, put fun toys in the crib to distract them.

Put the baby in a nursery, bed in your room, in your bed. Co-sleeping is the best way to get sleep, except that it can kill your baby, so never, ever do it. If your baby doesn't die, you will need to bed-share until college.

Keep the room warm, but not too warm. Swaddle the baby tightly, but not too tightly. Put them on their backs to sleep, but don't let them be on their backs too long or they will be developmentally delayed. Give them a pacifier to reduce SIDS. Be careful about pacifiers because they can cause nursing problems and stop your baby from sleeping soundly. If your baby sleeps too soundly, they’ll die of SIDS.

Don’t let your baby sleep too long, except when they’ve been napping too much, then you should wake them. Never wake a sleeping baby. Any baby problem can be solved by putting them to bed earlier, even if they are waking up too early. If your baby wakes up too early, put them to bed later or cut out a nap. Don’t let them nap after 5 p.m. Sleep begets sleep, so try to get your child to sleep as much as possible. Put the baby to bed awake but drowsy. Don't wake the baby if it fell asleep while nursing.

You should start a routine and keep track of everything. Don’t watch the clock. Put them on a schedule. Scheduling will make your life impossible because they will constantly be thrown off of it and you will become a prisoner in your home.

Using the "Cry It Out" method (CIO) will make them think they’ve been abandoned and will be eaten by a lion shortly. It also causes brain damage. Not getting enough sleep will cause behavior and mental problems, so be sure to put them to sleep by any means necessary, especially CIO, which is the most effective form. CIO is cruel beyond belief and the only thing that truly works because parents are a distraction.

Formula and solid foods will help the baby sleep longer. Solid foods shouldn’t be given at night because they might wake the baby. Don't stop the baby from nursing when asleep. Be wary of night feeds. If you respond too quickly with food or comfort, your baby is manipulating you. Babies can’t manipulate. Babies older than six months can manipulate.

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Clean when the baby cleans. Don’t worry. Stress causes your baby stress and a stressed baby won't sleep."

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I am a "Book Parent" too. When my husband & I decided to have a baby, I read every book I could find on pregnancy--how to get pregnant, how to stay healthy while pregnant, what to expect from my body while pregnant, etc. I know I read at least 2 dozen books. Then when we finally got pregnant, I read everything I could find on infants and parenting of young children--How to books, books about sleep, books about eating, books about milestones, books about mental development, emotional development, physical development, etc.

Then he was born.....and I was at a complete loss. He was born with insomnia, and that threw everything off. But at least I felt armed with information. If something wasn't working, at least I sort of knew why, and that was a little comforting.

The challenging years were the toddlerhood years. I was in a constant state of worry over what I was doing--whether my discipline methods were helping or hurting him, was I nurturing enough, too much? etc. Despite learning at his birth that I would not find the answers in books, I continued to read everything I could find about child development and parenting. I still do to this day. In fact, in my home library, I have FOUR 6ft tall shelves filled with nothing but parenting and child development books--At least 100 of them. I've read ALL of them, plus some I checked out of the library, or only read once and traded in at the used book store.

I know the answers are not in them, but I do feel I have learned a lot from them, and that that knowledge helps to guide my instincts. It arms me with ideas I may not have come to on my own, and thus gives me more options when I face a new dilemma. Books are helpful, and worth reading, but we can't expect them to guide us completely.

Denikka - posted on 04/25/2013

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I was 6 months along when I found out about my first pregnancy. I had never grown up or really been around babies, so...zero experience, zero knowledge, etc.
I did what most first time expectant mothers do. i started reading. I thought with all the other moms out there, all the experts, all the people who *know everything* that I would find answers A, B and C and things would fall neatly into place.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Yea right!!
I quickly discovered that there were as many different parenting styles as there were parents. As many different expert opinions as there were experts. And most of them conflicted in one way or another.
So I kept reading. And I'm still reading. I looked for answers that felt right, that were relevant to my own beliefs and to how I instinctively felt i should parent. If something seemed like an okay idea, but most of what I read said that it wasn't..and gave reasons WHY it was a bad idea, I would generally change my mind.
But I learned pretty early on that parenting through instinct and common sense will get you a LOT farther than parenting by someone else's rules. Every kid is different. You can't even parent your second child exactly the same as the first, because they'll respond differently.

At this point I have two happy and healthy children, aged 4 and 2 years, and I have one on the way. I let my kids in my bed, I don't always make them eat their vegetables and sometimes we have *unhealthy* stuff for dinner like hotdogs or pancakes with no fruits or vegetables at all.
I figure that overall, if your kids are healthy and decently behaved and you pay attention to them, you're doing a pretty good job. The small things really don't seem to matter. Figure out what works for you and your kid. It doesn't matter if the kid is on a feeding schedule or fed on demand. It doesn't matter if you choose to put your kid to bed a little later or a little earlier.
It's the overall that matters. As I said, if your kids are healthy, decently behaved and you pay attention to them, they'll probably turn out just fine and that's what the real end goal is. It's not happy, healthy children. In reality, we are raising future adults.

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