The Beyond Sleep Training Project changed my life. 

No exaggeration. 

I joined the project the day it was founded in January 2017, after previously finding the Grubby Mummy and the Grubby Bubbies blog during a desperate search for another path, an answer, some revelation as to what the hell I was doing wrong and why my baby wouldn’t sleep independently. When I found Carly’s writing, my baby was only months old, and we were already on the waitlist for sleep school – and had been for some time. I was suffering from postnatal depression, was a breastfeeding “failure” (I now realise that I was failed) and was completely broken in confidence as a mother; convinced I had it all wrong and that there something terribly wrong with our unsettled baby who we just couldn’t put down... Nope – turns out he was just a normal baby and it was our expectations that were broken.

I remember joining and being overjoyed that there were others out there like me – that didn’t want to sacrifice our baby’s mental health for our own when we knew the two were inextricably entwined. Others who physically couldn’t stand behind a closed-door listening to cries. Who couldn’t try to settle an upset baby in a cot when our every instinct screamed to pick them up, even though the experts said it was necessary. I breathed a sigh of relief and am forever grateful I stumbled upon that first article of Carly’s.  

I went from wracked with guilt and shame that I was failing to teach my baby to sleep, convinced that I was building that rod for my own back, wondering what the hell I was doing wrong, to embracing the strength that comes with responsive parenting, a strength that I thought was a weakness. Embracing contact naps was the first, and hugest weight off my shoulders – I realised I was doing the most important thing in the world, trapped under my sleeping baby, and that this wasn’t actually a problem to be solved.  

The Beyond Sleep Training Project became my village. We surrendered to our baby and his needs and met him where he needed us. We held our sweet boy day and night. I became educated. I was once convinced that bedsharing was always dangerous – we had stayed awake, pacing the house, often for days and nights on end to avoid falling asleep with our baby. Now, we felt confident to create a safe cosleeping environment when he needed it.

Finally, we all slept.

What I was led to believe was so wrong – nothing had ever felt more right. 

The years went on and we kept trusting our instincts and finding our own path. We kept snuggling, responding and holding our boy and finding comfort in shared sleep. The Beyond Sleep Training Project also led me to discover gentle parenting and opened up a whole world that I'm so grateful to have found. I went from thinking I could never go through the newborn phase again, to feeling really hopeful when we fell pregnant with our second little boy. Our toddler was still in our bed but we were all happy. Every time we planned to transition him to his own room, we just... didn’t. 

Our second baby arrived when our first was 2.5 years old. Our experience couldn’t have been more different.

We owned the way we parented and there were no doubts.

We held our baby constantly and unapologetically. All the “bad habits” - feeding to sleep, contact napping, bedsharing were just our default. We made a huge family bed, even though I'm sure many people found it strange and we ourselves were unsure if it would work out. Where I was once terrified to bedshare, this time nothing came more naturally. Our little one was born with an airway disorder and being close to me regulated his breathing; I woke to the slightest change in his breathing. This drove home to me that, from an evolutionary perspective, mothers and babies are meant to stay close. Instead of pacing the house all night, I learnt to feed laying down and felt more rested than I ever could have imagined with a new baby. This time, I watched my baby, not the clock and he slept whenever he was tired and wherever we happened to be, either in the carrier chasing after his busy brother or on the breast while we all snuggled up. Letting go of the need for a schedule of any kind was completely freeing.  

We’ve been through so many phases, ages and sleep changes and this time I’ve relaxed in the knowledge that this is normal, and what I’m doing is right for our family. My boys are now 4 years old and 19 months old. Little one still takes every nap in my arms and I know this time is fleeting. Before long these sleepy snuggles will be a distant memory so I’m embracing every last one like I wish I had with my first baby. At night time, we all sleep in that giant family bed and we’re all happy with this arrangement. I’ve never had to get up during the night because I can just rest and feed without waking myself up. I feel this togetherness really helped foster the bond between my boys and brings us all closer as we reconnect as a family each night.  

We were told that our style of parenting might be fine with one baby, but couldn’t possibly work with another – that's a myth. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows and there have been tricky phases and juggled needs but we all do our best every day and it has worked for us. Pre child me always swore I'd never bedshare - I would have laughed or cried if you told me I'd one day have two full-time little lodgers in my bed! 

I wish every new family was educated about biologically normal infant sleep. That society recognised that responding to our babies time and time again is a strength, not a weakness.

Learn more about normal infant sleep

Through The Beyond Sleep Training Project, I found my people. I found some of my best friends through joining the admin team and am still so thankful to have the opportunity to contribute in some small way.

Every parent should have such an empowering and supportive village to lean on.

Little Sparklers is what mothers and babies need, and I truly believe that it is going to change the world, one family at a time. I’ve watched the group grow from a handful of members to over 100,000! Those ripples are becoming waves and the tide is turning against sleep training culture.

This movement completely turned my parenting journey on its head and allowed me to become the mother I was meant to be. Snuggled between my two little loves, I know that this is right. This is where I am meant to be and I wouldn’t change it for all the solitary or uninterrupted sleep in the world! 

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