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The Beyond Sleep Training podcast

- a podcast dedicated to sharing real tales of how people have managed sleep in their family outside of sleep training culture, because sleep looks different with a baby in the house and because every family is different there is no one size fits all approach to take.

 

I'd like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this podcast is being recorded the Kalkadoon people I pay my respects to the elders of this nation and the many other nations our guests reside in from the past present and emerging we honour Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, water and seas as well as the rich contributions to society including the birthing and nurturing of children.

 

I’m your host, Carly Grubb. I’m the founder of The Beyond Sleep Training Project and the founder and managing director of the Australian based charity Little Sparklers. I am the mother of 3 young children and I live with my husband and family in the outback town, Mount Isa in North-West Queensland, Australia.

I am a primary school teacher by trade and so I have had much to learn on this unexpected trajectory life has taken me on.

This podcast actually feels like something I’ve been craving for the last 6 years or so. When I set The Beyond Sleep Training Project up back in 2017, my original plan was to collect tales of how families did life and sleep in particular without sleep training (or having failed at it like me which I’ll talk about more in our next episode). I was then going to collate these tales into a book and the group was meant to be my way of keeping the contributors in the loop while I pulled it together, but the group itself became the haven and hub people needed to reach like-minded souls and so the book was swiftly put on the backburner in favour of fostering the safe space that was growing before my eyes.

I’ve revisited the idea of a book a few times over the past 4 years, but it never seemed to be able to compete with the ever-growing weight of priorities for my limited time.

I’d toyed with ideas for a podcast previously as I really enjoy the format whenever I have been asked to be a guest, but it all felt a bit too hard, and yet another set of skills I didn’t have to try and learn.

Late 2020, I decided that podcasting was something I really wanted to do. Not just because I think this podcast is needed but also because it was something I wanted to do. And that’s important to note. As much as it has been an enormous privilege to do the work I am doing, in many ways, the route I have taken has been driven by the needs of the group itself and the beautiful volunteers who I owe the world to. And while I don’t regret anything I have done, I did feel that by the end of 2020, that there was only so much I could do without becoming resentful of the heavy responsibility and duty I felt/ or still feel unless I tried to skew the balance back to something I wanted to do… for me AND for our organisation

And this podcast is that.

I thrive when surrounded by good company, heartfelt conversation, wisdom and listening to the stories of others.

The stories you will hear shared on this podcast are rich, diverse and deeply personal.

Some are heartbreaking testament to the brokenness of our current society and how completely families are being undermined and convinced that they cannot trust themselves or their babies and yet others are full of triumph and confidence with a staunch refusal to conform right from the outset.

We will hear from families who have an abundance of high-quality support and ones with none. Families who are working to break cycles and re-parenting themselves alongside parenting their babes. We will listen to people who are honouring cultural roots and nurturing their children in the ways of ancestors free from western versions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to be a good parent.

Some of the tales may seem almost unexceptional in just how simple and straightforward they sound, and this is an important element needed in this narrative, too. Because while this road less travelled may be ever-so challenging and fraught for some of us, for others it couldn’t have been any easier and this enormous variation is testament to how there really is no one ‘right’ way to do this season in life and what will feel right for you in your setting is deeply personal.

In the group, we sometimes hear that it feels like that the only answer to any struggle involves breastfeeding and bedsharing. And I can totally see why this can appear that way on the surface because for large numbers of people in the group, these two tools ARE central to how we have managed this time (myself included) but this is not the full depth of the story. On this podcast, we will hear from many people who discovered their way without breastfeeding or bedsharing in their repertoire.

And so, that would be the lens I’d ask you to consider listening with. Not every person’s experience will resonate with your own but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t lessons to be learned from simply listening to their experience. One of the very first lessons I personally needed when I was beginning to move beyond sleep training was that if I was going to get more sleep, I needed to let go of all of my rigid ideas of HOW I WANTED to get it and be open to considering options I had previously written off as things I would never do. Bedsharing being the top of that list.

Now with this first mention of shared sleep, I will make a safe sleep note for all listening along and ask you to please look up the safer sleep section on our Little Sparklers website to help you make informed decisions about your sleep arrangements using the risk reduction strategies that apply to you. I will put a link in the show notes.

Find our safer sleep section here

For some families, it will absolutely be the case that shared sleep isn’t their safest option but with the research clearly showing that upwards of 75% will fall asleep with their baby sometime in the early months of parenting it is 100% necessary that every family knows how (and preferably has) a shared sleep surface prepared for those occasions when despite all good intentions to avoid shared sleep, you find yourself sleeping with your baby.

A firm mattress, clear of heavy bedding and pillows near your baby, away from areas that your baby could get trapped in, is an essential space for every family with a young baby in their care, whether you intend to share sleep or not.

I was so against cosleeping with my first baby. I hadn’t really heard much about it other than to know that it was dangerous, something to avoid as it might a. kill my baby and b. create a bad habit. The thing with this was, as you will hear more about in the next episode, my baby was an extremely wakeful little sparkler and he was all but impossible to put in his cot once he was asleep. And so, with these two elements combined, I was fighting against both his nature and my own as a breastfeeding mother to stay safely awake with him while I tended to his extremely intense nighttime needs and I was frequently falling asleep with him on the nursing chair. Nursing chairs, couches, sofas, recliners are some of the highest risk locations for sleep accidents and an absolute no-no for sleeping with your baby and yet I had no idea that this WAS cosleeping. And dangerously so. I really had no idea that bedsharing/cosleeping weren’t the same thing. Co-sleeping is when you find yourself sleeping with your baby on ANY surface (including on a safer prepared surface, bedsharing) it’s an umbrella term that takes in all of the situations and settings including those that send the risk levels through the roof.

And it was precisely this lumping in of every scenario of shared sleep that meant that I was inadvertently placing my baby at great risk every single night for the first 6 months of his life until I came across information on HOW to actively reduce risk when sharing a sleep surface.

I wasn’t TRYING to share sleep with my baby. I was in fact, actively TRYING to avoid it. I was trying to follow all of the safe sleep rules as I knew and understood them and his cot was meticulously made up to meet the safe sleep standards… but just because I knew, wanted and expected my baby to sleep on his own in his own cot, didn’t mean that it was in any way an achievable (and therefore safe) sleep arrangement for our family.

It is for this reason that you will hear and see in our Beyond Sleep Training work and through Little Sparklers a huge push for high quality, evidence-based safe sleep information to ALWAYS include risk-reduction strategies for shared sleep and for that information to be shared in a way that acknowledges the importance of families knowing that shared sleep is something they may wish to consider for their family. We are really pleased to see that the Lullaby Trust and Basis in the UK have adopted a risk-reduction approach to shared sleep in safe sleep education and some of their resources are outstanding. Red Nose Australia also supports this approach and we look forward to the development of their resources even further in 2021. The Australian Breastfeeding Association and Australian College of Midwives have adopted this risk-reduction approach in their work which makes my heart glow knowing just how many families have access to better advice and education than I had with my first guy back in 2014.

If you’ve listened this far, first of all, thank you and I’d invite you to not only subscribe to this podcast to keep the stories coming but also, to make sure you have joined our free peer support group, The Beyond Sleep Training Project of Facebook where we can help you hash out any issues you are currently facing and to also build that sense of community you may be craving if you are cutting a new path that feels a little different than the one currently being travelled by those around you.

Find us wherever you like to listen

  

  

We also have a Facebook page and Instagram to help keep your feed in line with your values and keep building you up as you live this time in your life. We also have a brilliant website www.littlesparklers.org and you can sign up for our free newsletter if you’d like to keep up to date with everything we’ve got going on across platforms.

While it can feel overwhelming at first trying to figure out how to do this sleep thing without sleep training, you can rest assured that we are all living proof that it is not only possible but also one of the best decisions 100s of thousands of us ever made.

Keep an ear out each episode for our guest’s ‘Tip of the week’ for their top pearl of wisdom that you might find helpful, too.

So without further ado, let’s get stuck in…

And I thought it would be most appropriate that the very first episode would feature my tale because to hear it, also explains how The Beyond Sleep Training Project went from being a small seed of an idea from my lonely heart all the way to a global movement, making waves around the world.

Stay tuned…

Want even more? Become a show patron for early access to episodes, bonus episode and monthly ask-me-anything (AMA) sessions with our host and guests.

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