Letter To A “Sleep Training” Baby

Dear Precious Little One Left To Cry,

I cannot imagine how confused you must be. Just moments ago you were nestled warm and safe in the arms of your sweet momma, the primary being God has entrusted to nourish, comfort, and care for you during this brief yet delicate time in your life.

But now you lie alone in the dark, removed from her familiar, comforting embrace. You cry out for her, communicating in the way God designed you to. Perhaps you are still hungry? Perhaps your diaper is suddenly full? Perhaps your hands are cold? Perhaps you are scared? Perhaps your clothing is bunched beneath your back? Perhaps your stomach hurts? Perhaps your toe is caught on a thread in your sock? Perhaps your muscles ache? Perhaps you are lonely? Perhaps you crave nearness to your momma like I desire nearness to my Heavenly Father?

Just moments ago your momma had scooped you up when you cried out for her. This is what she has done ever since you were born, and you have come to trust that your needs matter to her, that she is your small, albeit secure island in the midst of a raging world. In this instance you were hungry, and although she speaks an entirely different language than you do, a language with words, your momma worked quickly to translate your cry, brought you to her breast, and thus your need for nourishment was met. As you suckled, you relaxed in her arms, your trust in her affirmed.

Letter To A “Sleep Training” Baby

But now she is not coming to scoop you up into her arms, to translate your cry, to meet your need. Completely helpless and dependent, you cry out again for her, your God-given instincts compelling you to use your voice to get her attention. Still she does not come. Still your need for her remains.

You continue to cry out for your momma – five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty minutes – your breath catching, your head throbbing, your body trembling from the stress hormones that flood your tiny veins. What you cannot yet understand is that your momma has fears that are holding her hostage outside your nursery door. You see, Little One, your momma has lived for many years in a culture that has ceaselessly shouted to her that neediness and dependency are more than not okay – they are to be purposefully avoided at all costs. Oh how my heart breaks for you, Little One. Oh how it breaks for your sweet momma.

Perhaps she has been told by a friend that you should be “sleeping through the night” by now? Perhaps she has been told by a pediatrician that you are capable of sleeping for x hours because you are x months old? Perhaps she has been told by her mother that she needs to stop “coddling” you now or you will still be needing to be rocked/nursed to sleep when you are in college? Perhaps she has been told by a “baby whisperer” that your sleep is something she must be in control of? Perhaps she has been told by fellow believers that you are capable of destroying her marriage if she “gives in” to her instincts to comfort you? Perhaps she has been told by a pastor that good Christian parents demand obedience from their children in all things, at all times? Surely she has been told by the culture at-large that success stems from independence, and that dependency is failure.

While I do not know the specific reasons, I can say with certainty that your momma fears in a very real way that your wakefulness is an indication that she is failing you, the very being she loves beyond measure. And this fear is so palpable and so strong that it is preventing her body from throwing open the door to your nursery, running to you, scooping you up in her arms, and comforting you as God designed her to. Instead, she stands paralyzed, her heart racing, her mind spinning, her palms sweating. She may be silent, Little One, but she is hurting so badly.

Soon your little body will exhaust itself, your crying will cease, and sleep will come over you. The Lord is good, he is gracious. He will not allow you to continue in agony much longer. I pray your relief comes soon. When you are grown up you will not be able to recall specifically this night or any others like it from your infancy. You may, however, always wonder why you fear night’s darkness, the sensation of being alone, or the sound of a baby crying.

But your momma? She will always remember this night and any others like it. Someday her heart will break when she recollects how she ignored your cries for her comfort, how her paralyzing fear to meet you in your neediness was not of the Lord. I pray you will be gracious to her, and that the Great Comforter will wrap her in his arms and comfort her with his truth.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 ESV

With love for you and your momma,


3 thoughts on “Letter To A “Sleep Training” Baby

  1. shepherdsteph Post author

    Amy, thank you so much for your kindness. I pray that it does too. The truth on this topic needs to be known – it is not at all Biblical for babies to be left to cry.

  2. Pingback: Gentle Nighttime Parenting | Why Not Train A Child?

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