Episode Summary:

Trigger warning, I’ll get a little spicy in this episode of Resting in Motherhood as I debunk common toddler sleep myths. As I was working on my upcoming toddler course, I asked my community about toddler sleep advice that they’ve gotten that just didn’t feel right. I received an overwhelming response and narrowed it down to a few main topics that I will discuss (and refute) in this podcast episode. If you’ve ever been told to lock your toddler in their room or leave them to cry it out, I’ll explain exactly why these “methods” are extremely detrimental to your child’s development and what to do instead. The truth is, your toddler is not crying to manipulate you. Co-sleeping doesn’t make children clingy and overly dependent – it actually does the complete opposite. And, most importantly, you CAN make successful sleep changes in loving and gentle ways that are not rooted in separation and unresponsiveness.

If you want to learn more about making positive sleep changes, I’m on the cusp of launching my toddler sleep course on April 4th. You can get on the waitlist to learn more here. By joining the waitlist, you’re getting $50 off and also the chance to join a live toddler sleep Q&A call with me. Only the first 25 purchasers are getting access to the Q&A because I want to keep it small and intimate so that I can answer all of your questions. Join today!


  • How Brittni is finding rest in motherhood and business as a solo mama to avoid stretching herself too thin
  • Why locking your toddler in their room and leaving them to cry it out are terrible sleep training “methods” & the importance of creating a safe sleeping space
  • Understanding crying and how to help your toddler process their big emotions in a healthy way
  • Debunking common co-sleeping myths and learning to follow your child’s lead when it comes to creating their sleeping space
  • Embracing the fact that the path to true independence comes from a deep and secure attachment and how to help your toddler thrive as an independent sleeper


Read a raw, unedited transcript of this episode.

Brittni (00:01.977)

Hi friend, welcome back to the Resting in Motherhood podcast. How are you today? How was your day going? How was your night last night? I am talking to you from a very wet and cold March day. I am not.

too upset about it because we’ve had sun around like before today and sun forecasted after today. But I will tell you what, like the older I get, the more I’m realizing that I think I just need to live in some like somewhere warm all the time. So I need to live by the beach, I think, or like Arizona or something, because I just cannot hang with winters anymore. I need that sunlight. But I digress.

I will share how I’m currently finding rest in motherhood, which is outsourcing. Right now I’m outsourcing. And I will be honest and say that this isn’t so much in motherhood. It’s more of doing it in business, but it rolls over into motherhood because it’s allowing me to be more present and not stretch myself too thin. So as you know, if you have been listening to the podcast, if you’ve been following me along on Instagram, I am really close to launching my toddler course.

And that requires a lot as a business owner. If you own a business, if you’ve launched a product, you know that there is a lot that goes into it. Not just creating the product. You have to create the sales emails. You have to create the sales content on Instagram. You have to make a sales page on your website, right? Like there’s all these little things that you don’t think about. And this has been a really big lesson, both in motherhood and as a business owner that I need to outsource where I can.

If there’s something that somebody else can do that I’m going to be just as happy with it, actually probably even more, like especially specifically like with a website, that is not my area of expertise. I am going to outsource that baby and it’s going to come back way more beautiful than I could have done it. Yes, it’s going to cost money, but the money is so much more, what am I trying to say? My time, my head space is much more valuable.

Brittni (02:18.265)

than trying to spend that time doing it instead of just spending the money. And so that’s been something that’s really helped me is outsource where I can. So specifically right now in this season, it’s been outsourcing things in my business to people who are experts at what they do and I can give it to them and I can trust that it will get done, like I said, nine times out of 10, much better than I would have done it. But.

It can also be said in motherhood, right? Like one of the biggest things, one of the biggest game changers for me in motherhood, especially when I became a solo mom, was having my groceries delivered. I do not like going to the grocery store with Lila. I love her, but everything, like every five minutes, I want to put this in the cart. What’s that? I want to put this in the cart. I want to walk. No, I want back in the cart. I’m sure you’re shaking your head yes, right? All of these things.

Make grocery shopping with a child not very fun. Some days we do it, right? Like if I just need a few things and I love going to Trader Joe’s with her, that’s like one of our special outings, but the regular grocery store we go to Sprouts, I would prefer to spend my time with her doing something else. So I have my groceries delivered, right? That’s one way I outsource in my life. Different things, right? Like if you have it in your budget to have somebody come clean your home once a month, that’s something that you could outsource.

outsourcing different things, right? And that maybe if you have a partner, it doesn’t mean outsourcing and paying money to have it done. Maybe it means just outsourcing to your partner, right? Or a family member who wants to help you. So outsource, outsource, outsource where you can to open up more space and room and time in your life to rest in motherhood, but also be with your child so that you can take one less thing off of your mental load.

Today’s topic that I want to talk about, I will probably get a little bit spicy. Actually, the idea behind it came as I was working on my toddler course and finishing up everything. I was thinking about what have I not covered? And I will tell you what, that course has everything. But I kind of had this idea because in my zero to 12 month course, I have a whole video module on debunking common sleep training myths. And so I was like, hmm.

Brittni (04:35.417)

I wonder if I should talk about like common sleep training toddler myths. And so that was an idea that I had for the course. And then I was like, you know what? I wanna make that a podcast episode because I think that that information needs to be talked about. I often so much focus on like the cry it out perspective for a baby, but I wanted to ask the community because I feel like I’m kind of shut off in my own little bubble, right? Like the accounts I follow, parent.

very similar to me. I follow like colleagues who have the same certification as me. So my little bubble of Instagram is very curated to me and my life. So I’m not seeing a lot of this like mainstream baby or toddler sleep training information or not information, but I guess it’s information that they’re sharing, suggestions that they’re sharing. So I asked my community, I said, what?

what are some toddler sleep training or sleep, what’s some toddler sleep advice that you’ve gotten that just doesn’t feel right to you? And so I pulled them and I’ve put together the most common of what I saw and what was provided to me. The biggest one is lock them in their room, which I could not believe.

Actually, I can believe it because how is that really different than locking a baby in their room? But to me, and this is what I wanna do this episode. I didn’t really like, oftentimes I’ll take notes so that I can go through and make sure I stay on track, but all I have today in front of me friend is a list. Lock them in their room, cry it out, crying is manipulation. So don’t respond. I guess those all three kind of go hand in hand, but these were the most common.

Stop co -sleeping because it will never stop or it’s a bad habit. And then your child should never come into your room. That’s all I have written in front of me. And I’m just going to go for it today and jump into why this is BS, why we shouldn’t be taking this advice. And that’s what I’m going to do today. So join along as we break these down. So locking them in their room.

Brittni (06:54.745)

Why would we do this? Let’s think about it this way. If your partner wanted to teach you a lesson, I don’t know what lesson they would want to be teaching you, but let’s just say you really needed them. You really needed them at night. And so you told them, hey, I really need, can you just come lay with me in bed? Like, I just really need, I just need your comfort. And they were like, no, you need to learn how to figure this out on your own. I’m going to lock you in the room. And physically lock, like some of these even went down into like,

change the locks so that like your child, you are locking it from the outside, which I’m gonna be honest, that sounds like pure child abuse to me. Like locking a child in their room. Think about how you would feel. Like just me and now I’m an empath, so like I really feel things when I, that’s why I can’t look at any of those sleep training accounts because I literally feel sick to my stomach after I see these things. So when I think about like being locked in a room.

especially a child, it makes me sick. And how would you feel? Not good, right? The person on, how would you feel towards the other person on the other side of the door that has locked you in? Some two things come to mind here. Total helplessness, like you are fully stuck. I mean, let’s talk about, and I’m not a psychologist here, but like, let’s talk about some trauma. Like how would you feel about that room if you’re being locked in there, right?

And then how would you feel towards the person on the outside? Would you feel like you can trust them? Would you feel like they’re a safe space for you? I wouldn’t, right? I mean, you’ve locked me in a room. I have needs and you’re not meeting them. And now you’re telling me that I’m stuck in here. And if we think about sleep, in order to sleep, we need to feel safe and secure. Our nervous system needs to be regulated. Our brain needs to know I am safe enough to go to sleep. And so when our goal,

this independent sleep with a child, because this would be my bet that the reason parents are being told to lock their children in their room is to stop them from waking up at night and going into the parents’ room. So if our goal is independent sleep, if our goal is for them to sleep through the night and not need us, we want them to feel really secure about their sleep space. We want them to feel like nighttime is so safe. If I have a need, mom or dad or whoever,

Brittni (09:23.767)

going to come in here and I’m gonna be safe because the more secure that they feel about sleep the easier it is to separate from us the easier it is to like wake up in the middle of the night oh I’m in my room I know this place is so safe I know that if I actually need someone they’re going to come for me and that’s where that security comes from so if the goal is to get that independent sleep if the goal is for them

to sleep through the night without needing support from us, why would we make their sleep space feel totally unsafe? Why would we make them feel like you’re alone at night? Like, let’s break that down. I mean, especially toddlers, like they’re starting to have fears of the dark. They’re starting to feel like maybe there’s monsters under the bed, right? And now we’re locking them in here and we’re saying, you’re alone. I’m not here to help you.

Wouldn’t that cause more fear? Wouldn’t that cause more insecurity about nighttime, which is actually going to exacerbate the problem and make sleep harder? It just makes no sense to me. And like I said, this episode is just going to be a little bit spicy. I’m just kind of freely going at it, right? And then cry it out. So I would say cry it out and locking them in their room.

really is essentially the same thing because now I guess technically with cry it out, we could be like putting them in a crib and still being in there or like closing the door. They’re not technically locked in, but being stuck in a crib is essentially the same thing as being locked in your bedroom. So if we’re leaving a toddler to cry it out and we haven’t up until this point, let’s say we haven’t done any sleep.

and now all of a sudden somebody’s like, oh, they’re not sleeping through the night by 12 months or 18 months. You have to do cry it out or they’re never going to sleep. First of all, that’s complete BS. I myself can tell you I never sleep trained my child. She sleeps through the night beautifully, started sleeping through the night at two and a half years of age. I was responsive 100 % of the time. I work with many toddler clients who sleep through the night and were never sleep trained, right? So that’s already false.

Brittni (11:41.305)

But the cry it out piece, again, if we want them to sleep independently, we want sleep to feel safe. We want them to know that if they really need us, we will be there. And you might be thinking, or you might have somebody ask you, well, if we want them to be independent, but we keep showing up, aren’t we just showing them that we’re gonna keep showing up? Well, yeah, but.

The path to true independence comes from a deep and abiding dependence, meaning that the more our child knows that we are there no matter what, we are there unconditionally, the easier it is for them to separate because they have that strong base. They have that strong tether to us knowing, hey, they’re still there. I might not see them, they’re in the background, but I’m safe, I’m secure. And so the more that they know that we’re there, the…

were their secure base, the easier independence is. And so that’s the key to independent sleep is leaning in to their need for us, leaning into them knowing that we’re there day or night. Because the more that they know that, then they don’t need to kind of test that at night, right? Like they just have this deep trust that if I have a need at night, they will come. And that’s where that independent sleep comes from. So we don’t want to be leaving them to cry.

We don’t want to not respond to their cries. And I think that this is something, I mean, this can go for babies too, right? If we want to teach our child that our love is unconditional, that their feelings matter, doesn’t always mean that feelings are fact, right? Like they might think that we’re the worst. Lila has told me, you’re a bad mom. And then literally 30 minutes later, I love you so much. You’re the best mom ever, right? So it doesn’t mean that we’re making our children think that their feelings are always fact.

but they’re allowed to feel their feelings. And if we want to raise emotionally intelligent and ultimately emotionally mature people, we wanna be there to validate their feelings. We want to be there to support them through it. And we can’t just do this at night or excuse me, we can’t just do this during the day. We have to do it at night too, right? Because what’s the message being sent? Okay, so like you’re here for my emotions during the day, but at nighttime.

Brittni (14:03.385)

you all of a sudden, you’ve gone my whole life helping me at night, responding to me, and now all of a sudden you’re not here. What message is that sending, right? That’s a very complicated message. Now, wait a second. I thought I could rely on you at night, but I actually can’t. And let’s think about the implications that that would have on your relationship. Again, I am not a psychologist, but just from a common sense perspective, what is that doing to a child who…

has had your support at night and now all of a sudden, nope, you gotta leave them to cry it out. What is that telling them? Wait a second, now sleep isn’t safe. Now if I need mom or dad or whoever else at nighttime, they’re not coming. I’m alone at night. And again, we just start spiraling into these insecurities. Crying is manipulation. Now this isn’t really like advice given by the sleep training industry, but it is widely, I think,

A whole lot of people talk about how children cry to manipulate us. Crying is a communication of an emotion. For little babies, it is a communication of a need. And ultimately with toddlers, it is also a communication of a need, right? I am feeling really disconnected from you right now. I’m going to cry and I need your comfort. I didn’t get what I wanted. The need there would be needing our support to co -regulate through that moment to ultimately learn.

It’s okay sometimes that I don’t get what I want. I’m still going to be okay. And so if we can see that cry as a communication of a need or an emotion, it is not manipulation. Children are not capable of manipulating us. All they are hardwired to do are feel their feelings and get their needs met. So yes, children are selfish. They should be selfish. That’s developmentally who they are. They’re selfish beings, right?

It doesn’t mean that they’re manipulating us. It’s just their brain trying to get their need met or trying to get what the brain, what they think that they need. And so they’re not manipulating. If they want something and they can’t have it and they’re crying, it’s our job to say, Hey, you know what? I know this is really hard. I don’t like when I don’t get what I want either, but it’s not going to change the answer. You’re not going to get it. It’s okay to be upset about it. It’s okay to be angry. I’m here for you.

Brittni (16:29.241)

That’s not them manipulating us for crying about wanting it. They just need some support and understanding that they’re not going to get it. And how they respond when they don’t get it might be really crazy. And someone might say, hey, they’re manipulating you. No, they’re just needing help processing through their emotions. And the more that we help them process through their emotions, the more skills they build to ultimately self -regulate. And something interesting, and I’ve talked about this in previous podcast episodes,

is actually I did on the podcast also break down five common sleep training myths. And I think in that episode, I talked about that babies and children do not have the ability to self soothe. That does not come until the ages of between 18 to 21 years of age. And I’ll say here, self soothing does not mean falling asleep independently. Self soothing is bringing oneself from a dysregulated place to a regulated place. And children are not able to do this. So,

When they are having a tantrum, when they are fully dysregulated, they need our mature nervous system to link up to theirs and co help them co -regulate. And the more that we co -regulate with them, the more skills we build in them to ultimately be able to self -regulate or self -soothe. So crying is not manipulation. Another one, stop co -sleeping because it will never stop.

Or I’m trying to pull up my notes right now because there was another one that was really, I wanted to say the exact words. You really have to stop co -sleeping. It will only become more difficult to stop. I’m trying to see if there’s any others.

Brittni (18:14.745)

that bed sharing isn’t healthy and makes little one too attached. So all of these kind of, right, they’re clumped together saying that co -sleeping is bad. You’ve created a bad habit. You’re never going to get them out of your bed, which is completely untrue. And I already talked about this, right? The path to true independence comes from a deep and abiding dependence on a caregiver. The more we lean into that need for connection, the more we lean in, wow.

the more we lean into that need of our presence, the easier it’s going to be for them to separate. And so if co -sleeping is working for you, there is no reason you need to stop. And I just wanted to, I earmarked a page in safe infant sleep by Dr. James McKenna, and I’m going to read this to you. He says, some people confuse an infant’s willingness to soothe him or herself back to sleep as a sign of independence, autonomy, or confidence. In reality,

lifelong self -sufficiency has absolutely nothing to do with the age at which infants or toddlers put themselves back to sleep without a parent or loved one. Studies by psychologists Merrick Keller and Wendy Goldberg have shown that children who routinely sleep with their parents actually become more independent socially and psychologically. Contrary to the popular belief that solitary sleep produces confident and secure children,

while co -sleeping infants will grow to be clingy and overly dependent, co -sleeping toddlers are actually able to be alone and solve problems on their own better than solitary sleepers. And this was a study done by Merritt Keller and Wendy Goldberg. In this research, and I’m continuing to read from the book, in this research, Keller and Goldberg carefully defined what they mean by independence.

And with this definition, they provide us with a solid starting point for further examination. When compared to solitary sleeping children, the co -sleeping children in their sample tended to make friends more easily, could initiate problem solving more independently, and could be by themselves with less stress. Other studies have shown that co -sleeping children are significantly less likely to throw temper tantrums. Across cultural comparison of Norwegian children,

Brittni (20:42.137)

and I think it’s Sami children, indigenous to Norway and Sweden, challenges the belief that solitary sleep is positively correlated with independence. More Sami, and if I’m pronouncing that wrong, I’m sorry, children, slept with their parents than Norwegian children, yet Sami children were observed to be significantly less demanding of their parents’ attention during play than their Norwegian counterparts.

So this is, I mean, huge, right? Because we’re so often told, if you let them in your bed, you’ll never get them out, or they’re never, they’re always going to rely on you. They’re never going to sleep independently, or they’re going to be clingy. We have science here now to show us that co -sleeping does not lead to clingier children. Co -sleeping can actually lead to more self -reliant, independent social.

Now let me stop here and say that if your child sleeps in a crib, I’m not saying that they’re going to have an insecure attachment or they’re not independent, right? It just means that we need to understand that by co -sleeping, we are not hindering our child. Now let me stop here and say that if your child has expressed an interest in having their own sleep space and you have the space and room to do so, like if you only have a one bedroom apartment and it’s just really not a…

Now let me stop here and say that if your child has expressed an interest in having their own sleep space and you have the space and room to do so, like if you only have a one -bedroom apartment and it’s just really not a possibility for them to have their own sleep space right now, that’s okay. You can tell them, hey I know you really want this. As soon as we can make it happen we’re going to, but it’s just not an option in our home right now. But if you have the space to do it and your children is showing that interest,

then I would absolutely follow their lead and give them that chance to express their autonomy, express their independence. Yes, absolutely, I would follow that need. There, I do think we could be hindering them if we’re keeping them in our sleep space. And there’s not a valid reason, right? Like if there’s not, if we don’t have the space for it, that’s a valid reason. But if we do have the space, if they have their own room and they’re ready, or they want to put a bed in your room, but on the floor away from you,

Brittni (22:52.319)

I would really lean into that because that’s them expressing their independence and they’re trying to take steps towards that independence. I’ll tell you, Lila like three times in her life has said she wanted her own bed. So I set up a little floor bed right next to my bed. She slept in it for like one night and then ended up back in my bed. But every time she shows the interest, I support that because I want her to know, hey, this is, you get to decide, right? Now, if it comes to a place where I have decided that it no longer works for us, then I’ll make a pair.

it led change in a gentle and loving way. So all of this to say that if co -sleeping is working for you, if your child is still wanting to co -sleep and it’s not a problem in your home, you don’t need to stop for fear that you’re going to create a clingy child because now we have scientific research to show the opposite, right? Now, if co -sleeping doesn’t work for you and you’re ready for it to stop, you can absolutely make, take steps.

to make that a reality in your home. And you don’t need to lock your child in their room, right? You don’t need to leave them to cry it out. We wanna do it in a gentle and loving way. And we want to make sure that they feel safe and secure in their sleep space. So those are the big ones that, those were the most common that came up when I asked like, what is some sleep advice that you’ve gotten for your toddler? And as we can see, they’re all based in separation and unresponsiveness.

we know if we want sleep to be easier, they need to know that they’re safe. They need to know that we will be there for them. And so all of these things go against who toddlers are and what they actually need. They’re attachment seeking creatures. You and I are attachment seeking creatures. That’s who we are as human beings. Like in, what is it in Japan or China? You can pay somebody to snuggle you or hug you, right? Like people need, we need that connection.

to people. And so we don’t need to be taking it away from our children to get to our sleep goals. And so my parting words to you are kind of wrapping up for you is you don’t need to lock your child in their room. You don’t need to let them cry it out. You don’t need to stop co -sleeping if it’s working for your family. You need to do what works best in your home. And if you’re at a place where things don’t feel sustainable,

Brittni (25:17.471)

If you’re at a place where maybe you do wanna stop co -sleeping or maybe you are trying to get longer stretches of sleep because it’s just not feeling sustainable and you have a toddler, you can make changes in a loving and gentle way. You don’t need to resort to anything that’s going to be unresponsive to your child or promote separation. You can lean into what your child needs, who they are, where they’re at, while still making changes in a way.

that honors and respects them. And if you need help doing this, I would love to work one -on -one with you. My toddler course is just a few weeks away from launching, so you still have time to join the wait list. Joining the wait list gets you $50 off and also the chance to join a live and intimate toddler sleep Q &A with me. Only the first 25 purchasers of the course will get access to that. So.

If you are needing help with your toddler sleep and you do not want to do any of these ludicrous things, but you’re needing to make changes, you’re needing more sleep, join the wait list for the toddler course or like I said, let’s work together. I will list the information below for joining the wait list so you can check it out. But I want you to know that just because you’ve chosen not to sleep train.

It doesn’t mean now you have to sleep trained. You definitely don’t. But it also doesn’t mean just kind of like taking a wait and see approach if you’re at a place where something is no longer feeling sustainable. I’m wishing you a very beautiful day and I hope wherever you are, it’s a warm day. Like I said, as I started the episode, it’s cold and gray here right now. I know if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, you’re actually going into your winter, but.

I’m just going to be hopeful and say wherever you’re listening, I hope you get some sunshine today. I will see you next week. Have a great day.

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