Shawn Johnson tried sleep training her baby by letting her cry, ‘but that’s so hard’

Us Magazine has a new interview with former Olympic gymnast, Shawn Johnson East. In the interviews we’ve covered with her over the past few years she’s always seemed very down-to-earth, especially about the insane culture over being a mom in the public eye. She’s only 28, which surprises me because I thought she was a little older than that since she comes across so well. Shawn and her husband, Andrew East, also 28, have a daughter Drew Hazel East, six months. We’ve seen Shawn talk about the fact that she got shamed by a lactation consultant for formula-feeding her baby (she now represents Enfamil) and we’ve also seen her get mommy-shamed for posting a video of her playing with her daughter at the beach. To Us, she said she doesn’t usually respond to the mommy shamers as that brings more bad behavior. She has a similar philosophy to parenting.

Would you respond to mom shamers?
I’m 99.9% of the time good at not responding, but I’m once in a while ‘come on.’ I’ve always been taught whatever you respond to, that’s what you’ll get more of. If you respond to good you’ll get good, if you respond to bad you’ll get bad.

Would you drink a bottle of wine after a long day?
We love wine, we love [to learn about] wine. We’ll have a glass of wine a night, which means maybe a bottle a night.

Would you let a baby cry it out?
We did sleep training where you let them cry a few minutes before you go in. We tried, but that’s so hard.

Would you have a mom meltdown in front of your kids
Yeah, sure. There’s something beautiful about explaining to your child human emotion and how you deal with it and what you go through, how you sort through it.

Do or don’t co-sleep
No, but I have friends who have. You do you, mama.

Would you give in to kids when they have a temper tantrum
Kids are smart and they know how to get what they want. If you reward them [when they show] good behavior they will learn that’s what they have to do to get what they want.

[From US Magazine]

For that last question above, whether to respond to kids having a tantrum, she went on to give a similar response to the first question about mommy shamers – ignore the bad behavior and don’t reward it. I found her really decent and level-headed overall. She’s not saying not to co-sleep with your kid, just that she doesn’t do it. She’s not saying to sleep train by letting your kid cry it out, or to respond to them immediately, just that she tried letting her daughter cry and it was hard. I couldn’t let my baby cry and would try to help him as soon as I could. It was really tough for me to hear him cry, but I probably did reinforce some of the bad behavior like she’s saying too. She’s practical and isn’t telling anyone her way is the best way, just that it worked for her. I wish more celebrities and internet personalities were like this, but it would make my job harder.

Look at this baby!!

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24 Responses to “Shawn Johnson tried sleep training her baby by letting her cry, ‘but that’s so hard’”

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  1. emmy says:

    I’m usually so against putting your childen on social media before they can consent but I’m a hypocrite because I follow her and love it. They seem so normal and their baby is just so cute.

    • Züri says:

      I love her Insta feed. It’s feel good and very real.

    • Miss America says:

      I’m torn too. I never post solo pics of my kids on social media just to be like “oh look at my cute kids”, but I’ll post a family photo at Christmas or on vacation or something. I do feel really bad for kids who’s parents put embarrassing stuff, like potty training accidents or the like, stuff that’s obvious it’d embarrass them if they had the awareness. But it doesn’t bother me when people put cute non-embarrassing photos of their kids on. The other thing that annoys me are people who say they want privacy for their kids but then post tons of photos of them, just without their faces showing (Kristen Cavallari).

  2. Ruby_Woo says:

    Those squishy legs are just too much! Made my day!!! :)

  3. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Everything about being a parent is hard. Believe it or not parents of wee ones, there will be a time in your future you’ll find it hard to even love them on certain given days lol! I was always mom shamed… from the 90s to maybe 2012ish? I shouldn’t have let my first kid suck his thumb. I shouldn’t have let my third kid have pacifiers. Definitely let infants cry it out. (Nope failed). Shouldn’t co-sleep. We did with all three. Shouldn’t feed formula. I started two of the boys after six and nine months of breastfeeding. I shouldn’t feed real food before one year. Riiight. I shouldn’t baby talk. Riiight. I should’ve potty trained earlier. (I let them and their singular readiness determine training times). I shouldn’t bribe. (They’re were called incentives lol). You should get your boys’ hair cut. And on and on and on. It’s quite unreal. I guess parenting my last kid when he was young during the aughts and a couple years after led me to enjoy being online alone. I quit all social media accounts. It’s great too because when I Google us, no pictures, no kids’ pictures, nothing. At some point, the masses need to mind their own business and practice looking in mirrors.

    • Megs says:

      Parent to 2 and 4 year olds and I’ve started telling new parents (if they ask), whatever works for your family is the best choice. I couldn’t sleep train, the boys sleep well at daycare, so so at home and you know what, that’s fine by me. We get decent sleep and I’m ok with my decision, you do you (so long as everyone is safe)

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        My oldest is 28. I also have 23yo and a 14yo. Each are healthy, happy and successful, well the 8th grader gets on my nerves. I’ve raised three kind, generous and loving boys. They’re smart and funny and can’t remember how or what I fed them or when I potty trained them. You know what they do remember? They remember sleeping in the big bed with mom and dad and millions of hugs and kisses. They remember love.

        I’m sure you’re much nicer about verbal intrusions. I was quite the expert at throwing back with a big ‘ole smile.

      • Eliza_ says:

        2yo and 6mos and I discovered I just don’t share. If people ask I tell, but I must look tense because no one says comments anymore (to my face).
        But yeah, being “bad” is all of us because everything contradicts so there is no perfect. So block out stupid comments. Do your best, keep them safe, fed, loved, and teach kindness. But yes some days will try you so hard you wonder where you went wrong in life.

  4. Jekelly says:

    Look at those chunky legs! What a cute baby!

  5. ItHappenedOneNight says:

    We didn’t sleep train, and I didn’t sleep for more than 2 hours at a time for 2 and a half years! We just had a non-sleeper. I couldn’t listen to him cry for me – like Shawn said, it was just too hard. But, as a result, I gained 40 lbs, became diabetic, had high blood pressure and suffered from depression that was nearly the end of me. I know WHY people sleep train. Would I do it again? Luckily, I don’t ever have to find out bc we’re happy with our one awesome kid, and we learned that we are both carriers for cystic fibrosis. But, looking back, it’s why I could NEVER judge another parent’s decision on how to raise their children. The way we did it did NOT work for our family, and paying the price for those 1st 2.5 years was brutal. That all said, my kid still turned out pretty awesome (as awesome as a spazzy, obnoxious 6-year old can be!)

  6. Lila says:

    Ahhhh those chonky legs! Too cute.

    I don’t have kids (maybe later, maybe never). I have some hypothetical ideas about choices I might make in child rearing. I’m sure if it actually came down to brass tacks, I would find not some things worked and some things were really wrong. I appreciate Shawn talking about how the reality of doing something can be a lot more difficult than the hypothetical. And she isn’t pushy about her choices, which is cool. That’s the kind of attitude I can get behind.

  7. Stacy Dresden says:

    I chose to sleep train (Cry It Out) my son at the pediatrician’s recommendation when he was about 9 mos or something like that. Little infants express needs by crying but as they get older, there can be behavioral habits established and rather than actually needing something, it’s more of a comfort thing. So I felt okay with sleep training.

  8. Ann says:

    My children are in their 20s now, but I remember doing the “5 minutes” thing once they were no longer tiny infants. It worked. Once you’re ready to let them “cry it out” for 5 minutes at 2 am, you go in after 5 minutes and pat them and soothe them with your voice and then you go back to bed. Over and over again. And after a few days, it works and they will sleep for several hours at a stretch. That being said, I’m so glad I don’t have to get up at 5 am anymore to a wide awake baby!

  9. Anna says:

    The number of people moving away from formal sleep training is growing…. despite the immense pressure to do some form of it with everyone asking “are they sleeping through the night yet?”. There is such insistence that you will somehow kill your baby if you sleep with them even if you practice safe bed-sharing (which is the biological norm). Actually, based on science, sleep is developmental. You can’t train a baby to sleep through the night as much as you can’t train a baby to walk or talk before they are ready. You can train them to not cry out for you if they are scared, thirsty or in need of reassurance, but they will still wake just the same. There is tons of research on it, but for some reason we still seem to be stuck in the rut of requiring babies to operate around our schedule instead of the one they have evolved into over millions of years.

    • Kat says:

      So judgy. “You can train them not to cry out for you…” That is the fear based, judgement filled way of not so subtly telling parents that they are neglecting their child if they sleep train. I agree with other posters who say to do what you feel is best for your family. That’s what I did and my sister did something completely different and all our children are great and nurtured and provided with all the love, support and care that they need.

      • Brusselslawyer says:

        I agree with you 100%. I think it is very short sighted to think that parents who sleep train are somehow cruel. NOBODY likes it when their babies cry-this is a biological fact. It triggers stress hormones in our brains. However, it is also a biological fact that you cannot exist without sleep and rest just as much as you cannot exist without food or drink. So this is what parents who have bad sleepers have to balance between. Cry it out does not mean you let a hungry or hurting baby cry. You make sure that they are fine and you try to accustom them to sleep in their crib. You check them and comfort them every 2-5 minutes. In my view they cry mostly because this is a big change from what they are used to (e.g sleeping on the breast and so on which is almost inevitable when they are born). When I sleeptrained my 10 months old she was more angry than anything else. Just a last thought-it is not for the convenience but the survival of the parents. Imagine that you are woken up each and every night every 40 minutes-you have to get out of the bed and comfort, breastfeed whatever. And this for 6-12 months. How can you work? How can you drive safely your baby to appointments? It is probably clear that I went through this already (twice) and I definitely had the idea before the babies were born that I would never let them cry. Well after such a grave sleep deprivation that I had suicidal thoughts, I realised that raising babies is a very long term work and you need to be there for them healthy and with enough energy to take care of them. And yes that includes that you actually need to sleep. Apologies for the long comment but I feel that there are a lot of misconceptions about this topic.

    • SK2 says:

      I love that ‘sleep training’ is becoming less of a thing – it’s now sort of seen as a strict and old fashioned thing to do for parents convenience rather than best for the child.
      In so many countries ( Japan, India and probably many more) it’s unheard of to ignore your baby crying for you … in the day or at night.
      I highly recommend the Facebook group “ The Beyond Sleep Training Project” – reassured me so much.

      • Anna says:

        I don’t think I have any misconceptions. I had two kids who only wanted to sleep close to me, so before were ready for their independence, I let them them sleep with me. Yes, I was sleep deprived, and my kids woke up frequently to be fed. BUT they are now completely independent sleepers and I don’t regret a single exhausting minute I spent up with them at night.

        What I DO wish is back then I would have filtered out the noise of people telling my why I’m doing my child a disservice by not training them to stop calling for me at night. I wish I could have known that they will eventually learn to sleep, I’m not damaging them by not training them to exist without me for long periods of time, my relationship with my husband will not suffer if I don’t sleep train…. these are all things people tell you when they find out you aren’t sleep training to justify their own choices. And yes, studies do say that both parents and children have high stress levels when the child is left to cry. The parent’s stress levels drop as soon as the baby learns to not cry, while the baby’s stress continues to spike to similar levels regardless of whether they are crying or not. Also, babies can not differentiate between “valid” needs – hunger, discomfort, etc. and alleged “non-valid” needs – fear, loneliness, etc., so if they are trained that a parent will not respond to them within a certain time frame, they simply won’t cry out no matter what is wrong.

        All that said, I do not judge people who sleep train. I mean, it’s still recommended by *some* paediatricians… despite all current evidence pointing to it being on no way beneficial for the baby.

  10. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    I don’t think I could ever let an infant cry and just ignore it. The only way they can communicate is to cry. So by crying, they are telling you they are wet, or hungry, or hot, or cold, or *something.” How can people just ignore that? I say this as a woman who never had children, so maybe it’s just ignorance on my part?

    • minime says:

      I totally understand you. I always thought I would do some kind of sleep training or have my kid sleeping in her room by six months… Jump now to the present with a 9 month old sleeping in her bed next to me so that I can easily comfort her during the night. I just discovered that I can’t ignore if my baby cries not even for five minutes. Furthermore, I also discovered that me and my partner really love that we can provide or baby with a fast comfort during the night by just cuddling her in our bed. We all sleep better like that. I was never judgy about parental choices (as long as there’s no harm done, what works for one child doesn’t necessary works for another one) but I had very precise opinions about what I would do as a mom, some of them due to what I know as I psychologist. But then there’s a little person there in front of you, totally dependent, who can’t communicate…oh man, it’s hard to only follow books :)

    • SK2 says:

      You are right. Once ( if you are planning to that is) you have your precious baby you feel such deep love and connection to them that the idea of ignoring their cry seems barbaric

  11. Zantasia says:

    She sounds lovely. And that baby is SO CUTE