A 5 month old wants to be held to sleep, and will cry hard if you put her down even for 1 min. She's clearly unhappy when not being held to sleep. Assuming no physical illness, should we just keep holding her to keep her happy, or put her down for some version of sleep training, and therefore sacrifice her happiness for physical health (better sleeping habits, self-soothing, more solid sleep in the long run).
This is too complex for a quick yes/no either/or answer. I would suggest:
- Try some kind of sleep training (e.g. the variant where you let them cry for a few minutes, then hold them for a few minutes, then let them cry for a bit longer before going to them again and so on) for a few days.
- If it worked, great, you're done. If it does work, according to the book I have, it will work within a few days.
- If it does not work, then think long and hard about whether this kind of training is correct for this person. I have experience with this with multiple children, and it worked a charm with some of them (and didn't hurt long-term either), and did not work at all with others. Hint: if they turn blue in the face from crying, then it just might not be the right tool.
Everybody will learn sleeping at some point, it's just body stuff. The important thing with babies is to make them feel that they can trust their parents, that they feel loved, appreciated and all that. The word in German would be "Urvertrauen", and I have no idea how to translate that. That is important.
I personally, after experience, could not care less about a baby not being able to sleep without the parents. That is just the parents' problems (be it stress or logistics), not the baby's, and most things the parents do, in my opinion, are more designed to get themselves out of the conundrum, not to do much for the baby. Now, don't get me wrong, I do not say it is easy for the parents, or anything like that. But one thing it is not, and that is the baby's "fault".
In the long term, every tiny bit of positive relationship you have with the child will pay back thousand times, so staying with the child is just an investment here.
A 1.5 year old wants to drink Coca cola all the time and will cry like no tomorrow if you don't give her a bottle of coke 3 times a day. Should we keep her happy by feeding her coke, or keep her healthy by rejecting her demand and thus keeping her angry and sad.
Completely clear: drinking the coke will make the baby ill, period, in every fashion possible (teeth, stomach, brain=coffeine); it will foster sugar dependance, wreak havoc with their insuline circle and all that good stuff (it's poison for adolescents and adults as well, you know). The short-term enjoyment is absolutely unimportant and immaterial.