Watch out! I’m on a tirade!
I cringe whenever someone asks me, “How’s the baby sleeping?” or “Does he sleep through the night yet?” You know, cause that’s a sign of genius in my infant or proof that I’m a good mother or something? Because I’m a Nice Person, I usually just say, “Oh, fine!” If people press me for sleep details, I do go on to say that Timothy sleeps in the bed with us in order to facilitate night nursing.
About nine times out of ten, this gets me strange looks and I start to wonder if the goat horns I had removed last year are starting to grow back.
Did we co-sleep with the other boys? Yes and no. Corey–no. Aiden–a little of both. Simon–yes. Of course, we had a bassinet in the room with the older boys but they graduated to the crib when all the mainstream parenting magazines told me to. I also started solids early, was convinced they didn’t need to nurse at night, and used disposable diapers.
So if you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning, you’ll know that the whole attachment parenting thing was a new concept for me when I got knocked up with Simon. It started with my researching cloth diapers and because the internet is so powerful, it led me on my hunt to some sites like mothering.com where women of a whole different tribe exist to support one another in this crazy thing called “attachment parenting”. It was through these sites, LLL meetings, and my freakishly intense research skills that I learned everything I ever wanted to know and more about breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapers, and how much I probably messed up Corey as a baby.
Really, though, I think the most important thing I learned is that I need to parent by instinct and not how Parenting magazine or Super Nanny tell me to. I learned with Simon that there is no such thing as routine if you are a stay-at-home-mom. Unless you are never, EVER going to leave the house or unless you are going to adhere to a very strict leaving-the-house-schedule, YOU will need to be adaptable. Babies are flexible! And portable! It might be a pain in the butt to have an appointment at what you think is your baby’s naptime, but you know what? Your baby will sleep when he is tired. He might be a grump if he doesn’t sleep exactly at 2:00, but the good news is that he’s not going to hold it against you next week or when he’s in therapy thirty years from now.
Direct quotes from Dr. Sears (I’ve bolded what I think are the most important points):
- Babies need to be parented to sleep, not just put to sleep. Some babies can be put down while drowsy yet still awake and drift [while] others need parental help by being rocked or nursed to sleep.
- Some babies need help getting back to sleep.
- Encouraging a baby to sleep too deeply, too soon, may not be in the best survival or developmental interest of the baby. This is why new parents, vulnerable to sleep trainers’ claims of getting their baby to sleep through the night, should not feel pressured to get their baby to sleep too long, too deeply, too soon.
- An important fact for you to remember is that your baby’s sleep habits are more a reflection of your baby’s temperament rather than your style of nighttime parenting. And keep in mind that other parents usually exaggerate how long their baby sleeps, as if this were a badge of good parenting, which it isn’t. It’s not your fault baby wakes up.
Sleep training bothers me. Plain and simple. Having a sleep routine is great. I encourage parents to develop one for the simple fact that it can create a pleasant and peaceful evening if done right. But if your bedtime routine is one that always ends in tears, something’s wrong. I know I wouldn’t want to cry myself to sleep every night. Sure, your baby will “eventually” stop crying, but that’s because he or she will have given up. Crying is a baby’s only form of communication. It’s not like he can say,
“Hey mom, I’m really not sleepy right now and I’d like to cuddle for just a little longer and maybe practice rolling over a few more times.”
Down the road, sure, you can get frustrated when your six-year-old keeps coming out of his room to get drinks of water, extra kisses, or to ask if you “renember” when Simon puked on the floor (half a year ago). Tonight, I’m going to forgo frustration and allow Timothy to practice blowing raspberries all night long. It’s not worth the fight, and he’s too cute to be angry with anyway.