I’ve got several friends these days who are soon to be mothers. I might have had the kids a little younger than most of my friends I guess!
Before Azita was born, four and a half years ago, I hadn’t looked into any philosophies or ideas of thought on how babies sleep or the baby’s attachment to the mother or anything. I just kind of winged it.
You could say I follow an attachment parenting philosophy, certainly more than the other methods out there. I have huge issues with things like Babywise, the Pearls, the Ferber method. Although I should note that I’ve read that even Dr. Ferber himself has said parents took his ideas way too far and not the way he intended it.
I would like to think though, that if I followed any parenting philosophy, it would be the follow-your-insinct or the go-with-your-heart model of parenting.
I don’t do things to my children that I wouldn’t want done to me and I don’t do things that feel wrong, inside. Part of the problem I have with letting a kid cry it out is that the mothers often say it was very difficult to do. One mom I know said her husband had to physically hold her back from going to her crying 3-month-old baby. Yes, the 3-month-old who doesn’t have the capacity to understand what is happening to him and why– just that he knows the smell and warmth of the one person who makes him feel complete, is not there for him.
If something feels so wrong to a mother she needs to be held back, then I don’t think its the right choice for her or her baby.
On some occassions, I think there are babies that work just fine being put down drowsy in their beds and sleep securely and confidently that way. I had a friend who did not let her kid cry and she slept for 12 hours solidly at night by 6 months. That is great for her.
What I take issue with is telling mothers, to the detriment of their baby’s health and attachment, that this is a goal that should and can be reached.
Babies are born with different personalities. They are individuals. Even as adults, we fall asleep differently– some watch TV, some read, some do yoga, some need quiet, some need white noise. Why do we impose things upon our babies– rigidity– that we do not impose upon ourselves?
I’ve heard the idea that people who bring their babies into bed with them do it to fulfill their own needs. I’ve also heard that idea expressed about toddler nursing. I’ve heard it expressed about holding a baby while they sleep. Not to offend anyone, but I find it kind of absurd. Ada needed to be held to sleep. Azita did not. Azita slept in a co-sleeper by the bed until 6 or 7 months when she began teething, but could be easily moved out of the bed until 4 or 5 am after falling asleep.
I wanted nothing more than to put Ada down while she napped, but that wasn’t what she needed. People, of course, told me that if I don’t put her down she’ll never be able to sleep on her own. And of course, by “never” they mean the first year or so, because we all know she isn’t going to be 16 and want to sleep with her mother. Around 6 months old, Ada would begin to kick and squirm after rocking to sleep and want to be laid down– of her own volition. She changed when she was ready.
If her tummy hurts or she is sick, she might need to be held to rest well and my arms are always open.
I think a lot of new moms that will be continuing to work are attracting to the sleeping training ideas. They are, naturally, worried about getting enough sleep and functioning at work. I just wish that more of them realized working, breastfeeding, a more attached parenting style– none of these things mean you won’t get enough sleep. You just need the information that will help you in your unique situation, with your schedule and your baby.
Azita was my working mom baby. She slept in her swing while my sister watched her and I was at work, and napped well on her own. She nursed to sleep. Babies will adapt— those who say her nursing to sleep would made it difficult for me to leave her with a babysitter weren’t correct for our situation either. She knew I was there to give her what she needed when I was around. And when she was with my sister, she coped. But I refused to make my babies cope to being without what they needed from me I was in the house. I found as a working mom I got much more sleep nursing Azita at night and letting her sense my closeness as she slept.
There are a lot of different degrees of sleep training and co-sleeping (which is defined as the infant in the room, not necessarily the same bed as the mother). There are ways to do both that are unsafe for the baby. I was very careful about the way the children slept with us, especially when they were young.
This article has some of the benefits and risks of co-sleeping:
An article on crying-it-out: