I’ve seen lots of comments recently about baby sleeping ( I say recently but could have written always as of course it’s an ongoing topic of debate)In the last week alone I’ve read of the horrors of controlled crying – the author actually says using a cot is practically barbaric.
And all I can say is piss off.
Ok I can say a bit more – and will try and stay non shouty as it’s a topic close to my heart knowing the pain of not sleeping for more than 3 hours at a stretch for a good year. This damages you physically and mentally (I don’t need to say it here but I will – of course it was all worth it and I wouldn’t change it for the world).
The last article I read accused cots of being unnatural and had lots of cuddly photos of cute animals and their furry babies huddled in close to sleep. What it didn’t mention is that in a few days these furry babies are left to fend for themselves. They are attached to their parents so closely but for such a short period of time – us humans however are in it for the long time (and the good times)
There’s enough reasons us parents beat ourselves up without subscribing to this shit that where you choose to let your little one sleep could be traumatising them.
Babies need to learn a lot of things and it’s my opinion sleep is one of them. As long as it’s done correctly it’s not going to traumatise your little one for life (you will be the one more likely to have lasting mental scars!) crying does not always equal trauma. Babies have one way to express themselves – they can’t sit you down with a cup of tea and let you know what’s getting them down. They have one way to express sadness, frustration, confusion and anger and I’m pretty sure it’s this last one that is manifesting when you are trying to let them know it’s time for sleep – not play or food.
When our first boy was 10 months old he was still waking every few hours for comfort and help getting back to sleep. He was tired – I was tired – and everyone was suffering. It was my own mum who explained this to me – babies need us to be strong and guide them. Running in 5 times a night to feed baby back to sleep was not helping anyone and needed to stop. I was never under any illusion that what my baby was doing now would still be the case when he was at school – but a close friend warned me of her friend who had a 5 year old still waking through the night whose parents wished they had not relied on their child growing out of their sleep problems.
So after lots of research and soul searching we decided to try a bit of controlled crying to see how he would react. He reacted angrily. It helped that my husband had a natural propensity towards this method – somehow I would hear only the worst in every cry that came from baby’s room whilst hubby seemed to recognise that he was throwing a wobbly as he was not getting what he wanted RIGHT NOW!
My mum who was my rock during this process explained it to me thus – if he had words he be using some gutter ones to you right now! His tears are not tears of distress, anxiety, pain, long lasting trauma. He’s pissed off at you and this is his only way to express it. The method we used meant going in to his room every few minutes until he settled himself back to sleep so there was no way he could feel abandoned – and after about a week of noisy and exhausting nights he got it. Since then he’s slept 11 hours a night.
Babies are smart. They just need guidance. One of the fundamental premises for sleep training though is that baby must be well. We had to postpone it several times due to head colds, teething, vaccinations etc but you’ll know when the time is right if you choose to try it. Also I truly believe a parent knows their child’s cry. There is a big difference between an angry/frustrated cry and a distressed/in pain cry. The second, of course, should be avoided at all costs.
Our second baby is now almost 5 months old and despite my assurances to myself during pregnancy that this one would be a sleeper he most certainly is not. He has co slept since day one as that is the only way I felt I could get enough sleep in the early days to survive the adjustment to 2 under 2. But now none of us are getting any sleep – he fidgets, we wake him with our movements and talking, he cries for boob to get back to sleep and gets it so we don’t wake the toddler. But it’s now 5am and I’m rocking him back to sleep in his pushchair as he’s had enough milk but is still tired. He has no idea how to settle himself and he needs to learn.
I also have to change his nappy and feed him with a spoon but no one would suggest I continue to do this until he’s 5. I will teach him to use the toilet and to feed himself and although each new skill will be him needing me a little less I will take solace in knowing I’m giving him independence. Teaching a baby to sleep will not, in my opinion, lead to a clingy and anxiety filled adult. It will lead to my boys having the skills to lead their own lives knowing that their mum is never far away and will always do what’s best for them even when it’s the hardest thing in the world. Yes I could let them sleep in my bed but that would be the easy way out for me to make my life easier and not what is right for them.** And making the hard choices is what this parenting lark is all about right?
**this of course is all my opinion and experience and these words are true for our babies and what is best for them – of course this won’t be for everyone and some people will bed share as long as they can – the choice is yours!