We love sleep. We love our baby. We love sleeping with our baby. I don’t sleep with my baby because I concede to the fact that we all sleep better that way. I sleep with him because I love sleeping with him. There, I said it. Who on earth wouldn’t want to fall asleep next to that little face? I love breast-sleeping. We love bedsharing. We are not sleep training people. When the baby cries we attend to him, anytime and every time. It’s that simple. There is no crying it out in this household.
I see so many new parents posting on social media wondering why their babies can’t be left along or go to sleep like adults do. It’s a matter of expectation. We gave up even before we started. By that I mean we have never even attempted to have Owen sleep on his own. I just assumed that a baby will act like a baby, fully dependent on his caregiver, 24/7. I made sure we were on the same page about that long before the baby came. I think that alone has saved our sanity. I don’t know why anyone would expect differently. Have there been too many commercials and hype from the fancy crib/bouncer/mamaroo companies showing babies sleeping peacefully on one of their mom-replacement products? Like how formula companies have convinced a whole generation that their products are better than breastmilk? I looked at a lot of baby products while I was pregnant but ended up not buying anything except some clothes, mostly used, a change table and a car seat. Everything else I can provide: food, warmth, comfort, a secure place to rest. He was latched constantly for the first three months. Even now I often hold him for naps. But this is the easy time for never again in his life will I and I alone be able to meet all of his needs.
On most nights now we start bath around 7 and I try to get Owen to bed before 8. The process is a therapeutic one for me. On easy nights it is so calming to have him fall asleep while I sway to some soothing background music. On nights when the baby is tired and fussy I must refrain from becoming fussy myself. I discovered that when I slow down my breathing the baby settles as well. We find peace together. There is no separation.
Our pediatrician said we should put him to bed awake so he’ll learn to fall asleep on his own. It’s a convenient concept, set you baby down and walk away. Let babies learn to self sooth. I have unfortunately seen one too many footages of old Eastern European orphanages where babies were left to cry by themselves and later became non responsive to human interaction. It’s heartbreaking and devastating to watch. It might be a bit exaggerated to equate that with “crying it out” but I would rather not risk it. Studies have shown that babies don’t become quiet because they learned to self sooth. When left alone their stress level actually increase. They just stop vocalizing it because they’ve learned that no one responds to them. I believe independence at this stage is a developmental process that varies with each baby. It is not a taught or trained behavior. Everyone has it figured out by college.
Right now Owen is still attached, although he’s much more independent than before. He no longer needs to nurse for comfort constantly. We didn’t have to teach him that. He graduated from that all by himself. We just followed his cues. He still doesn’t like to sit or lay around by himself. We take turns holding him when he’s not napping. It is exhausting at times but we’re happy to do it. When the time is right Owen will learn to calm himself, to go to sleep alone and to process his thoughts and feelings. I have no doubt about it. For now he needs to feel secure, to continue to let his desires be known and to trust that we will respond to him.
In hiking people say HYOH or hike your own hike. The same idea apply to parenting. It is a personal thing. I don’t think what we do is the right way or the best way. All I know is that it works for us for now. When it no longer serves us we will be the first to change.
For anyone considering sleeping training I urge you to read these articles and follow your motherly instincts. No one knows your baby better than you do.