Recently baby training has been a hot topic in the blogosphere. PhD in Parenting did a bit on how she feels cry it out methods are unnecesarily cruel. That resulted in a pretty interesting comments section. Thr Feminist Breeder heartily disagreed with the post and I'm sure she'll be posting on the subject in the coming days. Emily Jones made her own piece on the subject in which she calls for a middle ground.
The whole idea of baby training befuddles and annoys me. I've posted on my ideas about sleep training before. It seems to me that when people decide they need to "teach" their babies to sleep a certain way, or feed them on a certain schedule, they do so out of a fear that not doing so will put them outside of the cultural norm. Now, for those parents who have a baby that wakes up every hour on the hour at night, something definately has to change, but does it have to involve abandoning the child to cry alone in the dark? It seems like there may be an underlying cause in those situations that would be better dealt with by other means than by letting baby cry.
I can't give advice to anyone. I'm incredibly new at this. All I know is what has worked for us. I've expressed before that it seems counter productive to put a wholly dependent creature as far away as possible from its caretaker. It seems even more asinine for the caretaker to resent having to "go the distance" to take care of said helpless being. Why not instead put the helpless being as close as possible to the caretaker so the caretaker has to do less work to take care of helpless creature? Brilliant!
We co-sleep. We do not sleep share because the Birdie just isn't into it, however, its damn handy to have her 18 inches away in her crib when she wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to eat. Gasp!
You mean you have a baby that doesn't sleep through the night? You let your baby sleep in your room?!?
Yeah. And I'm cool with that. We do have a schedule. Birdie goes to bed around 9 p.m. I nurse her, burp her, change her, and put her in the crib. I turn out the light and leave the room. She generally goes right to sleep. Occasionally she'll fuss. I can tell the difference between "I'm a crabby baby that can't quite regulate myself and I just need to go to sleep." and "This is freaking me out and I need my mommy or daddy NOW." If its the former, I let her go and in less than a minute or two (literally) she's out. If its the latter, then I go get her, because she obviously needs a little more love before she's ready to go to sleep. More often than not she sleeps until we're in there making noise and getting ready for bed. I nurse her once more before DH and I hit the sack then she sleeps until 4:30 a.m. when she needs to eat again. She goes right back to sleep and we all get up at 7 a.m. The whole process feels really workable and at no time have we ever let her "cry it out." I think because we haven't done that, she's more apt to go to bed willingly. Its not scary for her. We don't do the family bed because it just hasn't worked for us, though I do bring her into our bed for a good snuggle before everyone has to get up for the day. Sometimes she and I end up sleeping for a little while longer. I love it.
The other night we went to a birthday party. My friend's mom was there. She and I were talking babies and she said, "Let me tell you Mary, whatever you do, don't get that baby started on sleeping with you." She then proceeded to tell me about how she had a friend whose five-year-old still slept with them and how she thought that was weird. I said something about how when we were kids, if one of us got scared or something we would hop in bed with our parents or grandparents. In the next sentence she started to tell me about how her twelve-year-old son sleeps with her on occasion.
Am I missing something?
How is it not ok for a baby or a five-year-old to sleep with their parents but its ok for a twelve-year-old? For me, I don't think there's anything wrong with any of those situations. People like to sleep with someone. We're social creatures. Sleep was traditionally a social event. Its the western culture that has artificially altered our sleep patterns. Baby sleep trainers are designed to take our little creatures that evolution has designed to survive and make them conform to a system that works contraty to biology.
I feel the same way about baby trainers that focus on feeding schedules. We feed on cue, not on demand. How dare that baby DEMAND nourishment? The nerve! When Birdie is hungry she lets me know and I feed her. What am I supposed to do? Say "No dearie, you just ate an hour ago, so what if your tummy is tiny and breast milk digests easily, you have to wait another hour!" It just seems stupid. I eat when I'm hungry. If I get hungry an hour before lunch, then I have my lunch an hour early. Birdie does her share of comfort nursing but as a mother I can't figure out why you would want to miss out on that. If she's been having a tough day we might spend the majority of our time nursing. I don't get anything done during that time, except for nourishing, nurturing, and loving a sweet baby. What a chore!
I don't feel like what I'm doing is creating a demanding child. If I'm busy and Birdie starts fussing, I can usually just tell her "Mommy's busy I'll be there in a moment" and that chills her out long enough for me to get to a stopping point. Cooperation people! I don't know many other parents of an infant that can just put their baby in a crib to sleep and not have a bunch of crying and craziness. We've never given her a reason to cry at length, so she doesn't. I've had a few people tell me that we hold her too much but they don't live in my house so its not a big deal to me.
My little Birdie is only going to be this little once. Every day we get farther and farther away from the time when I could wholly contain her in my body. The happier she is the happier I am. The happier I am the happier she is. We are a symbiotic pair. I refuse to spend my time making her miserable just so I get an extra minute or two a day to spend on doing housework that I hate or regaining the thirty minutes of sleep that I miss out on when she wakes up to eat and snuggle at 4:30 a.m.