On helping your baby to sleep

Today I had a thought about the line I often hear, that “babies will never learn to sleep on their own if their parents help them”. It is often trotted out as an argument for leaving them to cry themselves to sleep on their own rather than feeding, rocking, stroking or otherwise ‘parenting’ them to sleep. But it occurred to me that when my little boy is trying to sit up, as he is trying to do at the moment, I don’t shut him in a room on the floor and wait for him to do it himself, ignoring him if he cries for help when he’s fallen over (or even reassuring him at arbitrary intervals). I sit with him, hold him, support him, catch him as he wobbles, and it never occurs to me to doubt that he will learn this developmental step all by himself without me having to ‘teach’ him it. So why shouldn’t we view babies learning to sleep well in the same way?

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7 Responses to On helping your baby to sleep

  1. bianca bean says:

    I toooootally had to teach Bean to sleep. We did the “whatever it takes” approach (no crying it out, but we would let him fuss sometimes for 5-10 miuntes here and there if he seemed to need it to wind down). I am deliriously happy to report that he started sleeping through the night, I’m talking about 10-12 hours on his own, as of 8.5 months old. I heard every crazy thing you can imagine about what I was doing wrong up until that point. I maintained that he just needed my help. He got it, and bed is now a happy, comfortable place for him rather than a place of isolation and punishment.
    Check out Ask Moxie or blue milk for some outstanding points of view that support the post you have written here.

  2. pluckymama says:

    but eventually you do need to let your kid sit on his own and fall over backwards a few times so they know that falling over backwards hurts. I’m so glad I let my kid cry himself to sleep. Took no time and now he plays in his crib before going to sleep. I’ll do it with my next one too once he’s past 3 months old. It really doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience. But if you can’t stand to do it then don’t. It’s harmless either way so you don’t need to justify yourself for not doing it.

  3. gingerninja says:

    Totally agree Meg. Personally I’m not sure that ‘letting’ them fall over encourages them to sit. They do it when they’re developmentally ready. I am of the same oppinion about sleep. You can encourage them but sooner or later they’ll do it on their own.

  4. bianca bean says:

    P.S. Oh and don’t listen to anyone but your inner voice, not even well-wishers like us! I wish I had followed my instincts sooner instead of trying in vain to follow the advice of “experts” and others. Every child is unique, my friends with multiples will attest to that, and only you know what is best for you and your babe. Bean started sleeping better at 6.5 months, and sleeping great at 8.5. It was tough sometimes but we got through and I feel good about how *we* did it. Best to you on your journey.

  5. pluckymama says:

    it doesn’t encourage them to sit but I’m not the type to want to lovingly sit there behind my kid and catch them all the time. So I let him fall over a few times, doesn’t hardly hurt and it definitely wont kill him and voila, no need to sit behind them any more. Of course it’s after he’s well able to sit on his own but he just doesn’t know the consequence of falling over backwards because there’s always been something soft to catch him.

  6. megbasket says:

    Pluckymama, it’s good to hear different opinions on this — we all want the best for our babies — but my point is that even if you do catch your baby all the time, he will still learn to sit, there aren’t any grown adults in the world lying around because they never learned to sit up cause their parents didn’t let them fall. Likewise I know that even if I never leave my Chops to cry, he won’t need me to shush him to sleep when he’s 30. He needs it now ’cause he’s just a baby and I don’t mind doing it, even if letting him cry would get me more sleep sooner. Just my choice.

    I love the pics of your boys on your blog btw, so adorable!

  7. pluckymama says:

    ya and I think that’s totally fine. I’m all for parents doing what they feel is best for themselves and their babies. I’m just not the type that doesn’t mind :). I hope you didn’t think I was coming down on your ideas. Neither of our kids is going to have any sorts of problems in life from either method, it’s just what each person is comfortable with.

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