A Sleeping Dylan, Four Days Old
I felt like I wanted to write this post a couple of months back, when I read several comments left on another blog, discussing co-sleeping V's crying-it-out. I wish to now offer it here, plus discuss the approach I have used with all of my children. We do not all have to use the same approach in order to have healthy, happy, children.
Often the crying-it-out method is seen as the only alternative to co-sleeping. I strongly disagree with this view. Although personally, I would condemn any parent who leaves their child to scream themselves to sleep; we must all be careful of simply assuming that a mother who doesn't co-sleep, is hard-hearted and is guilty of depriving her precious baby of cuddles and happiness! I have not practised co-sleeping with any of my children (except in times of illness) and yet my children have never had to cry-it-out! Though that is not to say that I would never co-sleep with any future babies; because I actually think I would like to try it, and I believe that it may be better for baby.
However, I did want to share the approach that we have used in the past...
During the first 2-4 weeks of having a newborn, pretty much anything goes in our home. For the first six months of our babies first year, we keep them in a basket/crib next to our bed. After 2-4 weeks I will slowly begin to get the baby used to being settled, ready for sleep at scheduled times (when they would naturally be starting to get sleepy), by sitting in a darkened room whilst being fed. During this time I do not make loud animated sounds, indicating awake/play time but I may talk or sing quietly. When baby is sound asleep I will transfer him/her to the basket/crib. Of course if the baby actually cries out, (not simply makes noises during sleep) I will pick him/her up and offer cuddles again. This is done over a period of a few weeks, wherein the baby will come to see that he/she is safe whilst asleep and not fuss when transferred to the crib. I will leave the room quietly once the baby is sleeping soundly in his/her crib.
At this point I want to stress the following:
- I would never attempt any of the above/below if the baby is sick or suffering from colic.
- The baby would already have had all of his/her needs met; fed, changed, burped...etc.
- I do not let the baby become over-tired, this will only cause him/her to become fussy and resist sleep.
- If the baby refuses sleep, I don't beat myself up about it; I would comfort the baby and simply try again at the next nap time. Allowing yourself to become stressed will only add the the babies agitation.
Following that, over another few weeks, I will slowly begin to get baby used to being put into the crib whilst only just asleep; before he/she is in a deep sleep. Again if the baby cries out, I will soothe him/her with quiet cuddles. After baby is happy with this, I will begin to leave the room before the baby is asleep. In my experience, this stage is usually reached by about 6 months of age. I stay on the other side of the door in case I am needed for a few minutes, and then I go about my usual business with a baby monitor close, so I can hear if the baby cries out (we have a large house with concrete floors on both levels, with solid wooden doors, so a baby monitor is necessary!) Some ladies might think that at this stage the baby will kick, scream and cry because I have left the room...but mine never have! It is my belief that they feel so secure in the gentle way they have been "trained" to sleep, that me leaving the room doesn't bother them at all at that stage.
So yes, in using this slow method of "sleep training" my babies have all been happy to fall asleep alone by about 6 months of age. This is such a blessing for me and them.
I hope that for some ladies reading this post has been informative, in that those of us who don't co-sleep are not all simply leaving our children to scream for hours on end! There are other kind and loving ways, in which we help our children to fall asleep. :)