The million-dollar question!
But this article tells us why sleeping through the night might be unrealistic and perhaps not even ideal: This is Why Your Baby Doesn’t Sleep Through The Night
Some parents won’t like this…but it’s super important for new parents to read.
From the article: “Actually, biologically [waking up at night is] a big advantage because they will have more attention from their two primary caregivers at that time of day than at any other, because there are fewer distractions. From a biological point of view what the baby is doing is completely normal and sensible. It just doesn’t fit in with our 21st-century expectations.”
I know we aren’t “supposed to” make anyone feel badly about their parenting. But if we know something is bad for our babies, shouldn’t we know? Shouldn’t we at least have both sides of a story so we can make educated decisions?
The article says that crying it out stresses our babies…
From the article: “A 2011 study found that babies do eventually learn to stop crying when left to settle themselves through “sleep training” or “controlled crying”. But while this decreased the stress levels of parents in the study, the level of stress in the babies went up.”
I have a little guilt creeping up as I read more about the effects of crying it out. I feel a little sad that we tried it with Jake when he was waking up every 90 minutes at 12 months old – I just wanted to have 2 or 3 hours to sleep! But the truth is, it felt wrong, my heart ached. We extended his wakeup time a bit and then I never did it again. It’s when I learned to trust my instincts more.
Perhaps you let your kids cry it out. Hey, we do the best we can at the time, and with the information we have available to us. As I felt this guilt and sadness, I just sat with it. I allowed the feelings to move through me and appreciated that I was doing my best. I remind myself that I love and accept myself fully even when I make choices that I later have second thoughts about. I forgive myself. If you are having any feelings of guilt or sadness because you let your child CIO, try to sit with the feelings instead of stuffing them down or rationalizing them or distracting yourself.
…and that co-sleeping is good for them.
From the article: “The idea that sharing a sleep surface with your baby is in anyway wrong, abnormal or peculiar is just nonsense,” Fleming says. “Most people in the world would see that view as bizarre – 90% of the human infants on this planet sleep that way every night and over the half a million years of human evolution that’s been the norm.”
Since I think people seem hesitant to admit it, I will just put it out there that our kids slept with us (in our bed or a co-sleeper attached to our bed) full time for the first 9 months and for varying amounts of each night since then. I loved having my babies physically close to me as much as possible. Even now, at 11 and 12, they sometimes need extra TLC.
In all honestly, I’m not sure if we would have gone that route, however, if our oldest wasn’t a 4 lb. 12 oz. preemie. Our Yale doctors (I emphasize Yale because they were far from alternative docs) encouraged co-sleeping, kangaroo care (skin to skin contact), and feeding on demand. So progressive of them!
Lucky us! Lucky him! Lucky second kid who wasn’t a preemie but still got to co-sleep!
Since I care so deeply about parent/child bonding and the emotional health of our children and their awesome parents, this article reminds me how important it is that we are intentional and conscious about our behaviors AND that we get the support we need when something is (temporarily) too much for us to handle (for example, too many sleepless nights). It does not elude me that if we are exhausted we can’t be the best parents for them. But if we let them cry it out, it’s not ideal for the baby. So many parenting decisions are a delicate balance between taking care of ourselves and taking care of our children.
Okay, so come on, spill the beans, did your kids sleep with you? Tell us in the comments 🙂