Thoughts on sleep methods


First of all, I’d like to admit that I have removed a post on Ferber vs. Cosleeping. It was written very colloquially and wasn’t a thorough exposition on my thoughts on one method vs the other, but it has gotten more hits than any other single post on my blog, and I don’t relish the thought that anyone might have read it who was looking for serious advice on one vs the other. So I apologize for removing an archived post, but I thought it was best. In it’s place, I thought I’d leave this post of mine. On a message board that I have visited a few times, two posters asked the same thing:

I have a 9 1/2 month old DS and i have to rock him to sleep at night or else he wont go to sleep. and he has been waking up in the middle of the night and sleeping in our bed. Sometimes we are lucky enough to get him back in his own bed but most of the time he ends up sleeping with us, and i dont get any sleep because of it. What should i do, should i not put him in bed with me at all. my family tells me he will end up only wanting to sleep with us and not in his own bed. he moves all over the place or he wants me to put my arm around him when he sleep, other time he cuddles up as close as possible that i cant move without me worrying im gonna hurt him. i dont know what to do….

I am having the same problem! My son is 13 mths and has always slept in our bed. Even though we have a king sized bed he is a restless sleeper. I would love to put him in his crib. He is very long in height and kicks me most of the night. If anyone has a suggestions, I would be greatful.

And so I wrote back this response, which I thought I’d post here, as it sort of tells how my feelings on sleep methods have changed since some of my earlier posts.

From what I’ve read, the age that a child naturally grows out of wanting to sleep in your bed is often 3 or 4 years old. If you are not getting any sleep now, you probably won’t want to wait that long, so you may need to try other methods. You may wish to try adding an arm’s reach cosleeper to the side of the bed and seeing if he will sleep in that – he’ll be near you and close enough to touch, but a little more protected from your own movement and you from his. If baby is used to sleeping cuddled up against you, even putting him in the cosleeper might cause some distress at first, but with some patience baby would get used to it.

Another thing you might try is putting the crib in your room (if it fits! I live in a NYC apartment myself….), but you still might need to “train” baby a little bit to get used to sleeping in his own crib.

A third question is what happens if you let him fall asleep on/next to you, but then once he’s asleep you move him to his crib? Sometimes the case then is that baby sleeps fine, but if baby wakes up, he cries for mommy. So that would be workable depending on how many times a night baby wakes.

Finally, I know the Ferber method can be hard on moms and dads; I find it excruciating to listen to baby cry, but if you aren’t getting your sleep and the other things don’t work/aren’t right for you, you might consider it. The Ferber method is proven to train your baby to fall asleep on his own. My major suggestion with that is to read Ferber’s book itself, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, and follow it. His method involves gradually letting the baby cry for longer and longer – but in the beginning you go back in every few minutes, so baby knows you haven’t abandoned him. You set up a bedtime routine so baby learns the signals that it’s time to sleep. Often people try the Ferber method but don’t use a gradual build up to time you let baby cry in one stretch, because they didn’t read the book themselves and based what they did on short web articles or what they’d heard from friends.

The biggest thing I think you should know is that it doesn’t matter what family or others say about what you choose to do. Some people will tell you you shouldn’t let baby sleep with you because it will “spoil” baby or because baby will never grow out of it. Others will tell you you shouldn’t let the baby cry because that’s mean or because you’re training the baby not to depend on you. You have to pick the parenting style that works for you; since they don’t live with you, they can’t know all the details about what it’s like. Do what’s right for you, and don’t worry about it.

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