Walk into any bookshop, have a browse around Amazon or a quick search on the internet and you’ll find a long queue of people ready and willing to tell you the correct way to raise your child. They can solve any ‘problem’ in a week and each has their own set of rules and regulations to make sure it happens.
The trouble is that quite a few of them aren’t parents, yes Super Nanny I’m looking at you. A fair few don’t have quite a good credentials as they would like you to believe, yes Clare Byam-Cook that’ll be you. And an awful lot of them seem to think that the Holy Grail of parenting is to ensure that the child is totally independent as quickly post partum as possible.
To hell with thousands of years of evolution, our modern parenting gurus have decided that a child needs to be alone and independent and so it shall be.
You have only to read the sleep threads on various parenting websites to see what strategies are supposed to work and to deliver 12 hours of sleep uninterrupted by small children.
I’ve not made a secret of the fact that we have had issues with sleep Chez Muddling – in fact there have been times where I have arrived at work more zombie than superwoman and have got through the day only through an intensive diet of caffeine and sugar.
Tell anyone that you are having sleep issues and they are not backwards in coming forward.
The issue we had was that Bigger was not terribly happy to sleep in her own bed, preferring to sleep in ours and that if she did sleep in hers initially invariably she would come in and cuddle up later in the night. I’d stopped lighting a fire in my room (well who wouldn’t want to sleep by a nice warm fire?) and had even closed my bedroom door, only to go up to bed to find the door closed and a small, warm person in my bed.
We had started to have battles over going to bed, over staying in bed – things were getting worse not better. We were all not getting enough sleep.
And then suddenly it struck me, I wasn’t stopping her sleeping with us because I felt that us sleeping together was wrong but instead because of the cacophony of views that suggested that we HAD to make her sleep in her own bed. Instead of listening to my instincts I was creating trouble by trying to do something that didn’t work for us.
Now Bigger either goes to sleep in her own bed and knows she can come into us later or, especially when Mr is away, will curl up in my bed and I’ll join her later – she sleeps soundly from 7 until 7 and we are all rested. Interestingly Littler, who I co-slept with from the morning she was born until about 18 months when she weaned from the boob sleeps all night in her cot snuggled up under her two (yes two, she likes to be warm…) duvets.
A recent question about how to get a 7 month old to sleep on the Pampers Facebook page was full of stories of methods to force your child to sleep. Almost all of them had a mother mentioning how hard she had found the process and how she had been reduced to tears listening to her baby cry.
Why are we fighting our instincts to cuddle and comfort our babies instead of listening to them?
Why do we think it is acceptable to leave a small child to cry alone for night after night? Would we treat an adult like this – can you imagine standing outside the door letting your partner cry and not going to comfort them?
I believe that Bigger sleeps with me because she needs to know that I’m there – she needs the certainty that Mummy isn’t going anywhere. I’m not there in the day so being there at night is what it takes. And finding peace with that has been like a magic sleep inducing wand in our household. Both my girls sleep better, I get more rest and we all have the cuddles that we need.
So do you believe that comforting your baby creates a rod for your own back?
Do you listen to your parenting instincts or what the gurus say?
Is there one right way or just the right way for you and your baby?