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you let your baby do what??

you let your baby do what??

I was talking to Melly last night, trying to help her out with some parenting issues. I know, me giving parenting advice. How...ironic or something.

She was letting Mattie "cry it out" as they put it, and it was bothering her. She asked me for my opinion, not really my advice, so I gave it to her. I think it was what she wanted to hear, and I told her to please feel free to send me Mattie's therapy bills years from now when he has no coping skills because his mother didn't let him cry it out. That's what they say will happen, anyhow. You know who they are. The experts.

I told Melly, plain and simple, that the experts may know what is best for the babies they have had to deal with, but they don't know her baby. You can dispense all the advice in the world that you want, and you can write a book about it and go on tv and preach about it, but honestly, what holds true for the child of and expert does not necessarily hold true for yours. And while their advice may be fitting to hundreds, even thousands of parents and babies out there, it may not be fitting to yours.

I did not believe in letting my kids cry it out. Especially when they were infants. My heart told me that if a baby just spent nine months wrapped up in the snuggly confines of your womb, being alone and unsnuggled, without that comfort of a human presence, is going to frighten the hell out of him. Letting him cry it out to teach him how to sleep alone and be alone and comfort himself just seems a ridiculous lesson to teach an infant. I tried it for one night with each kid. I lasted a total of about 5 minutes each time, because I couldn't take the screams of lonliness and fear that were coming from the crib. Melly did better. She lasted 8 minutes before she went and got him.

Some of my favorite memories of the infant years of my children are when they would fall asleep on me. I would sit in the recliner and lay them on top of me, and their little heads would snuggle into my shoulder, and they would scrunch their tiny little legs up and their teeny little fists would grab a piece of my shirt, and they would fall asleep like that, breathing on my neck, feeling my heart beat against theirs. Sometimes they would take whole naps like that. I loved that feeling, that knowledge that I was comforting to them. That what they needed to feel peaceful and soothed enough to sleep was me. Or their grandfather or aunt or uncle. We all let them sleep like that. And we all miss that. You don't get those moments back. Rocking a baby to sleep, singing lullabyes in their ears, stroking their hair and curling your finger around their wrists while they sleep, those are the moments I wish I could have all over again.

It didn't stop there, though. I never did put either child back in their crib. They both slept with me until they were two, and were excited at the thought of getting their own big-kid bed. I received lecture after lecture about the dangers of letting my child sleep with me. Not "you'll suffocate her" lectures. That I would have laughed at. Mostly, I heard from people who thought I was doing grave psychological harm to my children. I was told they would never be independent, they would have serious mental issues when they got older, they were more likely to become depressed, suicidal, unable to form intimate relationships....the list of scare tactics goes on.

If you think a "family bed" or "co-sleeping" isn't for you, then fine, it isn't for you. But don't lecture other people about it. You aren't raising their kid. You aren't living in their home. Every child is different and just because yours prefers sleeping alone in his crib does not mean that every child will prefer that. It doesn't mean that every parent will prefer that. Save your lectures. Save your judgments. I'm not going to judge you for letting your kid sleep in his crib. Because that's obviously what your kid likes if he's happy. So don't judge the way I let my child sleep.

I didn't give Melly my advice. I gave her my opinion, and my experience. I told her that what worked for me may not work for her. I hope she stops listening to the "experts" because the only expert when it comes to raising your child is you. Not Dr. Spock, not Penelope Leach, not some crazed nazi-parent on Oprah who thinks that children should be completely independent by the age of 2.

Parenting comparisons suck. The minute someone comes up to you in Chucky Cheese and says "oh, my child is the same age and she's talking already," or "I can't believe you let your child have a pacifier," run. Get up and run. You do not want to deal with these people. Not only will they villify you for your sleeping arrangements, but they will question your choice of diaper brands, your pediatrician, your decision not to breasfeed and the laundry detergent you use. If you mention that your baby had a fever last night, their baby will have had a higher fever. Their clothes cost more and last longer and their child eats better and can draw and read and speak five languages at 8 months old. Stay away from these people. They will only make you feel bad and inadequate, when you are really neither of those things.

You are your own expert. For the rest of your child's life it will be you - not doctors or teachers or guidance counselers or aunts or neighbors - who will know your child's needs and limits better than anyone. Put the books and magazines down and parent by instict. It's the best parenting tool there is.

Comments

Take it from the woman who makes rice krispy treats for dinner. Eh, we actually lasted nearly an hour once, letting one of our children cry, before saying "fuck this shit". Our oldest daughter moved into her own room when we moved to our house, when she was about 4. The youngest we started out in her own room at, what, geeze, I forget - I was so tired all the time back in those days - she was younger, like 2, but she agreed to do it on the condition that she can come into the big bed whenever she wants. She's 4 and a half now and still sleeps between us most nights - we start her out in her bed and when she wakes up in the middle of the night she comes over.
I don't think that letting kids sleep in your bed harms them. At least, it works for us. Ours are doing okay. I read that cultures where the kids sleep with or in the room of the parents also have a lower rate of SIDS.
As far as "experts" go, plenty of them have fucked-up kids too. I was going to rant about B.F. Skinner raising his daughter in a Skinner Box, but looking for a link I discovered it's an urban legend, so I guess I'll have to revise my opinion of Skinner.

Preach it. By the way, I've heard that young children who sleep with their parents actually grow up to be very independent adults. So there are benefits there.

The "let them cry" bit didn't fly with us or our girls either. We did the schedule routine and it worked for us. Everyone and every baby is different.

And to those people who frown on little kids who suck their thumbs: Bite Me.

My brother and his wife had a most unusual arrangement with their three kids. Each child had his or her own room, and they each had a double bed, but basically the whole family slept in all kinds of configurations that changed not just from night to night, but throughout the night. My brother and his wife usually ended by morning in their own bed with at least one of the kids. What was behind this arrangement was that his wife follows Chinese custom, which says that it is cruel to make a child sleep alone. It sounds exhausting to me, but hey, it worked for them.

However, with their kids 10, 8, and 6, they now stick to their own rooms most of the time.

Amen. Give the so called experts the finger. My daughter, Maggie, is 20 months old and we are expecting another child in less than two months. Maggie slept with us for the first year and I know it was a huge part of my wife's success nursing her during that time. We made a big deal about her getting her own bed on her first birthday and she loves it. She always goes to sleep in her own room but some time in the middle of the night she makes it into our bed. She is a wonderfully independent and loving child and I wouldn't change a thing. Night before last she slept through the night in her own bed as I knew she eventually would. Ahhh my first full nights sleep in 20+ months. (sorry didn't mean to rub it in since I know you have your own sleep issues, but it felt soooo good)

my mom followed the "cry it out" advice with me and look, i'm a total freak.

Amen! I wish I had someone to give me that type of opinion when I had my son. I truly regret bending to the will of my now ex-husband (hallelujiah!) and letting my son "cry it out". I felt terrible and it didn't do any good in the long run. I say raise your children the way you think they should be raised and screw the so-called expert opinions.

So, if your child sleeps with you nightly, does that mean that your sex life is over for those two years? (I am childless; this is an honest question.)

One would have to have a sex life to begin with for that to happen.

Seriously, my husband at the time was working nights, so it didn't matter.

Mae, you could do like my brother and his wife: whenever the whole extended family was over at my parents, who live directly across the street, all of a sudden we would realize that they were missing.

"Haw haw," we'd snort.

So, it's possible to have a sex life. It just takes a little (sometimes unknowing) cooperation from the whole family.

Amen! No one can tell you what is right for your child. As for the sexlife... get creative. =) Sex doesn't always have to be in bed, does it?

Normally I give in at 5am because I am so exhausted and I take him into my bed. Last night I got in with him at 11:30pm. He slept until 4:30am, had a bottle, and then slept until 8am. That is more sleep than I usually get in a couple of days. And he usually requires three bottles a night.

I almost feel sane ... in that insane melly sort of way.

I got more pressure today to let him cry. I finally told her that I am the mommie and to let it go.

It seems a bit odd to me that the two biggest people in the house get to sleep with each other but the littlest people are 'supposed' to sleep alone in another room. What kind of logic is that?

I never let my son "cry it out" - and I am a FIRM believer in following the vibe over "the experts". That said, I tried to do the snuggly hold them as they sleep thing, but it just doesn't work too well when they are 10...

I believe in comforting kids, but the corollary is not to teach them that they own you either - that they don't learn that all they have to do is open their mouths for you to come running. I've seen little kids like that, and they'll scream for anything because they know it works.

One of those things that depends on the personality of the kid and so can really only be judged by the mom on the scene...

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