you let your baby do what??
you let your baby do what??
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.