I’ve written a number of posts about the joys I’ve experienced nursing my son Dylan to sleep. But getting him to sleep is not just about nursing, it is about parenting. I’ve deeply valued the time I’ve spent parenting my son to sleep and plan to do the same with baby #2 who is due in December.
I find it quite disconcerning that anywhere I turn in the “mainstream” parenting world, I encounter people talking about “sleep training”, “controlled crying”, or “crying it out (CIO)”. It sometimes seems as if many parents think they have no choice but to put their children in a crib, leave the room, and hope they fall asleep crying. There are so many “sleep experts” writing books or websites touting the magical solution to getting your baby to sleep through the night through a variety of different methods that usually involve a baby falling asleep on their own in a crib – no wonder so many parents think they need to sleep train!
Dr. Sears warns about the dangers of sleep training for breastfeeding mothers:
Beware of using someone else’s training method to get your baby to sleep or get your baby on a predictable schedule. Most of these methods are variations of the tired old theme of letting baby cry it out. Before trying anyone else’s method, run it through your intuitive wisdom. Does this advice sound sensible? Does it fit your baby’s temperament? Does it feel right to you?With most of these baby-training regimens you run the risk of becoming desensitized to the cues of your infant, especially when it comes to letting baby cry it out. Instead of helping you to figure out what baby’s signals mean, these training methods tell you to ignore them. Neither you nor your baby learn anything good from this.
For us, it never felt right to leave Dylan alone to fall asleep. It felt right and it felt natural to be there right beside him as he drifted off to dreamland. Some of my most precious memories of Dylan as a baby and toddler involve watching his eyes slowly close and observing the peaceful, angelic look that comes over his face once he is asleep. Sometimes we’d have crazy, hectic, tiring days, where I’d lose my patience or just feel fed up. Seeing Dylan’s sweet sleeping face at night always bring back tenderness to my heart and is often just what I need after a long day.
I believe that parenting Dylan to sleep each and every night has helped him become the independent, fiesty and loving child toddler that he is. I wouldn’t give up all those hours that I have spent lying beside him for anything. I’m so glad that Jake and I decided to listen to our hearts rather than listen to “sleep experts”.