Sheryl Jesin


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Nursing to sleep – some more info

I often hear from new moms that their babies often or always fall asleep nursing. These moms are usually quite worried that they are creating bad habits or doing something wrong.  They are afraid that their babies will never “learn” to fall asleep on their own.

If you want to read about my personal experiences with nursing to sleep, I’ve written a post in the past about the Joys of Nursing to Sleep, and I recently wrote a post about how my 2 year old who has always been nursed to sleep has recently been sleeping long stretches on his own.

The Kellymom website provided me with some extremely helpful information when I was a new mom and unsure about nursing to sleep.  Kelly’s words made me feel good about my decision to continue to nurse my son to sleep, despite hearing from various well-meaning friends and family that what we were doing was WRONG!  My heart told me that what we were doing was natural, and the info below helped me strengthen my convictions.

I highly recommend that every breastfeeding mom read Nursing to Sleep and Other Comfort Nursing.   Kelly believes that nursing to sleep is completely natural:

Many moms feel guilty for nursing their baby to sleep. Nursing your baby to sleep is not a bad thing to do! It’s very normal and developmentally appropriate for babies to nurse to sleep and to wake 1-3 times during the night for the first year or so. Some babies don’t do this, but they are the exception, not the rule. Many children, if given the choice, prefer to nurse to sleep through the second year and beyond. Nursing is obviously designed to comfort baby and to help baby sleep, and I’ve never seen a convincing reason why mothers shouldn’t use this wonderful “tool” that we’ve been given.

Kelly answers a number of common questions in her usual reassuring and non-judgemental way.  These questions include:

Kelly includes an inspirational quote from Paula Yount, one of the moderators from the Kellymom forums.  I hear from so many moms that they feel like a human pacifier after many hours of nursing.  Paula explains her views on this:

You are not a pacifier; you are a Mom. You are the sun, the moon, the earth, you are liquid love, you are warmth, you are security, you are comfort in the very deepest aspect of the meaning of comfort…. but you are not a pacifier!

It’s not surprising that so many moms feel guilty about nursing their babies or toddlers to sleep when there is so much information out there from so-called sleep experts about sleep training.   I hope that other moms receive the reassurance they need from the Kellymom site.   Nursing your baby to sleep feels natural and normal because it is!   It can even be joyful.

What have your experiences been with nursing your baby or toddler to sleep?


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A co-sleeping update

Hi Readers!  I’m so sorry for not blogging lately.  It seems that life has taken over my internet time lately – which I guess is not a bad thing.  We’ve been enjoying the beautiful weather here in Toronto – spending lots of time outdoors both early in the morning and later in the evening.  I love spring/summer and all the extra daylight but it has really been putting a damper on Dylan’s sleep.  He’s up early in the morning (sometimes before 6….yikes!!) and generally goes to sleep late too (sometimes 9 or 10pm!!).   We’ve been going for early morning walks and evening bike rides.   We just bought Dylan a new tricycle and he is in love!

So here’s a little co-sleeping update.  Up until recently, Dylan would always wake up and was in our bed by 11 pm.   However….there has been a major change in his sleeping behaviour and he now stays in his own bed without waking til 2, or 3, or sometimes even 5!   Maybe it’s due to all the extra time outdoors, or maybe his sleep is just maturing.  When he wakes up he walks into our room and climbs into bed with us and we cuddle til the morning.   This happened with no prompting at all on my part.

So I have to say a major HAHA to all those nay-sayers that said that if we let Dylan sleep with us he’d never learn to sleep on his own.  I’m proud of the fact that we have always met Dylan’s needs at night and never forced him to “self-soothe” (whatever than means) or cry-it-out.

I’m sure someday he will sleep in his bed all the way until it’s time to wake up in the morning.  Until then, I will enjoy our early morning snuggles.


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Natural Parenting Felt Natural

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I do not have a sophisticated reason why we chose natural parenting.  I can’t say that before my son was born, my husband and I spent hours poring over books and reading websites, researching different parenting methods and determining that natural parenting was right for us.

Instead, during my pregnancy, I spent hours poring over pregnancy books – bad pregnancy books even! (although I didn’t know it then).   I read each word of What to Expect While You Are Expecting over and over to the point where I practically knew it by heart.   I knew what was happening to my baby each and every week during my pregnancy, and it fascinated me, and consumed a lot of my thoughts!

I also spent lots of time preparing for Dylan’s arrival by decorating his nursery.  I picked out the perfect crib, the perfect crib bedding (along with a matching bed skirt).  Let’s not forget the perfect curtains, lamp, pictures on the wall, etc.   I spent weeks agonizing over what stroller to buy.  Once the stroller was picked out I then spent weeks deciding which pack ‘n play best matched our room because our baby was going to sleep in it close to our bed for the first few weeks of his life.

During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I felt prepared!  We had everything ready.   All we needed was our baby!

After our son was born, I was in for a big surprise.  All my preparation had not prepared me at all.  Dylan couldn’t have cared less about his nursery.   He refused to sleep in his crib or his pack ‘n play.  He wasn’t gently lulled to sleep when we went for walks in his stroller….instead he screamed and wailed until I picked him up.  We had much better luck when he was tucked into my sling.

So I held him a lot, nursed him a lot, slept with him in our bed, and tried to meet his needs as best as I could.  I started to read some good, useful books, such as The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears, and La Leche League’s Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.   I spent some time on some great websites, such as www.kellymom.com and www.askdrsears.com.

The research came after the fact, and supported what came naturally to me and to my husband.  It felt great knowing that there were others out there who were doing things the way we were!   In retrospect, even though we didn’t plan to parent naturally, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


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Co-Sleeping with a 2 yr old

Our co-sleeping routine has changed and developed through time as Dylan has grown older.  A lot of people ask me how it works – who sleeps where, what time we go to bed, etc.   So I thought I’d share the details of our current routine.

Usually around 6:30 or so we start our bedtime routine.  If we are home and have enough time, this involves a bath, followed by getting into jammies and brushing teeth.  What comes after varies – usually we turn on Dylan’s sound machine (set to ocean waves) and then Jake, Dylan and I lie together in Dylan’s bed.  This usually happens around 7:30 0r so. We have a double mattress on top of a boxspring directly on the floor – it isn’t very high and Dylan doesn’t roll around much so we haven’t put up any bed rails.  If Dylan isn’t too tired, we read a couple of books, talk a bit, and then turn off the lights.

Most of the time, Dylan nurses to sleep.  This can take anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour.  His preference is for both Jake and I to stay with him when he falls asleep.  Obviously I need to be there if he is nursing, but he likes having his daddy there too, and we are OK with that!  It gives both Jake and myself some time to unwind after our busy days, and allows the three of us to spend some extra time together.

Up until recently, Dylan would wake up fairly often unless I stayed beside him.  I could always sneak away once he had fallen asleep, but he’d wake up usually around an hour or an hour and a half later. I’d hear him on the monitor and come back to his room quickly and nurse him back to sleep again and then sneak out again if necessary, or just bring him into our room if I was ready to go to bed.

I’ve found lately that Dylan is going for longer stretches by himself in his bed, without any coaxing from me and without my doing anything differently.  These days, he will stay in his bed for anywhere between 2-5 hours without waking up.  This is huge for him!

When I’m ready to go to bed (usually around 11 or so), I sometimes bring Dylan into our bed right away, or I sometimes go to sleep and leave the doors open in between our rooms.  When Dylan wakes up in his room, he comes into our room and climbs into bed with me.   I find it unbelievably cute to watch him run into our room, and don’t mind being woken up.  Sometimes I nurse him when he comes into bed with me, and sometimes he just falls asleep with some cuddling.   We have a king size bed in our room and there is plenty of room for me, Jake and Dylan.  In fact, the three of us often end up cuddling and only taking up a third to a half of the bed.  I should add that Jake often falls asleep watching TV on the couch downstairs, and joins us in bed anywhere between 12 – 5 am.

I’m never really sure what happens for the rest of the night, once Dylan joins me in bed.  I think he nurses occasionally, but I couldn’t really tell you how often or for how long.  We generally wake up for the day around 7 or 7:30 am.

There is nothing sweeter than watching a 2 yr old toddler sleeping.  I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to do it on a daily basis.  I truly feel lucky!  I cherish our time together at night even more now than I did when he was younger.  I know that at some point he won’t want to be in our bed anymore.   Also, on the days I am at work, it gives me a chance to make up for the cuddles and kisses that we missed during the daytime.   I don’t think I could work if we didn’t co-sleep.  I’d miss him too much!

Many people are genuinely surprised when I tell them we still co-sleep.  Many people think that 2 yr olds should be sleeping on their own in their bed all night without waking up.  And they also think that a 2 yr old should be falling asleep on their own.  I don’t think there are any hard fast rules about how any of us “should” sleep, toddlers included.  Each family has to do what works for them.  As long as everyone gets some rest and is happy, then anything goes!

What is your current sleep routine like?


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An Accidental Co-Sleeper

As a mother of a two year old son, I love co-sleeping, and I am an advocate of all of the wonderful things that it does for us and our son.  However, I was not always an avid co-sleeper.  In fact, we stumbled upon it accidentally, out of necessity, and thanks to a wonderful nurse!

Dylan was on a cold winter’s day 2 years ago at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto.  I vividly remember the first night that Dylan, Jake and I spent together.  Dylan was quite sleepy and spent lots of time snoozing in the clear plastic aquarium-like crib in our hospital room.  I spent most of the night awake, staring at Dylan through the plastic, constantly nudging Jake and asking him to check if Dylan was still breathing.  Needless to say, between staring at Dylan while he was sleeping, and feeding him (or attempting to feed him!) while he was awake, I didn’t get much sleep.

Dylan asleep in his aquarium crib

Dylan asleep in his aquarium crib

The second night was even more tiring than the first.  Dylan’s sleepiness had come to an end and he spent hours and hours breastfeeding.  As soon as I took him off my breast and attempted to put him in his crib, he’d start wailing.  I was beyond exhausted and was feeling extremely frustrated and overwhelmed.  Jake and I did not know what to do!  We needed to get some sleep but didn’t know how.

Jake decided to call our nurse into our room.  We explained to her our predicament – that Dylan seemed to want to breastfeed all night long and that he was unhappy in his plastic crib!  She could see that we all needed some rest.  She swaddled Dylan up super tight, in the way the only nurses know how, and told Jake and I to get into bed.  Then she said that she was going to put Dylan in between us in the bed.  At first I wasn’t sure about this idea – weren’t babies supposed to sleep in cribs? I could not believe that the nurse was actually suggesting that we all sleep together in that small hospital bed.  I questioned her idea, but she convinced me that it was worth a try.

So the nurse placed Dylan’s sweet, bundled body in between myself and Jake in bed.  It was as if Dylan could sense our bodies next to him and our arms around him, and he drifted off into peaceful slumber.  Jake and I also slept well with Dylan in between us.  I could sense him and his tiny breathing body next to me, and I could relax enough to get some much needed sleep.

So I must thank our nurse at the hospital for giving us our first taste of co-sleeping.  She planted a seed in my mind and  it grew and grew as the first few days and weeks went by.  I will continue in another post about the adventures in co-sleeping that transpired once we got home from the hospital.


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The joys of nursing to sleep

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers!

This month’s theme is ‘the joys of breastfeeding.’  You’ll find links to other bloggers’ contributions at the bottom of this one

Picture this – you are on an airplane with your husband and your 20 month old toddler.  It is almost time for you son to nap.   You don’t have your son’s favorite book, or his blankie, or a warm bottle of milk.  You don’t even have a seat for him to sit on.  The last thing you or anyone near you wants is a screaming, overtired toddler in a small enclosed area with nowhere to escape.   How in the world are you going to get him to sleep?

This was me, a few months ago.  My husband, son and I were travelling back home from an amazing family vacation.   Our flight was at 1pm – prime nap time!  But within minutes of boarding the plane, my son was fast asleep in my arms.  My secret sleeping weapon?  Breastfeeding!

All new parents are OBSESSED with sleep.  Rightly so – they generally don’t get enough of it, and people around them can’t stop talking about it.  How many times as a new parent did someone ask you – is your baby sleeping through the night?  Or – is your baby a good sleeper?  I know that I was asked these questions probably on a daily basis.  Now that my son is 2 people just assume that he sleeps through the night (P.S. he doesn’t and I’m ok with it!).

Right from the start, it was difficult to get my baby to sleep in any way other than by breastfeeding.  I fought it in the beginning – I thought that you should feed a baby, put him or her  in a crib, leave the room,  and the baby would peacefully drift into dreamland.  Boy was I ever wrong!  This did not work, at all!  I was perplexed, and  I started to read lots of books, blogs and websites about infant sleep.  I read lots of “mainstream” info that stated NEVER nurse your baby to sleep.  You will create bad habits and your baby will never be able to fall asleep without you.  Luckily, I  balanced this with a healthy dose of attachment parenting info that explained that nursing to sleep is completely natural, normal and has been done since the beginning of time!  Breastmilk contains sleep inducing properties that helps babies fall asleep.  Plus, the act of sucking itself soothes and calms babies, thereby naturally inducing sleep.  And as an added bonus – when a mom breastfeeds, chemicals are released in her body calming her, and inducing sleep in the mom too (this came in handy on the airplane!).

A lovely lounge chair nap on our cruise

So back to our family vacation.  My son had a wonderful nap on my lap on our plane ride home.   And he also slept great during the whole trip!  Wherever we were, as long as mommy and her milk were with him, he’d fall asleep.  In the hotel room, in our room on the cruise, on a lounge chair on the deck of the ship, in the Ergo walking back to the ship from a morning at the beach – he’d always fall asleep peacefully, quickly and with no tears!  Breastfeeding has been his prime sleep association since birth.  He doesn’t need a favorite book, a blankie or a warm bottle of milk to fall asleep. However, these things do come in handy when I can’t be there and it’s time to sleep.  Because guess what – he can fall asleep without me, even 99% of the time he is nursed to sleep!

Who needs a crib? Not me!

Now, the fact that we co-sleep too also helped on the trip – no need to worry about a crib!  But the joys of co-sleeping…that’s a whole other post…

How has breastfeeding helped you deal with baby or toddler sleep issues?

Please check out some of the other Carnival of Breastfeeding posts: