Small Town, Red State is very big into self-denial and pain when it comes to parenting. If it isn’t difficult, you must be spoiling your kid with bad habits. Especially when it comes to sleeping. Of course, the bad habits for infants thing is just a myth from Western culture. Our Babies Ourselves is an awesome book that explains these kinds of issues from an anthropological perspective and shows how sleep and other things happen in different cultures. Modern western sleeping is very different than the rest of the world and the rest of time.
There’s also biochemical reasons new moms can’t bear to listen to their babies Cry It Out (CIO). When the baby is is older the scream isn’t so painful, just annoying. That’s kind of evolution’s way of letting you know that it’s ok to wait a bit. (Sadly, moms who were CIO too young or neglected when they themselves were young infants can lose this biochemical connection with their own children. PubMed can be depressing. Note: Experts recommend not doing CIO until the baby is at least 6 months old.)
At first I was terrified that my baby would die, so I would not allow cosleeping. Hard surface with baby monitor (that had a lot of noisy false negatives) only. Eventually baby fell asleep on dad’s tummy several times in a row and didn’t die, and I relented (also I read about SIDS and cosleeping from the Notre Dame sleep lab and found out we were ok). We then coslept, which was awesome because I got to cuddle DC, and most importantly, I could nurse when ze got hungry without anybody waking up. Ze would just grab for the breast and suck. My sleep cycles matched hirs perfectly (except when routines changed like with growth spurts), and we all got nice amounts of sleep (absent growth spurts, tummy aches, teething etc.). Eventually ze night weaned but we still coslept.
We transitioned from cosleeping to DC having hir own bed over the course of a week when DC was almost 3 (something like 2 years 9 months) and our bed got too small for the three of us.
It was super easy. We used Super Nanny technique #2. We explained to hir about hir own bed, did our bedtime routine (snack, bath, book, ze gets to stay in bed with book). Night one, one of us laid next to hir. Night two, one of us sat on the bed. Night three, one of us sat in a chair next to the bed. Night four, we moved the chair closer to the door. Then each consecutive night we got closer to the door until the chair was out. If ze got fussy, we moved a bit closer– always as far away as hir comfort level would let us. And that was it. No more cosleeping.
[Ed: Update: DH reminds me that he did one of the nights crouching over DC cuddling and that was moderately painful for him. I did not have any contortionary problems during my night turns.]
Now ze is about to start kindergarten and does not want to sleep in our bed, does not want us to sleep in hir bed. It’s funny how possessive ze is. Occasionally ze comes in for cuddles on Saturday morning but that’s really it. Even if one of us is traveling and the bed is free, ze just prefers hir own.
We do let hir fall asleep at night whenever ze wants to (sometimes with encouragement from us to turn the light out). Ze can stay up and read in hir room as late as ze wants, so we don’t have the problem of bedtime delaying tactics. Sometimes ze even turns hir own light out.
I think the folks with the 10 and 12 year old cosleepers (if they actually exist) are ones for whom cosleeping was always a forbidden treat. We got lots of warnings about that in the delivery room. DC is always welcome in our bed for cuddles, ze just prefers hir own.
So that’s the grumpy rumblings how-to on how to get your older cosleeper sleeping in hir own bed. Totally stolen from Supernanny. Just one more installment in the Grumpy Rumblings series, “We did everything they say you’re not supposed to do as a parent, mostly from laziness, and yet DC still turned out perfect.” (See also: baby food, guilt, potty training, daycare, etc.)
Were there any things you did as a parent that people told you would cause bad habits, but in the end didn’t?