No seriously, if it’s making you miserable, this isn’t something you need to do. Grumpy rumblings gives you permission to not do it. You’re not spoiling your kid. You’re not destroying your child’s chances of ever being able to sleep at night or whatever dire consequence you think is going to happen.
There is nothing wrong with nursing to sleep. No, the baby won’t be needing the breast to get to sleep at age 5. There’s a reason breastmilk has sleepy juice and anti-cavity stuff in it. Even if you wanted to breast feed forever, the kid will eventually wean on his or her own. You’re not fostering bad habits that will have to be broken later. And, the baby can fall asleep a different way for a different care provider even while nursing to sleep with you. Rocking is fine too unless you dislike doing it. Again, five year olds don’t need to be rocked to sleep.
Yes, some parents are absolutely desperate for sleep, and if their kid is older than 6 months, it probably won’t do any harm to try sleep training (making sure they’re using a real method of CIO like Ferber’s, and not some crack-pot thing they found on the internet that could get the child protective services called in on them). [Note: ending co-sleeping with an older child.]
It is OK if your kid doesn’t take naps. Honest. You don’t need a rigid schedule. If your kid is cranky from lack of sleep then, sure, encourage naps and sleeping in, but if your kid is perfectly happy… that is OK. You’re not a bad parent. Really!
Cosleep if that works for you. Don’t cosleep if it doesn’t. Stick to a schedule if that’s what’s easiest, but don’t bother if it is making you miserable. There is no “You have to do this,” in parenting once you get past the basics of food, shelter, clothing, interaction, and love.
Also, while we’re at it– you don’t need to force pureed organic baby foods down your kid’s throat if the kid isn’t ready for them. If they just come right back out, you have our permission to take a break from trying. And no, solids will not help your baby Sleep Through The Night, even if your pediatrician says they will– pubmed disagrees. And it’s ok if your baby doesn’t sleep through the night! Sleeping through the night is unnatural and an invention that we’ve only had since electric lighting.
Honest to goodness… kids have been doing this sleeping thing (not to mention the eating thing) for aeons. The idea that somehow we have to train them to do it (or dire consequences) rather than it being hard-coded seems pretty ridiculous. In fact, with so much of this parenting, it seems like you get exactly the results you don’t want if you try to force something rather than letting it take its course. (Disclaimer: some kids do have disorders like reflux and other things that interfere with sleep… those should be checked out by your pediatrician–get to the root of the problem.)
This tiny rant brought to you by #1’s kid being old enough that she’s hearing folks’ stress again. And having some seriously scary interviews with potential mothers helpers. Aieeeee!