Should you let babies cry it out or soothe them to sleep? What’s best, co-sleeping or crib sleeping? When should kids give up naps? Stephanie and I share what’s worked (and hasn’t) for us in our two very different sleep strategies for our families in the July 2010 issue of Parenting magazine – Early Years. It’s on newstands now!
The truth is, the answers to parents’ sleep questions aren’t always cut and dried. Stephanie and I are the perfect examples of how solutions are never one-size fits all. I can’t share the entire Parenting article with you (you’ll have to pick up a copy of the magazine for that!) but here’s a little excerpt:
Co-Sleeping* vs. Crib Sleeping
STEPHANIE: I started co-sleeping with my baby the day she was born. She was in the little plastic bassinet on the opposite side of my hospital room and she was crying nonstop. The nurse suggested that I put her in bed with me, that my body heat would calm her. It worked — and it stuck. I adored sleeping with her, and it made breastfeeding much easier because she could simply latch on and we both drifted back to sleep. I actually kept our co-sleeping a secret, though, because I thought I would be judged as a “bad mom” for starting a supposedly bad habit. But then I picked up William Sears, M.D.’s The Baby Book. Dr. Sears teaches that co-sleeping is the norm in many countries and can be beneficial for both mother and child if you do it safely. That’s why I tell new moms to read all you can but keep in mind that you won’t know what truly works for you until you try it.
*Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics says the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a separate space (co-sleeper, crib or bassinet) next to the parent’s bed. But if you do decide to bed-share follow these precautions:
1) Don’t sleep with your baby on a couch, inflatable mattress or waterbed.
2) Push your bed tightly against a wall and remove or lock leg wheels ir your bed has them. Place your baby to sleep between you and the wall, rather than between two people.
3) Remove pillows, sheets and blankets that could cover your baby’s head.
4) Do not sleep with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol; if you are under the influence of a drug that might make you overly tired; if you are obese; if you smoke.
5) Never leave your baby alone in an adult bed.
SARA: I worked harder than I ever have those first few months after my daughter was born. At the end of the day, I needed a break. I think having my baby in bed with me at night would have put me right over the edge. Yet I totally realized why it worked for Stephanie, who was pining to be with her daughter while she was at work. And she understood how I needed time away from the rigors of being a stay-at-home mom. This was one of our first “aha moments” as friends. What worked for me wouldn’t have worked for her and vice versa. And that was okay. We didn’t realize at the time that motherhood would lead us down completely different paths, but we’d established a precedent of mutual respect, which I think has enabled us both to trust our own instincts as mothers through the years.