We were gifted an old-fashioned crib by family, but went out and bought a Snuzpod sidecar crib so we could co-sleep safely. When expecting, we said we’d never bed share because we’d read all the advice about how bed sharing could lead to SIDS and was dangerous. We’d never put Jonah’s health at risk!
We stayed two nights in hospital to get breastfeeding support, and were surprised that Jonah didn’t sleep well in his crib. He’d cry when we put him down, and found it very hard to settle in that little plastic box. In my ignorant new mother haze, I genuinely believed there was something wrong with him. I even asked the midwives why he wouldn’t settle anywhere but in my arms. The belief that babies sleep in cribs was so strong with me.
After Jonah’s birth, I didn’t sleep for five days. Literally. He slept on my chest because I couldn’t bear for him to get upset when putting him down. He only slept in the Snuzpod once (for a daytime nap) on our first day home, in the picture above. After that he only slept in our arms, or on our chests, and maybe a couple of times on our bed after being fed by me.
Once Jonah was a few weeks old we gave up on the crib, and, suffering a serious lack of sleep, we decided to go with our gut instincts and put him in bed with us. We figured out how to breastfeed lying down and oh the blessed relief! Sleep at last. No need to sit up to feed! Yes, he still woke up several times a night, but a quick turn over and swap boobs and off to sleep again. It felt so right.
Yet, in those first six months I heard countless times “is he a good sleeper?”, “does he sleep through yet?”, “is he in a crib yet?”, “they only cry for a bit, then they learn” – each time thinking, he sleeps like a normal baby should! Because a few months in, I’d learned about normal infant sleep, and had figured out that all of it was healthy.
As a society we seem to have so many expectations about how our little ones should sleep. We forget the reasons it’s both normal and healthy for them to wake frequently, even if it can be rough for us parents. We often feel like baby is the problem, that we need to get back to normal as soon as possible, and that includes baby sleeping through. The truth is that babies aren’t programmed to sleep through the night. Some babies do, but they are the exception not the norm.
We hear about sleep training, it pops up in our feeds, and we wonder if it might help us and baby get more sleep. Experts tell us to ignore our gut feelings for the sakes of sleep. To get baby on a schedule so we can parent better in the daytime. There are various flavours of sleep training, but they all essentially boil down to withdrawing comfort.
And this is why I won’t sleep train Jonah:
Maintaining our secure attachment
Crying it out can cause separation anxiety and insecure attachments. I’d like Jonah to know he can always trust me. Each positive interaction with me reinforces that trust.
Respecting his needs
My baby’s needs are equal to mine. He needs me to help him sleep, to reassure him. That’s what mums are for. He will be little for such a short time. I respect his neediness.
If my husband woke through the night needing me – I’d respond, so this is what I do for my baby, too.
Optimum physical and emotional health
The closeness that comes from tending to my baby releases hormones that are beneficial to both me and him. Letting him cry it out would raise the stress hormone cortisol in both us.
Waking up through the night may be a protective factor relating to SIDS.
Attending to his biological needs
How frequently do adults sleep all the way through the night without needing the bathroom, a drink, or comfort from a loved one?
Here are some gentle alternatives to sleep training that might help the whole family get more sleep.
So no, we won’t be moving him into his own bed until he’s ready. We won’t sleep train him, nor will he ever cry it out!
The only sleep “training” Jonah knows is that I’ll always respond to his needs, day or night. As for the Snuzpod, it looks beautiful – but for us it makes better bedding storage than crib.