Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Getting Baby To Sleep-Thoughts and Tips and Resources


I've never had "that baby" that magically slept through the night at two weeks or six weeks or maybe even six months.  And with my first two children, I felt the entire time that I was doing something wrong in the sleep department because of that.  It took me till my fourth baby (thank you sweet Andrew) till I wised up and gained enough knowledge and experience to know and feel confident about what works for me and my family.

From what I heard from some "experts" or friends I was creating habits that would make my infants turn into toddlers and then children into teens with overly dependent terrible sleep habits.  Oh the things I heard.  They make me laugh now, six babies later.  Perspective is everything!

I've divided this post about into two sections.  Part One being my thoughts, and things I've learned the hard way, and Part Two some tips that have helped me and resources also.

Babies have always been the same since the beginning of time.  Yes, they are born with different temperaments and personalities but they are born with the same innate needs. It doesn't matter what part of the world they are born in, at what time (thousands of years ago, or today), what the culture is like, who the experts happen to be during their generation, or the parenting trends of the decade-they have always come from the womb with the same needs since the beginning of time.  They know nothing of Dr. Spock, Ferberizing, Similac, Graco or BabyGap.  I think every baby wants the warm loving arms of their mother as much as possible (she smells so good!!), food from their mother's breasts (and if that's truly impossible, the best substitute possible to survive), soft, warm coverings (probably not skinny jeans :), and a good diaper that is changed often.  Their only way to get their needs met is by crying (how frustrating would that be!)

Here are some thoughts from MY experiences and things I've learned from raising MY babies.  Hopefully this well help another mom who might be going through the same experiences and challenges.

1. Babies aren't naturally good sleepers. Here is a great article about how baby sleep patterns differ from adult sleep patterns.

2.  Don't ever compare a breast fed baby's sleep habits to a formula fed baby's sleep habits.  A breast fed baby should have different patterns of sleep.  Breast milk is perfectly designed for a baby-maybe not always perfectly designed for a culture that expects mothers to strive for 8 hours of straight sleep a night-but it is perfectly designed for the sake of the babies health.  It is digested more quickly than formula is.  I would compare drinking a bottle of formula to a carb/protein loaded Thankgiving meal-vs. a 'clean-eating style' meal of breast milk.  (We can only surmise that since nature intended for babies to thrive on breast milk they are designed to be more alert, and sleep for shorter amounts of time-for safety and developmental reasons.  Again this might not "fit" the trends today and our culture  right now, but babies know nothing of "fitting in" and it isn't their fault that they were born when our expectations don't match their needs and developmental stages.)

3. By very very wary of cry-it out sleep training methods.  I have found these are usually quick sells to desperately tired parents. I have also found the books don't paint a totally honest picture (or maybe the author just lacks the experience to be honest) of their "quick fix methods."  There are so many variables that they don't consider.

I tried one of the popular cry-it out approaches when I had my second baby and was told it was "my fault" and she would never fall asleep by herself unless she was taught.  This experience is on my list of "things I regret doing as a young, inexperienced parent."  It didn't work. Yes, I did follow the instructions.  And it was awful.  It left me feeling like my head and heart were going to explode.   It felt abusive to me.  It went against every maternal instinct I have in my body, and it felt so wrong.  And it didn't work, did I say that already?  I know that I gave up after the third or fourth day after following the instructions, when things weren't progressing according to the "experts" plan.  After finding my daughter with a messy diaper and her leg between the crib bars, delirious with misery, looking at me like "how could you?" I vowed never ever to betray my maternal instincts.  It took me weeks to get back to where she didn't cling to me with panic when I approached her room.  I made matters so much worse than they ever were to begin with.  I've heard this same story so many times.  Of babies that cry so hard they throw up, found laying in their vomit, asleep from the pure exhaustion of crying so hard.  Of parents who felt the same as I did in their hearts-that this is not right, it's not natural, it's not healthy.  Of older siblings crying too-asking why their mommy and daddy weren't helping their baby brother or sister, he/she needs you-from the mouths of babes!

Here are some other myths I have learned about the cry-it out sleep training approaches:

They are usually sold as a one-time deal.  As in, once you get through the couple hard days of listening to your baby sob in his/her crib alone for however long (they all have different times) then you'll never have to do it again. They will have "learned" to go to sleep.  Even those silly old nanny 911 shows that promote sleep training don't show the whole picture.  Sure, I'm sure there are some babies who "need" to cry only once before they learn no one will come and comfort them, but I think the "cry it out" approaches result in much more crying over the first and second year than many of them let on to.  I know when I realized this I wasn't willing to ignore my child's needs this much, and I didn't have the heart to repeat the cry-it-out process over and over again.

The first and second year of a baby's life is a huge time of growth in every facet of their lives.

Here are some scenarios I have found that have disrupted sleep patterns in my babies lives-
  • Growth spurts-these were very defined periods where my babies needed to eat more-it is their way of adjusting the milk supply to meet their growing needs.  
  • Some babies get teeth somewhat magically, others drool and rub their mouths and feel relentless pain.
  • Ear infections and other illnesses-usually don't show themselves for a few days which are preceded by night waking and fussiness due to real pain and discomfort.  Sometimes "bad habits" are established during these times (rocking baby to comfort, keeping upright, etc") and the process must start over again.
  • Wakening due to a new skill-One time Janey was sound asleep but mumbling and doing the "roll it" gestures of Pat-A-Cake perfectly (better than she had ever done them awake!) that I had just taught her.  She was all of eight months I think at the time!  It made me laugh-how quickly their brain is forming and how many new skills they are learning.  I compare it to when we adults have a new exciting challenging project we just began or are working on-we go to bed thinking about it, we might wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it, and it's one of the first thoughts we think of in the morning.  This is how babies are-about sitting up, talking, crawling, walking, speaking.  Their brains are wired to be passionate about these learning these new things.
  • Separation Anxiety-here is a great article about the science behind separation anxiety.  It is a natural development phase as babies learn about object permanence and build trust.
  • Colic (real digestive pain-more on this later).
  • Allergies (my children have never dealt with allergies but I've had friends whose babies were terribly sensitive to food, or detergents, etc.)
  • Fears
  • Sensitivities-More on this later, but all of my children were born with different temperments and reacted to their new world in different ways.  Some babies are much more sensitive to their new world than others. 
  • Family changes-Vacations, illnesses, "stress" of every day living (a death in the family, a break from routine because of moving etc.)
4. Be wary of "expert" advice. I've learned to be careful of advice about letting my baby cry, from other people who do not have the connection I have with my baby.  It's sometimes easy for a pediatrician (especially a guy) to say "let him cry". It's not his baby, and he doesn't have the same connection I have-he doesn't (and isn't supposed to have!) the mommy hormones raging through my body (that I AM supposed to have) when it comes to hearing my baby cry.  I should know my baby best-this is what nature intended.  If a mother is truly bonded she will feel the call in her brain and heart and very soul to soothe her baby when that baby lets her know he/she needs it.

One of the popular sleep training methods is called "Ferberizing".  In my opinion it sounds like something that is much more suited to dog training than "baby training".  It requires a lot of crying-not straight crying alone, but crying with parents checking in specified amounts of time.  (Which would just escalate the crying all over again.  "Oh good,  you've come, I've been calling you, didn't you hear me crying for you? Please come and get me and hold me.  Your coming, yay!  NO NO NO wait, wait, please don't leave, please don't leave and ignore me again! Why are you walking away and leaving me again?"  Repeat, repeat, repeat, and then eventually "I'll just give up, they don't care" or fall asleep from pure exhaustion of sobbing so long.)  Even the author has serious concerns with what he feels are misinterpretations of his methods, and talks about that here.  Very interesting.

Another popular method is from the book Baby Wise.  I understand that the appeal in the Baby Wise book is the need for predictability and schedule.  A sense of order to our days as mothers can turn a feeling of being overwhelmed and frustrated into contentment and enjoyment.  Establishing a pattern is healthy for my mind. (I will talk about tips on how to do this without force later).  Being aware of eating/play/sleep pattern is good (and this pattern was not discovered by the author), as long as it is not so rigidly led by me (or some man who wrote a book) that I let baby cry, or don't feed him when he's hungry because "so and so says not to".  I think it is important for mothers to know that Gary Ezzo has been excommunicated from his church (his books are "Christian" based teachings), he has called himself Dr.when he is indeed not and perpetuated other falsehoods about his education, he has little to no experience with children, nor has he studied child development in any sense.  He strongly advocates spanking babies as young as 14 months (and that's the tip of the iceberg in terms of his discipline advice that is utterly abusive) , his views and logic are twisted and ignorant, and the AAP has written a statement against his book because of the increase in failure to thrive babies that have been reported when parents follow the rigid feeding schedule he recommends in his books. Many highly respected, well -known child specialists have spoken out strongly against him and his books. There are many other books that teach more gentle sleep training methods using the same pattern of feed/play/sleep and don't have an evil man behind them.  This is a perfect example of the necessity of being very careful who we mothers take advice from!

5. Also be wary of falling prey to the fear of "creating a lifetime of bad sleep habits" that proponents of cry-it-out methods often employ.  I've heard or read many times that if I didn't "train" my babies to sleep the way some experts suggested I would have toddlers with terrible sleep habits and then children with terrible sleep habits who would turn into adults with terrible sleep habits.  If my babies nursed to sleep, or if I rocked them, or "helped" them to sleep in any way, I would 'create a monster' so to speak.  I can tell you that this has not been my experience at all, quite the opposite.  My older toddlers (around 2 and up, depending on the child) and children have all gone to sleep easily in their own beds and slept through the night barring the occasional nightmare or illness.  We establish night time routines, when they are old enough to understand what it means to lay down, stay in bed, and go to sleep.

I've found that it IS possible to 'sleep-train' babies without tears or at the least avoid heart breaking angst.  I know it's hard to be up at night again and again, I know it's hard to be tired.  I've had "easy" babies and desperately difficult babies.  That's part two-my experience-coming soon.

Here is an interesting new study about co-sleeping!

47 comments :

  1. Bless you for writing this. I LOVE your blog and SO very much respect your parenting, but have never commented until today. I'm a first time mom of an almost 6 month old. Prior to my son arriving, I read up on all the methods you discussed above and was fully prepared to execute said methods to magically produce a sleeping angel. Then I gave birth and fell in love more than I ever thought possible. I instantly knew that the so called "experts" were not to be trusted. Nothing compares to a mother's instincts. I'll never regret rocking my baby to sleep every night, they're only little for such a short time. Thank you for validating everything my heart was telling me I already knew!

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  2. Thank you for this post, and can't wait to read the next one! I am three babies in (well, third is only 4 months), so I am still interested in suggestions. We found that our babies will sleep through the night when they are ready. Our first child was ready when she turned a year old, it was like a switch flipped. Our second child, took a bit longer, and he was closer to two before he was ready to do it regularly. I cannot tell you how many comments I got and questions, are they sleeping through the night? And, when I would say, no, being told "they sure have you trained".

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  3. I love this post, thank you for writing it! I never let my babies cry it out either - it just felt wrong in my heart. They are fantastic sleepers now and don't hate going to bed like many children do. I think they enjoy going to bed because it has always been associated with warm, good feelings for them.

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  4. Thank you, Sarah! After your e-mail I have decided to NOT sleep-train my baby. And I love the info you presented in this post. I so appreciate your advice and always look forward to reading your posts.

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  5. I love your common sense, mother-instinct-led approach to family life. Thank you!

    When I was a new mother with my baby, I read Baby-wise, and it sounded good to me. Then I read another book with advocated a similar eat-play-sleep schedule that wasn't quite so rigid, and it sounded good to me. Then I read "What to expect in the first year" and it sounded good to me. Then I talked with a friend who told me that any kind of sleep training would cause me to have an insecure daughter who would never trust me again, and it made sense to me, then I spoke to . . . etc., etc., etc.

    Finally, when I'd reached the end of my hormonal, sleep-deprived rope, I knelt down and told God, "You know this little baby better than I do, AND you know me inside and out. You know the best way for us all to work together so that we can all get the rest and love and support that we need for us to be a happy family. Will you help me know what counsel to follow? Will you send counsel to me that is in line with thy will for this baby and our family?" And then I listened. From then on, when I felt unsure, I would pray,then listen to my heart, then follow my heart. Some nights were easy and some were harder, but once I started listening to God and my own heart, it became progressively easier.

    I still use that method with the changes and challenges that come with that little baby. Of course, they're different challenges now, because she just turned five.

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  6. SO important for new moms, especially, to learn that not everything in print is truth! Thank you for mentioning the dangers of Ezzo's books. I have five kids, and co-slept w/all of them (in a separate bed from my husband--I was too nervous that he'd squish the baby) and nursed through the night. It was the best solution for us. I couldn't sleep apart from the babies--never could relax knowing they'd be crying "any minute now"...you have to do what works best for your family. ALL five are good sleepers now (youngest is 4).

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  7. Love this!
    My 2 cents: I have twins and from day 1 I did the exact same sleep routine/method for both of them (cribs side by side, same bedtime, same feeding time, etc.) and guess what? I have 1 great sleeper..oh how she loves her sleep! And 1 not so great sleeper...oh how this boy hates to sleep! Haha!
    I've learned not to take much credit for my "good" sleeper and not to beat myself up over my "not great" sleeper. They really came with their own sleep personalities.

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  8. Though I am past these years, I so appreciate your viewpoints. I agree wholeheartedly with you. My teens have no trouble sleeping! They are empathetic, caring young men because there needs were met as infants. That sense of trust that started way back then continues through today. Was it exhausting at times? Absolutely. But the inconvenience I experienced was well worth it. Parents are often way too selfish and want things to be easy. Good parenting is often not easy. But the time flies so quickly. The sacrifices are worth it. Thanks for telling the truth that many people just don't want to hear.

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  9. I did learn some helpful things from these authors (such as the eat-play-sleep-repeat pattern) but in the end, their methods didn't work for me either. I had some kids out of six who were naturally better sleepers than others and there wasn't anything that I did that changed that. With our last, who is now 14 months, I wanted so badly to nurse him for a year (previously unsuccessful at this with the others). We made it (Yeah! It was not easy, but it was worth it!), and I know for a fact it is because I never demanded he give up that one last nighttime feeding. I have no doubt with my other babies that giving up that feeding made my milk supply dwindle early. Some people may not have that issue but it was true for me. I will never regret all the extra cuddle time I've had with him! With the others I was so darn set on them sleeping through the night I did whatever it took. Funny how time and perspective changes us. :) I'm a pretty attentive mom, and I don't think my other kids have been permanently scarred, but I might do things differently if I could go back.

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  10. I love this post! It's so great to hear someone speak out "against" the cry-it-out culture. I have 4 children. With all of them, I've co-slept from Day 1, nursing frequently throughout the night whenever they woke up and getting them as soon as they cried, if they were sleeping in the bed without me (during the first part of the evening). My youngest is only 17 months, so still co-sleeping and night-nursing on demand, but with my oldest three, I gently night-weaned them sometime between age 2-2.5 and by age 3, they were all sleeping in their own bed (or with a sibling), but were free to come into our bed in the middle of the night, if they woke up, but by 4 they were all sleeping in their own bed, all night long. We have had very little night-time issues or awakenings, only really for the occasional illness and my older kids are all fantastic sleepers. I do, feel that all the nightime closeness we put in, during the early years, paid off when they got older.
    -Amelia @ One Catholic Mama

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  11. I quietly disagree with the assumption that there are only two ways-- breast feeding/co-sleeping/poor sleepers and let your child scream for hours, bottle fed, trained sleepers. I have had eight children and have never been a mother to let my babies cry. I have learned gentle tips on helping your babies sleep that have blessed my life. I agree with what you are saying, just adding that there really is a third alternative (for some babies). After feeling like I had figured out the key to great sleepers I was given #7 a colicky baby. I held and cherished her all day and all night for over a year. But, she has allergies that caused a hurt belly.
    She is a good sleeping, darling toddler.

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  12. Funny how your Catholic book series on raising children get 5 comments at best. But you write about 40 days decluttering, the weather, your house chores Iin general mundane stuff or now a long post about feedings, sleep patterns and other newborn issues and the comments pour in. What gives?

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  13. Great post! I really feel like we need to trust our guts with our babies and our kids. Every child, every family is different. I think more than anything moms need to trust their instincts! Great post! And Happy Birthday ;-)!

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  14. Ahh breath of fresh air!
    Could not agree more!
    Thanks fr posting.

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  15. Again proving why you're my favorite! Can't wait for part 2

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  16. Again proving why you're my favorite! Can't wait for part 2

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  17. I love your words, as always, and you have such a way of putting things that is not degrading to any mother, all while still stating your opinion strongly--that is quite a gift! I am on a waiting list for the Catholic parenting book and am looking forward to reading part 2 of this series! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to write:)

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  18. I love your real world parenting advice & techniques. I'm reading this as I'm nursing my 5 month in my bed. He still wakes about every 3 hours to eat. A scene most of my friends and aquaintances balk at. So this post really resonnates with me! I appreciate knowing others feel the same way I do. We have always rocked or cuddled our babies to help them get to sleep. It feels so right to ease them into sleep versus stressing them. Thanks for such a wonderful perspective.

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  19. Amen! Thanks for posting this.

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  20. Thank you for this! So far, I've been following my instincts about this and just doing whatever my baby seems to need to get to sleep and stay asleep. There have been times I've been tempted by CIO (since he was crying anyway...), but it always looked to me like, when he was crying, he was scared and/or angry...so why would I do something that would only make him more scared and upset? But there's always that little question in the back of my mind that if I don't train him, am I actually making it harder for him to learn in the long run? It is SO reassuring to hear that, like in every thing else, he will find his way eventually. I'm just here to facilitate his growth, not "train" or control it.

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  21. You know I agree, sister! I love it! I can't tell you how many parents, pediatricians, and other well intentioned people have given me books, told me what I "needed" to do…I read all the books but stuck with my gut and my kids are perhaps a little "too good" at sleeping now.

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  22. I tried CIO with my second child when he was about 6 months old and after a couple of nights gave up on it. As it turned out he wasn't getting enough milk for his evening feeding, which is why he was still waking up every 3 hours in the night. I finally discovered that, after nursing him, he would gulp down an additional 5 ounces of formula. Every baby is so different. My third child was down to 1 feeding in the night at only 3 weeks old, and he still wakes up once in the night at age 3 months. He doesn't nurse to sleep (which is completely different from my other 2 kids), he is on a "sleep, eat, play, sleep, eat, play" pattern. I am all about babies finding their own pattern without any training at all and he settled into his own pretty quickly. It has been a testament to me that every baby is so different, even though their needs are the same.

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  23. Love to read your perspective. Thank you

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  24. I remember those days....and nights. I have 4 children and as much as I loved nursing and cuddling them in the rocking chair in their room (I had twin girls first)....I would try to lay them down while they were still awake. And I always had either a special blanket or with my one daughter it was a beanie toy that they got at bedtime. I would sometimes sit in their room for awhile and just watch them drift off. If they would cry, I would pick them up and burp or cuddle them....then lay them down again and pat their back for a bit. I held and cuddled my babies a lot, but tried not to be the one they associated with "falling asleep". I wanted them to be able to drift off without depending on me.

    When I would nurse them in the night, I had a heating pad that I would lay in their crib when I took them out (on low) and then take it out again before I laid them back down. From my warm arms to a warm crib was an easier transition.

    Those are still my favorite memories of my girls....our nights of quiet togetherness while the rest of the world slept. Even when they started sleeping through the night, I would still get up to check on them and make sure they were snug and warm. Maybe that was more for me than for them haha.

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  25. Ahh, Thank you for posting this. I needed to know I was not the only one feeling this way. Letting an infant cry it out seems wrong and cold to me. I love spending those quiet nights with my children and giving them the love they need.

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  26. I love this. And my 16 month old is still nursing at night. I think it's good for both of us. I tried letting rory cry it out and it was the worst. I think she was just sensitive- still is- and needed extra cuddles.

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  27. Excellent advice, Sarah. I am a mom of 7 (2 are in college now), and I had the same experience and conclusion as you with letting babies cry, etc. I do wish there were blogs like yours back when I was a new mom.

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  28. Thank you so much for your advice! My last little one has been my hardest as far as sleep goes, so I love reading advice like this to help me with future kids. Unfortunately, I let him cry it out a lot and I so regret it. Next time we have a baby I am going to do things differently. I love your blog and how positive you are about mothering, family, and religion. Thanks for your great example!

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  29. I love your blog but I disagree with CIO being horrible and experts being ignorant. CIO worked for us. It WAS difficult and so tough to work through, but it DID work after just a few nights for us and my children are so much happier/rested because of that. Mommy instincts are VERY valuable but they are not the only important factor. I relied on advice from medical experts and books written by legit experts and feel confident that even though it was difficult to listen to CIO, it was a wise decision. I've learned there are lots of things I have to do as a parent (let them ride bikes without training wheels, for one!) that go against all my mommy instincts but are valuable growing pains and result in happier kiddos and a happier family.

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    1. I agree with this! It makes me sad that the above post on hand says "do what's best for you" and then dismisses (summarily!) some of the very methods that might very well work for someone else! I had four amazing babies who were sleep trained using the Babywise method. No, I don't agree with everything in it nor did it matter one smidge to me that Dr Ezzo was excommunicated from his church. Not sure how or why that SHOULD matter. I used the parts that worked for us and skipped the rest. I had four babies that slept 12 hours a night by 12 weeks of age. It definitely worked for us. And my children, now 21, 18, 16, 14, are happy, healthy and well-adjusted young people who don't seem any worse for the wear. I don't happen to agree with co-sleeping and on-demand feeding, both things that work for others. But if it works for you, then go for it! Not sure why it has to be so adversarial.

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    2. I'm with you. I never "sleep trained" according to any method, I was just mindful not to allow habits develop that made my babies dependent on me for their ability to sleep. When my 4th was born, my oldest was 3 years old. I would have been nursing and sleeping with 4 kids! I put them to bed drowsy and they all turned out just fine. My kids never experienced urgent distress and I am indeed fully bonded with all of them.

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  30. Amen. Xoxo thanks for taking the time to write. Mother of two breastfed babies, one of which is almost 2 and still hasn't slept through the night, but who can complain when you get the extra snuggle time... And a 5, who did that too, and now sleeps 13 hours at night, fitfully and relaxed, and deals with any interruption to sleep routine like a rockstar. Pls. Sleep when the baby sleeps, drink when the baby drinks (and just because I have much lower standards for myself) clean when the baby cleans, which I'm lucky she likes a lot, daily, together.

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  31. I always love your words. I love your style and your parenting intuition. I am having baby number three ( within three years!) and am so happy my other two sleep so well. My first born was put on a relaxed routine and it resulted in him sleeping very well. My second born was a screamer from the get go and I was dying. Again with the same relaxed approach he managed to sleep well during the day but in the end for night I let him cry it out after I was completely exhausted. After three nights he has never woken since, now almost 19 months. This was how I felt after praying and considering what I should do. My husband works out of town and I'm usually a single parent. I had to do what I could in order to meet this baby's needs, and that meant me being well rested. I know other mothers who have three and four year old terrible sleepers because of rocking/lying down approach and had felt they couldn't have more children because they were so sleep deprived.

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  32. Both babies were breast fed until a year old which I am truly thankful for. All in all this is a tricky and personal business. Your words on being weary of experts are very true. We have been given judgement and instincts for a reason. Love all your thoughts on this subject and wish you great sleep :)

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  33. Thank you! I wish I had read this when I had my first! I quickly learned to listen to my gut with the rest but it was so hard not to be convinced of "expert ways" when I had just one and plenty of time to read! Maybe one of the blessings of added children...have to start relying a little more on prayer and the power inside us since no book time.

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  34. Oh thank you so so so much for this post. I am still breast feeding my 2 year old and, until last week, we co-slept. He still falls asleep on the breast. He sleeps through the night now, although he didn't used to AT ALL! But it's part of motherhood and being a parent ... it doesn't stop at bedtime, they still need us. I could never do the cry it out/controlled crying method and I hate it when I'm asked when I'm going to do that with my son.
    I love reading your articles like this because it makes me feel like I am not alone in how I parent :)

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  35. Thank you so much for this post. I have tears running down my face, it is exactally what I needed to read! I've got an 8 month old precious boy and I'm all over the board with his sleeping. He is in the bed with us again and I'm ok with it and I feel like it is best. When I tell my friends that they look at me like I've got 5 heads. I've tried the Ferber method and my husband didn't feel good about it. Baby did good for about 3 weeks and then he decided that he needed to be with us. While the sleep training was going good, I was so proud of him but when he would cry my mama heart and stomach would turn to mush. It was terrible. I am so mad that I didn't trust my gut or my husband's only to try to listen to friends. In reality deep in my heart I know that him being with us is the season of life we are in and he needs us. I've created some bad habits with him being sick over the past few weeks and wanting to nurse ALL night long while he sleeps on or beside me but it won't be like this forever so I am trying to enjoy it while he wants to be with us. Thank you for taking the time to write this post!!

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  36. Yay, Sarah! Awesome advice, as always. I would just like to make a plug for how important it is to consider baby's physical comfort and health status ahead of parental sleep and "routines". My first baby was a contented sleeper for the first few months and then began waking anywhere from 5-15 times per night. I was living overseas, and as a first time mom tried everything to get her back to what had been her norm. A doctor I took her to mentioned her ears were "a bit red" but said no antibiotics were needed. She was about 18 months old when we came back to the US and at our first visit with our doctor she was diagnosed with a HORRIBLE ear infection. After 48 hours on anitbiotics she began sleeping through the night. I soon learned that this little one showed none of the signs considered typical for ear infections....except she'd stop sleeping comfortably. From then on, I knew we were dealing with an ear infection when she woke up more than once in the night. Imagine how grateful I was that I hadn't bought into the cry it out philosophy during our months overseas--she may have had undiagnosed ear infections the whole time, but at least her mama was there trying to soothe and comfort her! That realization right there made me completely ignore the cry it out advice I got with my others. So by the time baby #3 came along who never slept more than an hour at a time....I was prepared for the exhaustion, knowing it would only last for a year or so. Interestingly enough, baby #3 had a rare heart defect that wasn't diagnosed until she was 9 months old. As it turns out, letting her cry for a long period of time would have been so detrimental to her fragile physical state! I am unbelievably thankful that I followed my instincts to nurture, hold, and soothe, or we could have had a terrifying and potentially fatal situation on our hands! That's definitely an extreme example, but it certainly illustrates the need to proceed with caution when you choose to let a baby cry for long periods of time. Babies are good communicators, and they usually have a reason for crying!

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  37. Very helpful Sarah! I still can't get my 11 months old to take more than cat naps so better start trying out something new.

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  38. I have to tell you that I love your blog and am grateful that you are such a shining light of how meaningful and wonderful it can be to be a mother. However, I feel like this post was just as biased a post as the so called experts who propagate sleep training. I believe that it is whatever works best for the mother, the child and the family. If sleep training works for you and your family that does NOT make you a bad mother/parent and/or selfish. When we start claiming there are only certain ways to do something as a parent, that's what makes me wary.

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  40. Thanks for sharing. Though not always popular I agree with you whole heartedly. My experience mimics yours. I was so exhausted with my twins the book, Babywise, was going to be my answer. After failing miserably with one twin and working perfectly with the other twin I determined that all babies may not be the same. I pitched Babywise in the garbage lest some other poor soul get their hands on that guilt inducing book and did what felt right for me. It was a long year for me and my hard to sleep twin but we made it through and he did eventually learn to sleep through the night and turned out just fine. I'm expecting my 6th baby now and am glad to say I'm a little bit wiser about how this works today. I try to pass that message of doing what works for you and your family along to mothers that I meet. There is not a one size fits all method though there are tips and tricks that can help as your figure out your baby. Thanks for speaking out!

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  41. I let my first baby cio at 5.5 months bc I was delusional with lack of sleep and "everyone" told me this is what had to be done. NIghtmare. On my list of motherhood regrets as well. I cringe thinking about it almost 13 years later. Obviously I did not do cio it out with my next 4 children. 2 babies were naturally mellow and good sleepers, and the other 3 were basically non sleepers. I've never quite recovered from the sleep deprivation--and I, too, read every single sleep book on the planet--but nothing ever felt right except to soothe crying babies. I may be tired, wrinkly and mildly nuts from sleep deprivation, but I don't have the guilt that went along with those so called "expert" sleep methods.

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  42. Thank you for writing this. I remembered reading it before I had my twins and just sought it out (I love google) to re-read again. Exactly what I needed to hear tonight.

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  43. I love your words, as always, and you have such a way of putting things that is not degrading to any mother, all while still stating your opinion strongly--that is quite a gift! I am on a waiting list for the Catholic parenting book and am looking forward to reading part 2 of this series! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to write:)
    Jennifer
    BebeWellness

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