Everyone has an opinion, right? It seemed like everyone thought that they knew more than me when it came to raising my child. Obviously I needed them to enlighten me on the ways of forcing sleep. Cry-it-out here… cereal-in-a-bottle there… you get the point. At 21, no one thought that I could have any insight whatsoever into raising my son.
During my pregnancy I had discovered Dr. Sears. I knew right away that this was the kind of parent that I wanted to be. I was raised in a wonderful, Christian, breastfeeding, no-spanking, farmers-market-eating kind of family, so I fully expected to be that kind of mom. I saw no appeal in the other styles of parenting. My parents had grown up in very strict, punitive homes, and I thank God (truly, I really do), that they worked so hard against what they had been taught by example and they created an entirely new family tradition of child-raising. I could never thank my parents enough for that.
Still, for some reason, it seemed like everyone outside of my family thought that my kids would need to cry in order to sleep. They believed that my kids were manipulating me when they cried. They didn’t believe that breastfeeding should be on demand.
Well, I am here as living proof that breastfeeding on demand will not create terrible monsters who never sleep. Much to the contrary, I have the best sleepers that I know. My son started sleeping through from 7pm-7am at 4 weeks. I know this is very early. I know this is not the norm. I would never force this upon him, but it was how he naturally slept. My daughter slept about the same, although she would start later and wake later (more like 9pm-9am) by the time she was 6 weeks.
When my children were infants, we set up a bassinet next to our bed. It was just a Pack-N-Play with a bassinet feature – nothing fancy. We had a night time routine from the beginning, and it was different depending on our children’s needs. For my son, who from birth would fall asleep when music played, we had a special Lullaby and Hymn CD. For my daughter, who was always a snuggler, she would fall asleep each night while nursing in the sling. We did what fit the child.
After they were down for the night, if they cried, we picked them up and fed/changed/rocked/soothed them. My son did not like being in bed with us. He would cry if I even tried to nurse him laying down on the bed, because it would cause him to roll into me. For him, I sat in the rocking chair for these feedings. For my daughter, as I said, she loved to snuggle, so we would let her nurse in bed with us and then I would move her to the bassinet once she was asleep. Neither of my children had a problem with transitioning to their own room or their own beds when the time came that it was right for our family. There were no Dr. Phil horror stories here =P
My point of sharing is just to point out that for every story you hear of people who Ferberize or Ezzo (the link includes the AAP’s statement on why Ezzo-ing is dangerous), there are stories like mine, of kids who sleep great and were able to attach, bond, and feed on demand, just like God intended for our bodies.
Please, mommas, let me encourage you that our bodies are made to feed on demand. When babies go through natural growth spurts, they will cluster feed to increase your supply. Even adults get thirsty before 3 hours is up. Please don’t refuse a drink to your child in an attempt to force a schedule upon them. I know that those first weeks and months can be very exhausting, but it is just a short phase of your life.
My kids found natural schedules. They slowly spaced apart their meals as their tummies grew, and the relationship that we formed through breastfeeding is something that I am incredibly grateful for. Infancy is such a special, vulnerable time in a child’s life, and I am so thankful that we were able to foster such a close, trusting relationship with our kids. It was truly a blessing.
I breastfed on demand, co-slept, implemented extended breastfeeding, did gentle parenting, tried not to pump my kids full of sugar and guess what…they don’t sleep worth crap!!! They are 4 and 7 and have always been active at night, either sleepwalking or sleeptalking but I wouldn’t change A THING about my parenting style. The trust that we built in those first few years are priceless and even now when they do sleepwalk, they know they can walk right into our room and snuggle down in our bed next to us and we don’t mind a bit! Isn’t attachment parenting wonderful? And it really is great that you were determined to do it as a young mother, I truly think it changes who your kids become.
Congrats on your new little one too :O)