01 August 2012
I tried co-sleeping. One night. That is how long I lasted. Apart from the fact that Dylan's every moan and groan had me jumping with apprehension, I was also wide awake trying not to roll over and crush him. My husband looked at me and said, let's just leave him in his cot in his room: we have the monitor if anything goes wrong.
And that was how we kind of fell into our sleeping habits when it came to our kids. It did involve many blurry-eyed passage trips in the early days of constant breastfeeding but before long, he was skipping the 10pm feed and if I had disciplined myself to go to bed early, I was actually managing a good stretch of five to six hours of sleep.
I did the same with my daughter. She was in her room from about week three- staright after bath and feed, she would be swaddled and in her cot. She was quite unsettled until I realised she didn't like the night light. My girl likes a very dark room.
The one thing I have never had problems with when it comes to my kids is sleep. Now I know many of you (our freelancer Margot included) want to throw this magazine at me. But this is my little space and I can talk about my experiences. I do firmly believe that a controlled but not strict routine has set the scene for good sleeping habits in our family. There is very little deviation from eat, bath, bottle, bed. Evan sleeps in her cot with her comfort blanky and her dummy. Dylan sleeps in his own bed. Neither of my kids have ever slept in our bed. If they need us with them, one of us will sleep in their beds.
So they know their rooms are their own space and they are comfortable with that. This is not in line with everybody's beliefs. And frankly, I try not to judge how other people do it. I am not in your house at 3am, and if having your kids crawl into your bed works for you then you have to do that. What works for one person, may not work for another.
I do think that having realistic expectations of how much sleep you can actually expect from a baby helps. Our sleep whisperer Meg Faure lays this out nicely in our sleep special. So knowing a newborn needs nourishment every three to four hours (consider the size of her tummy: even if you put solids in there- bad idea- it will still empty out quickly) so until that tummy grows, kiss a good night's sleep goodbye. What I can say is this: it passes.
Either your kids do learn to sleep, or they don't and you learn to cope. Do what it is that you can live with, but try to remember that good sleeping habits, like good eating habits, are taught by parents. So if you want to sleep train, don't be afraid to.