Saturday, July 30, 2011

I Know I Am On The Right Path...

Oh so slowly :)

I've had a sleep transition plan in mind the entire time we've been bedsharing. The first step was to sidecar the crib. Next, transition her to sleeping in the sidecar. When that is good and established, put the crib into the daybed position and then move it away from our bed, but keep it in our room. Finally, when she is sleeping by herself, move her bed into her own room.

Now, I had no illusions about this process. I knew it would take a while. I am fortunate to have this kind of flexibility with her, and I know that is because I'm a Stay At Home Mom, and she is my only child. The next children's transitions will likely be more difficult. I also know that this transition with Charlotte will take until she's 2 years old (or older).

Something I have been intent on, with sleep and other things, is making transitions when she is ready. I don't subscribe to the idea that kids "need" to be pushed to do XYZ at certain times because it's "good for them." I don't want to push her to independence. Frankly, I think independence is overvalued in this country, particularly with babies and children. A child isn't meant to be independent at a young age. It develops over time. Adults generally prefer to be with other people, have companionship, support, closeness. I like sleeping next to someone. I don't like being lonely. And I'm 30! A baby certainly doesn't need to be expected to accept being alone. There is a reason babies and small children sleep better with their mommies. It's where they want to be, it's where they are comfortable, it's where they are meant to be.

Don't get me wrong. I know there are babies out there who don't necessarily like to sleep next to their mothers as they grow. They prefer more space, like to be able to move around. And cosleeping does NOT solve all sleep problems, believe me, I know. There were times when Charlotte would be snuggled right next to me and still wake frequently, crying--even screaming. Those were the times when something else was up. Teeth, getting sick, bad dreams, etc. But I think that being closer to me while going through these issues did make them easier on her. I hope that she felt some comfort anyway.

I am aware that bedsharing can cause some undesired habits if you're not careful. I DO know that a child needs to eventually be able to sleep in their own bed. I believe that they need that independence at some point. It has always been important to me to move in that Charlotte's pace, not mine.

I understand there are moms out there who need their children to sleep by themselves and learn to sleep for long periods. Multiple children, work. Sometimes it just has to be that way for the sake of sanity. Personally, I got 1000% more sleep when I started cosleeping, which made working much easier. But that's what MY child wanted. I'm not against sleep training. I just knew that I wouldn't be able to do it before a certain age. And I will do some if I need to later. Sleep is important and necessary for their development. If there comes a time when she is not sleeping well, and it effects her general mood and health, I will "train" to some degree. I will not have her cry it out. Chilren cry for a reason. And every child is different. No sleep training expert will ever convince me that they have a solution for my daughter's crying because they don't know her. How on earth could they give me a blanketed solution? If I am careful and observant, I will figure out what she needs so I can give that to her. And yes, I know that toddlers constantly test boundaries, and that may be the cause of some sleep issues in the future. I am prepared to set and enforce those boundaries if that is, indeed, what is happening. And I am fully aware that that can be a nightmare.

I cosleep because that is what my little peanut wanted. And I want her to trust me. To know I will give her what she needs. To grow up knowing that I will comfort her when she is upset.

I transition as she is ready because I want sleep to be pleasant for her. Because I understand she needs what she needs, and she is who she is. Because I know she is not manipulating me. Because sometimes she will want to sleep closer to me than other times. And because I know some nights, even as she grows, she will want to find comfort next to me in the night, and she is welcome there.

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