Cry It Out or Co-sleep?
When I was pregnant, I read many baby books on the trials and joys of parenting a newborn. I received many warnings from books, and friends, about the sleepless nights ahead. In the process, I came across the much-debated Ferber Method of sleep-training your baby and the approach of Attachment Parenting.
The first method is basically leaving your baby awake in their crib at night, following a bedtime ritual, letting them cry, and never picking them up for any reason (unless they’re hurt or endangered I suppose) so they can learn to soothe themselves to sleep. You are allowed to check in on the baby at intervals to pat them only. It’s a controversial method that many Attachment Parenting (AP) followers decry. A lot of AP parents, and even those who don’t label themselves as such, believes it traumatizes the child. But many parents swear by it.
When I first read of the Ferber Method, and saw a video of a set of parents trying this method, I immediately said that this was not a method for me. I vowed never to let my baby cry it out. Fast-forward to seven months and many sleepless nights later, I can see why some parents would try it.
To contrast it with AP beliefs however, here are some key differences:
- Parents should respond to the children’s needs at night just like they do during the day
- Explore the variety of different sleeping arrangements, and choose the approach that allows you to best be responsive at night
- Remain flexible, and understand that it is developmentally appropriate and normal for babies and children to wake during the night
- Infant solitary sleep is a relatively new practice that has evolved only in the last 100 years, and co-sleeping is highly encouraged
AP parents point out that “cultures where parents routinely sleep with their children report some of the lowest SIDS rates, and in some of these cultures SIDS is non-existent”.
Dr. Ferber however, though slightly less rigid in the past about co-sleeping, still advocates establishing the baby’s independence early on in a separate crib, preferably in a separate room. And the Ferber Method definitely revolves around this assumption that the baby will be in their own crib in a separate room.
After reading extensively on both methods, I have decided to reject both labels. So many parents are already confused, not knowing which expert to believe. I was one of them, until I found that so many so-called experts are constantly coming up with conflicting results in studies.
I don’t happen to like Dr. Ferber’s rigidity, but I also don’t like being labeled and AP parent. I’m a mom. I’m Mina’s mom. We have our own routine, our own challenges, and our own unique individual baby. We do what works for us, as ultimately all parents must do.
My baby alternates co-sleeping with me and going to her crib which is in our room. I grew up that way so this method feels natural. This “independence early on” is a strangely U.S. phenomenon, though a few countries in Western Europe also practice it (at least according to a friend living in France).
I nurse, and depending on how I feel, she goes to her crib at the foot of our bed, or sleeps in between my husband and me. Sometimes I pray to the sleeping gods that she finally sleep straight until morning, because she still nurses twice a night. However, when I’m nursing her, I remember that she will not be a baby forever, and once she’s weaned and sleeping like a normal person, I will lament the fact that she’s –well– weaned and we don’t get to bond as much.
However, if it ever got to the point that I couldn’t function normally anymore because of sleep-deprivation, I certainly would not look down on the Ferber Method. But no matter what I do, I will always be listening to MY gut feelings, staying in tuned with my daughter’s progress, and then adjusting and tweaking where needed.
Besides, this sleeping thing won’t be a problem for long. Who knows of a school-age kid that isn’t a drag to wake up the morning after all? And by the teen years, most of our kids would sleep till noon if they could. 🙂
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