I already admitted recently that we bought our first baby sleep book. After a year of not sleeping much longer than 3-4 hours (or less) at a time, I felt that maybe we were missing something. Previously I resisted getting a baby sleep book, because I thought (and still think) that worrying about lack of sleep takes even more of your energy than just not sleeping well. I also believe that sleep is not something you can force onto your children, but that the only thing you can do is create an environment in which they feel safe to fall asleep. So we didn’t buy any of the books that say that you have to let your baby cry-it-out, but instead got ‘Nighttime parenting’ from Bill Sears, the father of attachment parenting. Does it make sense to get a book on something that you already do (namely breastfeeding and co-sleeping)? It kind of does, which is why I’m writing about it.
The book starts out explaining what attachment parenting is. Sears doesn’t say that you have to breastfeed, babywear and co-sleep, but he just says that attachment parenting helps you achieve two goals:
- To know your child.
- To help your child feel right.
And I like the way he talks about ‘nighttime parenting’, suggesting that you shouldn’t put your baby in a separate room from 7PM to 7AM (as some people around us suggest) but that you should also be there for him at night. But what annoyed me a bit was how he made it sound so overly romantic: you lay down with your baby after a nice warm bath, hold him in your arms and nurse him to sleep. Yeah right. In our house, that works only some of the time. Most of the time however, BlueEyes will nurse, almost fall asleep and then turn around and sit up, crawl out of bed and start playing. So then usually Dr. BrownEyes will come in and walk around with BlueEyes until he either sleeps or wants to nurse again (which he will tell by crying). This is far from the romantic picture dat Sears is painting in his book, which is filled with 70s pictures of people cuddling with their sleeping baby in the family bed…
In another chapter Sears talks about the ‘high need baby’, with which he means babies that have a hard time sleeping and/or cry a lot. I’ve been wondering whether BlueEyes would qualify as a high need baby, and to be honest: I have no idea. I don’t really have a lot of firsthand experience with other babies (I had never even changed a diaper before BlueEyes was born!), so I can’t say how he compares to other children (well except for all the stories about children who sleep through the night at 6 weeks old…). But the solution for a high need baby is basically even more co-sleeping, breastfeeding and babywearing than for a regular baby.
So was this book useful? You might be surprised, but yes it was! Because now I know that we’re not just doing something, but that it’s sort of normal to still nurse a 1 year old to sleep and to walk around the room with him when he wakes up at night in order for him to fall asleep again. And that it’s just a matter of waiting until he will sleep better.