I’ve written about co-sleeping before and have been the recipient of some pretty harsh comments about how I don’t care if I kill my baby and all the usual finger-pointy uber judgmental stuff you’d expect.
I am firmly in the Whatever Works For Your Family Camp.
What works for my family is not full-on co-sleeping, but keeping newborns in a bassinet by the bed and bringing baby in for some breastfeeding whenever he or she cries. And if that involves me lying on my side to breastfeed while both me and baby doze, so be it.
My husband is a big whale of a sleeper so there is no way in hell I’d ever let baby be subjected to his fitful bursts of flopping. But, as most moms tend to be, I can wake to the sound of a binky falling out of my child’s mouth on the other side of the house. So I have no problem trying to catch some Zs while breastfeeding at three in the morning.
And guess what? A pediatrician agrees with me and has no problem publicly sharing her co-sleeping stories on The Huffington Post. As Dr. Claire McCarthy, M.D. acknowledges, “this may not be a great confession to make as a pediatrician, but when it comes to sleep and kids, I am a total softie. Our kids slept in our bed. We slept in theirs or lay next to them as they drifted off to sleep.”
Exactly. Whatever it takes to get some sleep. I know there are going to be a lot of people who think this is terrible but hey, it’s how millions of people all over the world sleep with their children. It’s been done since the beginning of time. McCarthy agrees, saying “it never really mattered to us whether they slept independently, or all night. We broke all sorts of ‘sleep rules’ on a regular basis.”
Dr. McCarthy points out that, of course, this is “not what a pediatrician is supposed to say.” She continues that it wasn’t so much about catching some uninterrupted z’s but, like me, preferred co-sleeping for breastfeeding and “it’s really hard to do that for any length of time without some co-sleeping.” Not only that but she and her husband just plain enjoyed being close to their children. She even admits they were lazy. “It was just easier to get up and climb in bed with someone, or bring them into our bed, than work at getting them to go back to sleep by themselves.”
I really appreciate this article. An expert acknowledging that parents don’t need to lose their heads over every, tiny little thing. Here’s my favorite thing Dr. McCarthy had to say:
Personally, I think that as a culture we are a bit too hung up on getting our kids scheduled and independent practically from the time they are born. But I’m not out to convince anyone of that as a pediatrician. When I talk to parents about their kids and sleep, aside from finding out if what they are doing is safe and healthy, what I most want to know is whether what they are doing works for them. If it does, we move on to the next topic. If it doesn’t, I’ll work with them to find a solution. That solution might be getting their kids to sleep independently and through the night — but it might be something else.
There are no absolutes when it comes to parenting. What works for one family might not work for another. Blanket rules and policies don’t apply to everyone. They issue these warnings and policies because of incidents that are in the minority. But we are smart and can work out for ourselves what is best and safest for our children. This, I firmly believe.
What do you believe about parenting?