Before we had our first child, we got some invaluable advice from some friends who had just had a baby.
They encouraged us to read anything we could get our hands on about sleep and to have a plan that we could agree upon before our baby was born.
They pointed out that once our daughter arrived, we would be so tired from not sleeping that we would have no energy left to read about sleep.
We read no fewer than four entire books on sleep: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Babywise, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, and The No-Cry Sleep Solution.
We took bits from each of the different philosophies and came up with a plan that we thought would work for our family.*
I really cannot stress enough just how much it helped us to have a game plan once our daughter arrived.
We made adjustments along the way, but we had prepared ourselves and that helped us to feel like we had some clue what we were doing when we were bleary eyed and not thinking clearly.
Our first priority was that we teach her how to fall asleep on her own.
I didn’t nurse her to sleep.
We didn’t rock her to sleep.
And in no way was that easy for us.
We both longed to hold her tiny body while she slept. We wanted so badly to breathe her in and listen to and memorize her infant sounds.
But, we believed then, as we do now, that it was far more important to teach her how to sleep without us as a crutch.
She slept in her bassinet in our room until she was three months old and I remember just laying there at night, watching her eyelids flutter and listening to all of those strange sounds that only newborn babies make.
Moving her to her own bedroom was one of the most heartbreaking experiences that I’ve had as a mother. I remember placing her so carefully in her crib, looking her in the eyes, and wishing her sweet dreams.
I came downstairs and watched the video monitor. I sat and cried, but through my tears, I watched her fall asleep. The only tears were mine.
When our son came along, we had to fine-tune some of the things that we had done with our daughter because he was a different baby, but the basics were the same.
There are still so many nights when I would love to climb into bed with them or bring them into our bed to snuggle. But I don’t, because I know it’s not what’s best for our family.
And the choices that we made might be the polar opposite of what you’ll choose for your family, but the important thing is that you have a plan.
Like us, you might find that no one book has all of the answers for your family. You will probably have to take bits from one book and pieces from another.
But, I encourage you, like our friends encouraged us, do it before you have your baby.
Because, I promise, you’ll be too tired to come up with a plan once your baby arrives.
*Our sleep philosophy was the best choice for our family. In no way do I believe that it is what’s best for all other families.
Start right here: Babble’s Baby Sleep Solutions!