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I’m Glad I Broke My Own Parenting Rule

laurenhI will be the first to say that I’m not a huge proponent for crying it out. I felt a lot of pressure to try it with my first child and gave it a try for a little bit, but it always made me too sad and anxious so it was pretty short lived. I’m not militantly against it or anything; I think whatever works for you and your family is fine. That being said …

My second child has been a pretty terrible sleeper. We bed shared for more than five months because it was the only way we could get sleep, but he’s so big and such a fitful sleeper that it was rough on everyone. He never slept super soundly next to me and literally had to have a boob in his mouth all night long even if he wasn’t actually nursing. I was over it. We finally moved him to his own room last month (at 6 months) and while it was nice having him out of our bed, he was waking up 4-5 times a night on average (usually not less than four, but sometimes as many as eight!). Each time it would take 20-40 minutes to get him back down because while he would fall asleep easily, I had to wait until he was sleeping really soundly to place him in his bed. If he wasn’t completely asleep he would wake up the second I set him down. Wailing would commence and I would have to start again. Many nights after getting up over and over I would finally end up bringing him back to our bed to get at least a little sleep. (Terrible sleep with a kicky baby is better than nothing, right?)

It was exhausting to say the least.

So, a couple of weeks ago my husband suggested that maybe we should let him cry a little. I was hesitant. Partly because I remembered how hard it was letting my firstborn cry, but also because I felt like it would be hypocritical somehow, because I don’t feel like I fit the “cry-it-out-parent” mold. Then I decided that was stupid because what does a “cry-it-out-parent” even look like? In the end, I’m just a parent who is exhausted and knows that nothing else was working. So we tried it.

I nursed my babe to bed and then the first time he woke up I let him fuss. He fussed (not even really crying) for less than 10 minutes before falling back to sleep. He woke up only twice all night and slept for a six-hour stretch without waking — which is huge for him. Since then he’s been averaging two wake-ups a night, a big improvement. When he wakes up, I do a quick 5-minute comfort nurse and then lay him back down. He fusses for half a minute and then goes right to sleep. I can’t believe I never gave him the chance to learn to put himself to sleep sooner. It’s obvious now that he just needed a little more space to figure it out and he slept so much more soundly and has been a happier baby for it. I guess I just wasn’t ready yet, which is OK too.

The point of this isn’t to say that crying it out is a good idea or a bad idea but rather to shed some light on the bigger picture that it’s always best to follow your parenting instincts … even if it means trying something outside of your usual box. While I’m not exactly the poster child for sleep training babies, this happened to work for my little one, so I shouldn’t beat myself up and feel ashamed about it. There’s no one right way to parent and every kid will need something a little different — something I’m learning daily as I learn the differences between my daughter and son and their individual parenting needs.

So my advice to you is to let go of the expectations you have of yourself in your head and just embrace your own unique style of parenting.

Image courtesy of Lauren Hartmann

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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