This is the headline on the front page of the Telegraph today and while it inevitably will re-open the age old argument of Gina Ford vs. attachment parenting I wanted to share our experiences with Matilda and Henry when it comes to sleep habits. Besides I don’t think anyone truly fits into a category so why do we constantly try and label them as such?
Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know the stark differences between Matilda and Henry in the sleeping department, Matilda slept through the night at 12 weeks and since then only has a bad night if she’s either teething or sick. Nap times are easy and now she even asks to go for a sleep and says night night as you leave. Henry on the other hand at 7 months is only just sleeping for more than 3 hours at a time and wakes up 2-3 times a night. Nap times normally involve rocking him to sleep in his push chair or simply going out for a walk or drive as fail safe ways to get him to sleep.
We’re reaching the point now with Henry where we’re trying different things to get him to sleep a bit longer and more importantly be able to resettle himself in the night if he wakes and isn’t hungry. The article mentions that ‘wakers’ tended to be boys and also breastfed. Well our very small sample of 2 matches that perfectly with Matilda bottle fed from 3 weeks and Henry still being breastfed at 7 months.
But is this really precise cause and effect? Probably not but if a baby like Henry is used to be comforted and falling asleep while being breastfed does this make it more likely that they won’t sleep as well? Or is it simply a result of him being no.2 and therefore we have less time to really focus on keeping routines etc? We have regular bath and meals times but to a certain extent he has to fit in with Matilda also, that’s inevitable.
My personal view on parenting is that at some point a child has to be able to fall asleep without being rocked to sleep. They of course need to feel comfortable and safe enough to do this. For me the age to do this is when they start becoming too heavy to rock if only for the health of the parent, but also it probable is a reasonable sign of their age. Part of my back problems after Matilda was born was from the time spent rocking her and lifting her in and out of her cot and Henry already weighs as much as her despite being 13 months younger.
If done in the right way I don’t see this as cruel, far from it. With Matilda once she reached an age where we thought it was time for her to be able to resettle herself we did a very short period of controlled crying. It took 2 nights of about 30 minutes and from then on we could put her in her cot awake and she’d fall asleep give or take a few bed time challenges. Now a year or so later she normally spends 20 minutes chatting away to herself in her cot before going to sleep. Hardly the sign of an unhappy child is it?
But what do you think? Have you seen a difference in your children between those that were breast fed and those that were bottle fed? How did you make the transition from rocking them to sleep to letting them fall asleep in their cots by themselves? Or if you co-sleep how does that night time routine work for you? If you’re children are a bit older now do you think the sleep routine you established in that first year have had an impact on how they sleep now?
Really interested in your perspectives here.