I recently had the pleasure of talking with Bee, of Smart Baby Activities. This website is awesome, it shows various sensory and developmental activities great for your babies (ranges from newborn to 12 months), as well as all milestones (cognitive, motor, language). I had to ask her to do a guest post here, as we shared a lot of similarities in views of child rearing.
Here is Bee's post, about "Why I Started Letting my 2 year old Sleep in Our Bed"
Sleep is really important to me. Wait, let me start that over. That sounds really selfish.
My baby’s sleep is really important to me. And, yes, you got me, so is my sleep- but it is secondary….seriously…
Sleep to me was very important because I believed it to be an essential part of my baby’s growth and development- both physically and cognitively. I imagined sleep was when everything she learned was reinforced, gave her mind a chance to relax from that day’s experiences (cuz let’s face it, this world is a LOT to take in), and give her body a chance to grow. I knew I wanted 3 things when it came to her sleep:
1. Have her be able to sleep in her own crib and eventually bed
2. Not have to rock her all night when she woke up
3. I did not want to achieve 1 and 2 via the cry-it-out method
A few reasons behind the 3 above. #1 was because I felt sleep was important for her developmentally, so I knew she would need to be comfortable enough to sleep on her own- aka not rely on me or other means, such as rocking- which leads to #2, which is a blend of the reason behind #1 and selfish reasons. But, I also didn’t want sleep to be such a BIG deal. I wanted it to be a natural, no fuss thing for her that she could do independently. As for the cry it out method, I do not judge negatively parents that implore this method. I just knew I, personally, didn’t have the heart for it.
So, with these 3 goals in mind, I began to read and read and therefore, became more educated on the subject. My #1 goal equated to people saying babies need to “self soothe” themselves when sleeping. I also learned about object permanence and how it makes baby’s falling asleep on their own near impossible. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ll also want to read more about what other parents don’t tell new parents about.
Long story short, my husband and I ended up using the swing method, which is essentially: let the swing rock her to sleep, wean down how much it swings until it is at 0 and she still falls asleep, and then transition her to her own crib. Sounds easy and straightforward, but man was it a grueling process. We had to be very disciplined even when failure felt like it occurred every week with all the sicknesses and set backs. But, we did it! And, at a year, we transitioned her into her own room (which was heartbreaking for me). Prior to that, her crib was in our room. I only “let her go” because again, sleep was important to me for my baby.
Then she turned 2 years old. She started sleeping in our bed. What happened?
Well, first we achieved our goal. So, that allowed a bit of wiggle room, meaning it allowed a bit of what I wanted to happen- I love cuddling with her. She’s the most adorable girl in the world, who, impossibly gets more adorable when she sleeps. I know this phase won’t last long, and I want to soak it all up and build wonderful memories for as long as I can.
So, I’m sure you’re going to ask: “well didn’t this thought apply at the very beginning?” Yes, of course it did. But, I didn’t let my selfish reasons supersede what I thought was best for her. At that point, I did what I had to do, to achieve what I, as a parent, decided was important for my little one. When she reached two, however, after a good year of solidifying the habit of her falling asleep on her own and putting herself back to sleep when she wakes up without crying, I figured….why not?
So, I balance it. Well, at least that is my justification. She still has to go to bed in her own room by herself- so we still practice this. And then, when she wakes up in the middle of the night, we bring her to our bed for some cuddles. It’s so funny now. She knows what will happen because she pops up, calls Daddy to come get her, and sits their waiting to be picked up (all stuffed animals in hand). And, every now and then, we tell her it’s still too early to come to Mommy and Daddy’s bed, and she has to fall back asleep in her own bed. When this happens, I tell myself that she still has the skill that she can flex any time.
Who cares if she’s a little dependent on us and wants to be with us. I can give her that. The only thing I have to remind myself is that I need to be sure I double check myself and make sure things are balanced. I have to ask myself: “Am I doing this for her betterment, or will this be enjoyable for her and/or me for this period of time but in the long run not be the best for her?” And then I act accordingly. For me, this same concept applies to other things, like spoiling her (when, how, and why) or giving her candy….
Yeah…I know you know what I mean. That’s a tough one. Especially when she sees all her nieces and nephews getting it so easily. I would love to cave in 100% of the time because it makes her so happy, but I know, in the long run, it is not a good habit for her body to always taste sugar. And, that it’s a good thing to delay gratification some times.
Clearly, my thoughts on sleeping will differ from others. Both my sisters had their kids sleep in their bed from day 1 until they had to wean them to their own bed around age 4/5 years old and up. And, obviously they got quality sleep and have grown to be amazing, intelligent kids. My point is that every parent will have different thresholds or different areas that this applies to. And for me, it is important to keep my personal goal as a parent in sight.
So, even though my quality of sleep isn’t the best compared to when she sleeps in her own bed because I wake up to check on her, cover her up, and she kicks me and my husband in the eye- I love having us all 3 sleep in the same bed, with the best part being when we all 3 wake up together. Her smiling, just-woke-up face is the best thing to open my eyes to each and every morning.
About guest blogger, Bee- I am one of the contributors/founders of smartbabyactivites. I love being a Mom. It is hard and challenging…and…I love it. I also want to help other parents as I think community and helping others is key to life. We focus on activities you can do with your baby that contributes to their growth and development. Here is an example article series on vision in babies and developmental activities.
Thank you so much to Christina for letting me contribute to this wonderful blog.