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Attachment Parenting

"Bedtime Battles" and AP
From Our AP Forum Archives
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From Kellie: I'm somewhat new to AP as our 1-year-old dd is an only child (so far), and I've pretty much learned what I know about AP from this message board and from the Dr. Sears book. Last night I was reading the latest issue of American Baby and to quote from an article on "Bedtime Battles," ". . . If you prefer cuddling to crying, consider the following. A new study by the University of California at Davis found that babies who do not learn to put themselves to sleep at bedtime by age 1 are far more likely to be waking during the night by age 3 and needing help to fall back to sleep. In other words, play softy now and you'll likely pay an exhausting price for a long time to come."

This article is certainly troubling to me and has made me question myself and how does AP fall into this formula of "Bedtime Battles"? My "bedtime battle" now is getting our dd to fall asleep without drinking from a bottle. She usually goes to bed around 7:30 or 8 p.m. Once she's asleep, I usually put her in her crib where she sometime sleeps through the night, but if not, she is brought to bed with us. For those of you who co-sleep, do you have to worry about bedtime battles? Also, I'm sure at some point we'll have to break our dd of the habit of going to sleep drinking from a bottle and I'm not sure if I'm prepared to make her cry herself to sleep, nor am I prepared to go to bed myself with her at 7:30 p.m. My confusion is how do I AP and avoid a bedtime battle? I'm not sure if my question(s) make sense, but I know it will be a challenge to get dd to sleep without her bottle and I'm not sure how we'll do it without creating some tears. And in the end, will she learn how to put herself to sleep?

This leads me to another concern of once dd is older and sleeping in a real bed, how do you AP and keep your child IN their bed? The article in American Baby talks about locking the door or putting a gate across the door. This seems abhorrent to me, but I know we'll reach a point where dd won't want to stay in her bed. What do you do?

From Ms.Dmoe: I was about to post on this same article. I was upset by it to say the least; however I tried to remember it was aimed to assist crib sleeping infants and not AP styles (in fact it even mentions that unless you are CHOOSING to co-sleep you need to do this and that). What upset me was that no matter the problem with sleeping their answer was to CIO and that you can't get a kid to sleep without at least a week of nights with HOURS of screaming and crying for you. They even state that it goes AGAINST your instincts as a parent. My question is why do it then? The second thing that really cheesed me off was they said to give them a lovie because they had more control over that then the comfort you provide. Control?

Anyway, that is my vent on the subject. Sigh. I don't have any answers to your questions though since dd is only 3 months and we both go to bed at the same time. I was angered by the advice in that article though!

From SusanH: I've seen that study, and there is one very obvious flaw - they made no attempt to determine why the children at any given age were unable to fall asleep on their own. It seems clear to me that a child who has trouble falling asleep alone at age one may well continue to have trouble falling asleep alone at a later age. Some people just don't fall asleep easily, and leaving them to cry is not, IMO, an acceptable solution. My DH (who slept in a crib as a baby) has problems with insomnia and is usually unable to fall asleep without reading a book. He is far less likely to fall asleep if left alone in a dark room. So I don't see why that would be the magic solution for a baby who has trouble falling asleep.

Anyway, I don't have any bedtime battles. I usually nurse Susy to sleep, but sometimes she'll nurse for a while and then roll over and "sing" to herself before falling asleep 5 or 10 minutes later. I know a lot of people are strongly against nursing to sleep, but I'm not one of them. Susy and I usually go to sleep at the same time, but if I want to get up and do something she generally doesn't protest (or even notice).

As for locking your child in their room, that's a clear fire hazard and just stupid. When Susy moves into her own room, she will always be welcome to join us in ours if she is frightened or lonely. I vividly recall having nightmares as a child and being told that I couldn't sleep in my parents' bed. I remember lying in bed terrified to fall back to sleep. I won't do that to my child just because our society feels that sleeping near your children is somehow perverse or wrong.

From Gayesy: Bedtime in our house is almost always a relaxing and lovely time. Thomas has NEVER cried himself to sleep, nor have we had any troubles getting him to go to bed or stay in bed. Admittedly, his bed is still our bed (well, we have a queensize and a single bed side by side so it is like one huge bed really). Bedtime is a time for cuddles, stories, maybe a bit of TV (please don't say anything about THAT one LOL), and nursing.

Thomas goes to sleep pretty easily most nights and now sleeps the whole night almost every night without needing any nursing or anything else during the night. Occasionally we have a bit of a kicking problem but apart from that it is just so easy, so loving and so wonderful that I really look forward to bedtime.

I am totally against CIO and locking a child in his/her room. In my opinion, if a child keeps getting out of bed to come and see you then probably he isn't yet ready for sleeping alone! Why not just accept that and sleep together? If a child is really ready to sleep alone in a room then getting up will not be a problem - perhaps they will get up once to go to the toilet, perhaps they will come into your room halfway through the night and stay there on a mattress on the floor or in your bed if there is room. I think that flexibility is the key here. Go with whatever your child seems to need and what she is ready for. Adjust what you do and meeting your own needs around that. Everyone can be happy!

From Juliet: I have been reading the American Baby and the Parenting magazine for a while now, and I will be honest in my opinion, it is soooooooo totally not AP style. They seem to recommend schedules at 3-4 months for breastfeeding, CIO, separate sleeping areas etc. One of those magazines did run an article about extended breastfeeding to a 1 year old and it was called "closet breastfeeding." That totally ****** me off.

Do what you feel is right, don't take the studies to heart, pick out what you want and leave the rest. As it was Gaysey said, if they keep getting up and down at night and crying they probably aren't ready to be away from you!! Think of it this way, wouldn't you be scared stiff if you where alone, scared, in a room all by yourself with no one to run to and no one to cuddle you? I know I would be petrified!!

From Oz's Mommy: I am constantly amazed at "mainstream" parenting and the information that is put before us. And the more time I spend as a parent, the more amazed I am. Why exactly the time spent trying to convince our dear ones that they are ready for bed? Doesn't that title alone fence a normal transitional routine into something unpleasant?

I really like what I read one time about the Japanese philosophy of parenting. The mainstream Western philosophy seems to be that a child starts as a dependent being, and must be trained (quickly!!) to become independent. The Japanese believe that the baby is an independent being, and needs to be taught how to join in. Co-sleeping teaches the little one how to function as part of the group. Isn't that a marvelous thought?

Gosh, if we stayed up till 3 every night, Owen would be right there with us!!! I truly feel that if I didn't provide cues for him like soft music, lights out, routine, and nursing, he wouldn't be able to put himself to sleep. It's just the way he's wired. (You may have heard me describe him as Tigger crossed with Puck) If I tried to follow these "mainstream ways" I'd have a miserable little man on my hands. And I'd be miserable listening to him cry, and knowing I could soothe him, not doing it because "someone" says I'm not "supposed to".

I remember being scared by a dream, or by something I saw on TV, and being left alone in the dark to cope. Alone. And very very frightened. And knowing on top of the fear, I would get in trouble if I sought consolation. There is nothing to be gained by leaving a child alone to "deal with it". Geez, and locking the child in their room is *just* plain stupid! What about fire safety? Oh, right, that's what those flame-retardant PJ's are for. Oh, and even though Owen doesn't "put himself" to bed at night, he does sleep through the night just fine! He only occasionally wakes enough to eat (in his sleep) and we both just drift off

As far as staying put? I think he'll sleep where he's most comfortable. If that's in our room for a few years, then it is. With the door unlocked.

From CrystalbusyMom: Dh and I were just arguing (again) about this very topic. He is falling for anti attachment parenting information hook line and sinker and I know better (sigh and he won't listen to me or read any accurate information or think for himself.) He calls all aspects of attachment parenting wish washy parenting. He wants our children in bed by 8 instead of when they are tired. Fine I tell him just be prepared to have them wake up at 4:00 in the morning FOR THE DAY! (They require very little sleep.) He isn't willing to do this "because he has to go to work at 6:00." Well, translation he expects my day to start at 4:00? Nope, I will let the children stay up until they are naturally tired so that they will sleep in until 9! Is there an attachment parenting DH auction site online where I can trade in or buy a new DH?

From lolly: I have a quote that interested me: "Until the last decade, doctors generally advised parents to put their infants to sleep on their stomachs. This "prone" position was believed to be best because it seemed to guard against choking. It also promoted longer periods of deeper sleep."

In other words, the reason our babies don't sleep through the night is because we've all been taught to put them to bed facing up. Not because we're indulgent and spoiling them.

The quote is from an article in March's "Today's Parent" (I get the Canadian edition) by Bonnie Reichert, whose book "In Search of Sleep: Straight Talk about Babies and Night Waking" sounds like it'll be the new AP sleep bible. I can't wait for it to hit the stands! I heard her on the radio blasting Ferber-style schedules and detachment-pushing doctors. At the same time, she sounds like she doesn't council any particular style of parenting. My impression is that it's a well-rounded look at different styles. If anyone's read it I'd love to hear impressions.

From momofsugarplum: Bedtime at our house is very lovely as well. Raiden co-slept with me until he was almost 2. He always slept really well and loved to nurse and fall asleep. Now, he is in his crib. After sleeping together for so long I'm constantly up in the middle of the night checking on him. But, he sleeps very soundly. We always do bath time and pj's and then go in my bed and we play and read. Then, I take him to his bed and tuck him in and start his lullaby tape. I sing one song to him and turn his lamp on and he sits and plays with his stuffed animal and a book for about 30 minutes before lying down and going to sleep. He does this every night and when he does cry which isn't very often, I have never "let him cry it out". I know something is wrong, he isn't feeling well, he is scared, something is wrong and he needs his mommy for comfort. I don't think tending to your child's needs in any way will make them have bedtime battles.

From abuddi: I read the same article and almost questioned my decision to listen to my child and be aware of her needs and wants. My dd is almost 14 months and does not nurse to sleep anymore, but she gets a bath, snack and reads every night before I rock her to sleep. She isn't sleeping through the night yet, and I usually nurse her twice before morning, three times on the weekend so we can sleep in a little

From mom2jazzygirl: Bedtime in our house used to be a pleasant experience. We ARE doing the bedtime battle. DD always refused to co-sleep, so she was in her own bed at an early age. When we moved into a house with stairs, I would nurse her to (what I THOUGHT) was sleep, then DH would take her to her crib. Turned out, she wasn't fully asleep. Over time, nursing worked less and less until she would go to her crib wide awake and settle herself to sleep (by 13 months).

Fast forward to age 2, we got her a toddler bed. Things worked GREAT for a while. Not any longer. Seems freedom has gone to her head. We put her to bed between 7 and 9 (when she shows signs of being tired). At that point (despite a consistent routine) the battles begin. It takes 2 HOURS before she settles down to go to sleep. She gets up, runs downstairs, fights, sasses and SCREAMS those 2 hours away until she finally falls asleep in utter exhaustion!

We constantly remind ourselves this is temporary. She keeps a toy store in her bed with her and a suitcase of books beside her bed that she may read. As long as she doesn't come out of her room, we leave her alone. Unfortunately, she is 2 and doesn't quite get this concept. For now, she gets 1 warning. After that, we take a toy for every time she comes out of the room. On the rare occasions that we take all her toys, she can pick only one to sleep with. After that, we start taking blankets (she has a dozen). I don't know what I would do if she still got up with one blanket left, we got down to that one blanket once but she didn't get up again.

So, what's the point of this? I WISH she would go to sleep with our help. I would love to rock her or nurse her, and I never minded the night wakings. Be careful what you wish for. Just because some study says its better, consider what it means. Do you REALLY want to switch places with me just to know your child will sleep all night? I would gladly trade places with any one of you and eliminate the bedtime battle, but it wasn't to be with her personality!

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