My three older children all play baseball, so Coleton and I spend much of our springtime at the ballpark. His first baseball season he was five months old. Since I was a coach on my daughter's team, Coleton spent his time in the dugout and on the field nestled in his (team-colored) sling, watching the action and listening to the cheers, chants and noise of the play. Between swings at bat the girls would often pass him around from one to the other, entertaining him and trying to make him giggle.
That same season I met another mother with a baby boy the same age as Coleton. She always arrived with her little son belted into his car seat-stroller travel system. There he would remain, parked at the edge of the bleachers. His reclining position in the seat gave him a view of the sky and trees. When he fussed, his mother would prop a bottle in his seat and he would drink until he fell asleep. As I chatted with this other mother, as baseball moms do, I discovered the difference extended beyond the field. While Coleton's nights were spent sleeping with his Mommy by his side, nursing whenever he felt the need for comfort, the other mother was practicing sleep training-putting her baby in his crib at bedtime, and ignoring his cries until the appropriate morning hour, "teaching" him to "self soothe" himself to sleep.
Both Coleton and this other baby were quiet babies. Rarely would you hear either one of them cry. But, as I contemplated the lives of these children, I wondered how their early experiences would color their futures. Coleton's early life was filled with people-their warm arms, happy faces, cuddles and touches. He was always in the middle of life, not only enjoying his own experiences but also observing the experiences of others. His nights were no different than his days: someone was always there to heed his call. This other baby's early months were spent strapped in his stroller, hearing people, but from an uninvolved distance, except for the occasional visitor who leaned over his seat. His nights were vast hours of loneliness, his cries ignored.
Coleton's early life was filled with the golden communication of humanity, where he will most likely search to be as he grows. The other baby was shown independence and aloneness during the first part of his life. Yes, they both may have been content babies, but content with entirely different worlds-one that was people centered, one revolving around separateness from people. I find myself wondering: how will these early experiences color the men these babies will become?
As you move through these early months with your baby, take the time to consider how today's actions will affect your child in the long run. This process will help you toss off unhelpful advice as you work through your own sleep solutions.
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002. Visit Elizabeth Pantley's website at: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth
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