Thanks to Grandma Nancy for this cute outfit!

Thanks to Grandma Nancy for this cute outfit!

Yesterday, I read the beginnings of a lively thread about baby sleep at the Motherlode blog. A father-to-be claimed that his wife has already decided to co-sleep with their baby. He felt like she made the decision unilaterally, while he still had doubts and unresolved questions about the matter. I only read the first 25 of the more than 200 responses, but they certainly ran the gamut of opinions.
I have a couple of general thoughts on the matter. First, in almost everything I think it’s important to plan in advance, but impossible to make definitive decisions ahead of time. In the thick of things, almost everyone just tries to find something that works. A dogmatic commitment to co-sleeping can be just as bad as letting a baby cry for hours in a crib that she doesn’t like.*
Second, it’s very easy to overestimate the amount of control that we have over a situation. We like to explain things to ourselves in a way that makes it seem like our decisions influence outcomes, when often we can only tweak things a tiny bit. This fallacy also strikes in another way, earlier in the process: when we’re trying to make a decision, we never recognize everything that influences us, and often become convinced that we are unbiased and selecting from all of the possible options. In truth we always have biases–e.g. we read ten blogs that advocate co-sleeping, but discount ten that say its dangerous–and there are almost always other options we haven’t yet considered.
For our part, we are incredibly lucky that Elena sleeps through the night in her crib, as she has for the past several weeks. She loves to sleep. We have a little bedtime routine: I read her a book, then swaddle her tightly and take her for a goodnight kiss from Jenny, then tuck her into bed and sing her some songs. When I swaddle her, she gets a big smile on her face and holds her hands still next to her body. It’s amazing, but I hold no illusions that our routine is the reason she does this. Jenny’s brother John told us that his boys always wiggled too much for swaddling, and I believe it. So much depends on the baby’s own character. Both in the evening and when we put her down for a nap, sometimes she just lies quietly for ten or fifteen minutes before she falls asleep. Occasionally we hear her cooing and talking to herself for just a little bit.
If she didn’t want to sleep, or would only do so in our bed, then I would probably be scanning craigslist right now to find a bigger bed for the three of us. We would not force ourselves and her to stick with something that wasn’t working because of ideological preferences.

*A favorite saying: In theory, theory is better than practice, but in practice, practice is better than theory.


1 Comment

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One response to “Sleep

  1. carrie

    Elena’s lucky to have such an involved dad who reads up on mommy blogs and threads. Way to go.

    I agree – you have to do what works in your situation. For our family though, I’m also SOOOO glad Danny has learned to sleep on his own. I can’t imagine co-sleeping regularly now. On the rare occasions when we do (ie. traveling or hotels), nobody gets a good night of sleep. I think you guys are doing a fantastic job with Elena and I hope to see her again sometime soon!

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