Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Parenting and all that jazz

Parenting styles: co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping, cry it out vs. cuddle to sleep, schedule vs. meeting baby’s every demand, cloth diapering vs. disposable, full breastfeeding vs. ecological breastfeeding vs. partial breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding (I need to do a post on just breastfeeding), and every other parenting decision out there. It’s all a bit insane. And each theory gives you the feeling that if you don’t do it THEIR WAY your kid will be messed up, and it will be YOUR FAULT! Huh, how awesome for us new parents.

First of all, in the parenting materials I have read you hear a whole lot about SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, basically this is when a baby dies in their sleep for an unexplained reason. It is thrown around in parenting materials like mad.

For instance, sleep—there are basically three camps, co-sleepig, crib sleeping, and some inbetwenny crib attached to bed type sleeping. Co-sleeping proponents say that their method helps bond you to the baby, get more sleep, breastfeed efficiently and ultimately prevents SIDS. Crib sleeping proponents say that your baby will die if it sleeps with you, and that crib sleeping encourages independence, more sleep for the parents, more sleep for baby, and better scheduling. The inbetweeners say you get the best of both. There are hardcore camps for every baby issue there is, from eating to diapers to toys. And do you notice the DEATH THEME? Great, as if new parents aren’t scared enough they are told that if they make one wrong move their little baby will die. I realize some babies really don’t make it, and this is tragic, and we should make sure we understand how to keep a baby safe, but for those things where conflict lies, listen to you doctor/midwife, maybe your mom, and your own gut feeling.

I haven’t been a parent for very long, but we realized quickly that we weren’t going to be strictly following one particular parenting philosophy. We go with what our gut instinct is and with what works. It’s a tricky balance between listening to the rest of the world and doing it how works for your family. I also think that the individual child has a lot to do with it, although for me this is mostly theoretical since I only have one kid. But crib sleeping may be perfect for one kid and not for another. I’ve used the example of how a baby sleeps through this post because I think the way we do sleeping perfectly exemplifies our parenting style. We started out co-sleeping, but at some point decided we wanted our bed back to ourselves, so we started setting Lu down in her crib when she fell asleep in the evenings. Since she is sleeping for pretty long stretches at night this usually means she falls asleep around 7:30pm at night and sleeps in her crib until about 4:30am when she wakes up hungry. At this point, either Andy or I stumble through the hall to her room, pick her up and deposit her in bed next to me for a lay-down, go-back-to-sleep feeding. (FYI lying down breastfeeding has been instrumental to our parenting sanity, particularly the first few weeks after Lu was born). Then I fall back to sleep while Luthien has her little night time snack, and she falls back to sleep after eating. Then she sleeps with us until we wake up in the morning. This system started mostly on accident. We wanted our bed back so total co-sleeping was out, but the first time Lu woke up hungry I just pulled her in bed with us and went back to sleep while she ate. So we aren’t against co-sleeping or crib sleeping, we do both, this combination just works for our lives, and for Luthien. I'm as she gets older it will change to fit her needs and our needs.

I think it’s interesting that the method that works for us is a combination of two divided sides. I also know that this method might not work for a different baby, or a different couple. I also know that I’m tired of being told that I am going to hurt my child if I don’t subscribe to some particular parenting philosophy.

This is Luthien at five months and she is happy, healthy, and super active despite our lack of a hard a fast parenting rule.


  1. I am right there with you! You know how much I have struggled to get Therese to sleep, and I have tried all 3 of those sleeping methods, plus lots in between. I hated reading baby books and always being told I was ruining Therese for co-sleeping or laying her down in her crib to cry.

  2. Yeah, it seems like parenting is one of those places where people always feel like they can tell you that you're wrong...silly, scary books.