Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lullabye and Goodnight...

So a while ago, I was asked about my philosophies on babies and sleep ~ do I let them cry it out, do I co-sleep, etc.?

I know this is a very controversial subject, so I want to go into this conversation saying, "We need sleep! We all do, babies, children, teenagers {though mine might beg to differ}, adults.  When our sleep banks are empty, we can experience all sorts of ailments, including mental health issues.  So, sometimes you have to do what is right for your family."

OK - that said, here is what it looks like in our family!

When our babies are brand new and until they are about 6 months {give or take} old we co-sleep with them.  Now, I can hear some of you saying, "that is so dangerous!" and "Don't you worry about you or your husband rolling over on the baby?"  Remember...we are doing what works for us!

I discovered co-sleeping long before the term was popular, when our 22 year, Tristen, was a baby.  At that point in my life, I was a die hard, "they should be in their own bed" person.  Then one night, in a state of sheer exhaustion, I brought her to bed to nurse.  While nursing her, I ended up falling asleep!  The next morning, I awoke completely refreshed with her by my side and she didn't sleep in her own bed another night until she was about 6 months old.

Now, we usually have a bassinet in our room.  I will change the baby and nurse him or her, and put them to bed in the bassinet.  When they wake up, I bring them to bed with me, and we spend the rest of the night together.  When the baby is between my husband and I, I put my arm around the baby so that if he were to begin to roll our way, I simply swat him a couple of times and he rolls back.

This method has worked for 8 babies.  We have never even had a close call with one of us rolling over onto the baby.  (I do want to caution, that if you use any sort of drugs, including prescription, or alcohol - you SHOULD NOT co-sleep!)

This has worked for every baby but one ~ Hudson!  From day one, Hudson would not nurse in a lying down position!  I spent our first night home with him sleeping in a rocking chair while he nursed in a more upright position.  It wasn't until he was a year old that we discovered he had acid reflux...but that is a story for another day.

So, how do we transition?

Somewhere around the 6 month mark,  I start finding that the tossing and turning of the baby causes less sleep than getting up with them in the middle of the night would.  So, they get the privilege of sleeping in their own cribs!

This has looked different for different children!  I AM NOT a "cry it out" mom!  My husband feels even stronger than I do about this!  Honestly, I have asked myself, "would Mary have allowed Jesus to cry it out?"  To which my heart tells me, "no"! 

Does this mean that my kiddos don't do a bit of crying in their cribs?  Well, sometimes...  Sometimes I have had a kiddo that is obviously fit throwing and not simply needing food or comfort.  Sometimes I have turned down the monitor intending to get out of bed and then find myself waking later with a baby that went back to sleep.  Sometimes I have allowed a few short minutes of crying to see if my child will settle themselves.

Some of my children have been champion sleepers!  Some of my children have needed Mama multiple times in the night.  I go with my heart!

There are some tips for getting children to be more on your schedule than their own:

Routine, routine, routine!  I am not saying, "schedule, schedule, schedule!"  {In my experience, mommies who have strict eat/sleep schedules for their babies end up losing their milk supply early.}  But, a routine is important.  We all have natural routines that bring us comfort and will awaken our systems - the morning shower, coffee, breakfast - or tell our systems it's time for sleep - changing into jammies, reading for a short while, prayer.

The same goes for children.  They will know when it is bedtime if you have the same routine every night.  Currently with Claire {11months} we get in our jammies, nurse, read a few stories, sing the same three songs, then lie down in the crib {with her dolly and the same blanket every night}.  She rarely fusses!  While I am working through this routine, I say, "it's time to go nigh - nigh" multiple times. 

My older "littles" get a similar routine - except they don't nurse! Papa usually does their stories while Mama is putting baby down.

Remember ~ "Longest days, shortest years!"  Try to keep your lack of sleep in perspective!  When my "olders" were little, I was constantly working for them to sleep through the night! I longed for it!  I felt like a bad mom if I couldn't get them on my schedule.  As I have had more babies and more years to work through it, I realize that this time passes so quickly and those middle of the night moments are fleeting! 

One last thought!  I do believe the Bible speaks to some of these topics! 

Regarding co-sleeping: Luke 11:7 "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed."  {Ken tells me it's because they didn't all have beds to sleep in - it still sounds like co-sleeping to me!}

And of course there are multiple references to "the night watches":

“Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord” (Lamentations 2:19a)

“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises” (Psalm 119:147-148)

Embrace the night watches! Use the time to pray and meditate on His word!  See what God may have to speak to your heart as you are comforting your precious blessings!

Please, please send me your questions!  Surely many have arisen!  I will answer them in the comments section!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!


  1. I needed this after last night. I praise God for having someone like you speak into my life. I am so blessed by your blog!

  2. Okay. I did think of a question though. Do you use other types of soothers with your kids? ie: pacifiers. I used a pacifier with Linnea, because she wanted to nurse 24/7 literally, and my body couldn't take it. How would you suggest weaning a baby off of them?

  3. {Blessed Mama} - some of my kiddos would take a pacifier, others wouldn't. I simply took it away at one year...no fanfare...lots of other people to it differently, but this is what worked for us! You bless me too - you should know! :)

  4. I agree with this... You are so right on. We co slept for awhile then did a gentle approach to getting them to fall asleep on their own. There was a time when Connor especially would get up several times during the night. Although exhausted.. Those times were when I heard God speak to me most and when I did a lot of my praying. I cherish those times. kids are so little for such a short time. We tried crying out mostly from pressure of others..when the kids would vomit from crying..i decided we would take a longer yet more gentle approach. They are great sleepers and I don't regret the way we directed their sleep. Thanks for sharing. :-). Jen hynek

  5. @Jen- With Sarah I was feeling some pressure to let her "cry it out", and began the quest to see what everyone else was doing...I was hearing story after story of kids vomitting from crying...one morning in church I was hearing yet another version of this story and a sweet elderly woman overheard it too. She pulled me aside, put her hand on my shoulder and said, "You do not have to let them cry it out...enjoy your babies." That statement set me free! I like your term "gentle approach" ...that is what we do too! Thanks for the comment!

  6. With my first, he was in his own room almost from day one, although not because that was our plan. It started because of his jaundice and light bed therapy. We couldn't sleep with that blue light in our bedroom. Then we all just slept so well that way, it stuck. He also used a pacifier, which was great. Although at 6 months old we got tired of having to go in a dozen times a night just to put the paci back in, so we took it away. We ended up doing the CIO method with him, mostly because if we tried to go in and comfort him it only made him scream louder. So, after three nights of letting him cry himself to sleep he started going to sleep much more easily and happily.
    #2 has been a little different, mostly because he's a thumb-sucker and soothes himself to sleep without a peep. We've never done any sleep training with him. But he's gone back and forth from sleeping 12 hours straight to waking up at 3am for a feeding. I'm not sure if I should feed him at 3, or try to get him back to sleep without it since I know he can. He's such a big baby, he doesn't NEED the calories. But it seems to be the only way to settle him down so he'll sleep again. Any advice on how to get an almost-9-month-old to sleep through the night?
    - Jenai

    1. I have the exact same "problem." I know he (9 months old today) can sleep through the night, but he's got colds, is teething, etc. I do try to let him cry it out. But usually the longer I wait, the more he cries, the less sleep I'm getting. Not sure what to do about that as well.

  7. I love that you addressed this the way you did. We're all individuals and so are babies. With everything parents need to do what works for them, so long as they're using good common sense. With my son, I had the bassinette in our room, right by my side of the bed, and he slept in that for the first 2 months. Then I moved him to his room and a crib. When he cried in the night or at nap time, as you said, I gave him a few minutes to see if he meant it, or if he just settled back down. If I could tell he wasn't going to stop, I would go in his room before the crying escalated to full on fit, and leave him in his crib, but rub his back and sing or talk soothingly to him. Often he'd go back to sleep. I wanted to let him know he hadn't been abandoned, but he wasn't necessarily going to be able to get up either. When we first moved him to his room, he'd be asleep, and his dad would go to check on him, and would turn the night light on. Took me forever to break his dad of this habit. He'd say, well I don't want him to be afraid of the dark. He's not, so stop turning the light on, or he will be! lol

  8. Valerie has surprised me lately. We end up switching to big kid beds about 20 months because I have a bunch of monkey climbers! Valerie, at 17 months, has very peacefully been going to bed in a twin with a rail on the side, we lay down read a book and then voila! She's still in the crib at naptime, but I've been surprised how much she's loving sleeping in the twin bed! She also sleeps there all night and waits for me to come get her in the morning, even though she could easily get down.

  9. Being a Cook kiddo myself, I have witnessed the co-sleeping and assumed that's what everyone did. We did that with our first daughter, Kaylee, and now again with River. It wasn't until I had to sign a waiver at the hospital in order to co-sleep after birth, and then a girlfriend asked me why I wasn't afraid that I would roll over on her that I realized most of this generation is afraid to co-sleep! She told me that she would never get any sleep if she co-slept with her daughter because she would be so worried about rolling over on her. I think that this worry is essential for co-sleeping, because it means you are always aware of your child! Sure you may not get much sleep the first couple times, but then the worry settles into awareness and you're golden!
    Kaylee only slept with us for 4 months, when I noticed that she slept better without me in the bed. That's when we moved her to her own crib. Funny thing is I found that I didn't feel ready to sleep without her, and I felt like a bad mom for making my infant sleep alone. But when I tried bringing her back to bed, she just wouldn't sleep and was cranky during the day because she wasn't sleeping well at night! So much for my little bed buddy!

  10. Love your blog, Lora. A fellow LifeGrouper gave me the link. And this is just what I needed to read today. My third kiddo is such a little individual. I co-slept with my first two and even though it was sometimes physically difficult getting kicked and hugged to death during the night, it was easier. We probably let them co-sleep way too long. My daughter was with us till she was about 4! Anyway, kiddo 3 doesn't like sleeping in our bed but he doesn't like sleeping in his crib lately either. Last night I was up *every single hour* and I'm exhausted. Thanks for the good perspective. And it's true, I pray a lot more during the night watches than during the day when things are hitting me right and left. Have a great day!