One of the very first (useless & unsolicited) pieces of advice I received concerning my son, was to let him cry himself to sleep. The advice came from a friend of my husband’s who has 4 kids, and therefore thinks she invented parenthood. She insisted that it was the “best” thing for him and for us, because ya know “he needs to learn how to put himself to sleep.”
My husband, like every new dad in the world, was totally convinced in about 2.5 seconds. He felt that she had to be right, because she had so many kids, and because other people had been telling him the same thing. Poor thing, he was so clueless. When my husband and I were alone, he brought up the topic again and… wait a minute… was he trying to convince me to let my son cry himself to sleep? You bet your ass, he was!
At that time, my son was only 4 months old. I shut it down. He will turn 1 in 2 weeks, and I am glad I didn’t listen. I still rock him to sleep every night, and I will keep doing it for as long as he lets me. Yes, my back is often sore. Yes, I am tired – especially since I am 5 months pregnant with his little brother. But so what?
Let’s back paddle for a second, and think about why people think that kids “need to learn how to put themselves to sleep.” Anyone can think of any reason other than convenience for the parents? What truly bugs me about this idea, is the word “need” – why? Why that word? Why would an infant “need” to learn to fall asleep by himself, and why should the process involve crying himself to sleep? This reasoning simply does not make sense to me, and it probably never will.
I refuse to let my son cry his eyes out. I am his mom, a.k.a. Protector of the Universe (well, his universe at least) – so why should I abandon him when he needs me? Sleep is supposed to be a peaceful moment, so the idea of letting him cry himself to sleep is very much contradictory: why cause him anxiety and stress, when I want him to sweetly drift off to sleep? No. No thank you. If my son wants me to hold him and snuggle him to sleep, you can bet his Super Mama will be there to do it. In fact, my son and I have a routine down, to the point that I barely have to hold him for 5-10 minutes until he’s sound asleep and I can put him down in his crib. He goes down around 8,30pm and doesn’t wake until around 6.30am the next morning – and I like to think that his mindset before going to sleep has a lot to do with the quality of his sleep.
As a general rule I have always refused to put my son through something that I would not like to do myself (unless I have no choice). As a result I refuse to give him medicine that tastes bad, I refuse to give him food that tastes bad and I refuse to let him cry his eyes out. I don’t like to cry, in fact, who does? Crying myself to sleep is more painful than anything else, so why put my son through it to “teach” him something he will eventually learn to do on his own? No. No thank you.
Call me naive, judge me all you want – I don’t care. Soon enough (much too soon) my son will not need me to fall asleep anymore. Soon enough (much too soon) he will march himself to his room and go to bed all on his own. Soon enough (much too soon) I will only be “mom” and I will have to retire my “Protector of the Universe” outfit – and that day, that day I will be the one crying myself to sleep. Until then, I will hold him every second that he needs me to.