I had planned today to post my review of Jane and the Dragon. However I was quite distracted by a Facebook message from a friend who has recently become a new mum. She was asking for help because she wasn’t sure her tiny new son was getting enough sleep. She also worried that she was creating a terrible dependency by not teaching him to self-soothe yet – at the tender age of six weeks.
I had almost forgotten what those early months were like. Between the immense lack of sleep and the thousand different things books/people/the internet/your conscience tells you that you should be doing you lose all self-confidence.
It’s a brave new world, motherhood, and no amount of books or babysitting prepares you for when it is your child cuddling up to your chest, so tiny in your hands you can’t believe he took up so much space in your belly. You may have a clever friend or family member who is wise enough to tell you to trust yourself and do what feels right, but listening to them and not the plethora of information around you is harder said than done.
While all that information can be important, you will find no end to conflicting advice if you read enough. This is where that trust comes in. Trust in yourself. Don’t put your baby in a cot in another room if that doesn’t feel right to you. Don’t put your baby in your own bed with you if it doesn’t feel right to you. Both sleeping options are perfectly fine(as long as you follow precautions such as safety guidelines and SIDs prevention tips) and I assure you neither will affect the likelihood of your child growing up to be a psychopath (never did the research for this sorry, but I’m pretty damn sure). Some studies will tell you your child will gain independence better if he sleeps in another room, some other studies will tell you he will grow up and be more faithful to future partners if he co-sleeps (I kid you not, I saw research which claimed to prove this). Research can be skewed by the opinions of the gatherers all too easily.
You can probably guess I hail from the parenting school of ‘do what works for your family’. As long as you follow safety guidelines, the advice to prevent SIDs and common sense then I see no reason to do something that doesn’t feel right for your family. If asked I give advice but I will never be offended if the receiver doesn’t follow it. Just because something works for Xander and I does not mean it will work for my friend and her child. She is not a clone of me and her son is not a carbon copy of Xander, thus what worked for us may not be so efficacious for them.
All I can hope is that every new mother can find faith in herself and look forward to a long and beautiful life with their new children.
Note: I used ‘he’ throughout this post only because I have a son, feel free to imagine it a ‘she’ if you prefer, my advice is not gender exclusive. Do also focus on the fact I say “As long as you follow safety guidelines, the advice to prevent SIDs and common sense” I’m not advising anyone throw out safety! Though I would hope no one would feel something was right if it were dangerous I do recall those early days to be crazy and hazy at times.
I still remember those stressful days so well, and being blasted by another mother because I got a sleep nurse in for Heidi at around 6 weeks old. She made me feel so guilty, yet I was only getting 1-2 hours sleep and what was worse, Heidi was only getting 1-2 hours sleep. Sensory issues and food allergies as we now know but god it was a waking nightmare for the first couple of months of her life until we got the sleep stuff and food allergies sorted out.
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Surely another mother should know the dreadful lack of sleep or at least sympathise? And if neither you nor Heidi were getting any real sleep there would be no other option anyway. Then again, some people are pretty crazy and forceful with their opinions. I left two different mother’s groups (and consequently stopped trying to find one) because of how harshly some women reacted to the way I chose to raise Xander and nothing I was/am doing is outlandish.