Get that Baby to Bed!
So the next time (like, tonight) your pop-up baby pops up after you've gone down and you're feeling bad for bringing her into bed with you (again) or worried that you're going to cause future obesity by feeding her a bottle (again), take heart: You're not alone. "Although all the books and all the moms in my moms' group say I shouldn't, I usually end up nursing my son back to sleep," says Jeanie Lyudmer, mom of 71/2-month-old Jack in New York City. "I've tried other methods, and sometimes they work, but he's up again in ten minutes. This stage won't last forever, and he won't be so small and cuddly forever, so I am not going to beat myself up about it."
She's not the only one breaking "rules" after dark for the sake of a little shut-eye. "Every night, my son wakes up crying and won't stop until he's in my bed," says Sheila Wilson of Oklahoma City. "It makes his dad mad, but what more can I do when I have to wake up early to go to work?"
Sometimes it's the very rules we set for ourselves that we end up tossing out the moonlit window. Before she was pregnant, Beth Bedrin-Lindgren of Elk Grove, California, had very particular ideas about what she thought was the best way for a baby to sleep at night. Then she had her twins, Lily and Owen. Eight months later, Bedrin-Lindgren says things have turned out a bit differently. "I nurse them to sleep ... even though I swore I wouldn't. I sleep with them in our bed?even though I swore I wouldn't. And I've rocked Lily so much I thought I would scramble her brains!"
And you know that recommendation about television? The one that says infants under age 2 shouldn't watch any at all? Let's just say that most of the moms we talked to don't exactly agree. And while studies have shown that television may actually hype babies up, making it more difficult for them to fall asleep, it's hard to argue that point at 1:45 a.m. with a rattled mom whose little popper-upper won't stop fussing until she's watching a late-night superglue infomercial.
When her daughter was around 12 months, Janey Goude of Lexington, South Carolina, "finally appreciated having a TV in our bedroom, something I'd always been opposed to. I'd prop her up between me and my husband and put a Barney tape in. In no time, she'd be out. That purple dinosaur never sounded so good!"
Good night and good luck
Now, we're not ones to advocate toilet-papering your neighbor's house or graffiti-ing your name on bathroom stalls, but a little rule breaking, especially when it comes to middle-of-the-night sleep troubleshooting, can be healthy. It means you're listening to your gut and trusting that you know your child -- and what works for him -- better than anyone else. Do you want to babyproof your bed before co-sleeping? Of course; go to AskDrSears.com for complete safe co-sleeping guidelines. Do you want to make sure your child is fastened securely into his swing, glider, or bouncy? Certainly. Do you consider a wet diaper, a fever, or illness as a possible cause for your babe's night waking? Duh. But here's the thing: We're all good moms (you better believe it!), and we're all just doing our best to help the whole family get some rest, which is a huge factor in every human's happiness quotient How to Be a Happier Mom). Whether we're putting them in swings, letting them sleep with us, giving them a bottle, or doing any of the other quirky back-to-sleep strategies we've discovered work for our tykes, we're doing it lovingly. And that, in our estimation, is what makes for a good night's rest.
Patty Onderko is a senior editor at Babytalk.