KatieKatie Katie Parsons is the creator of Mumbling Mommy and is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist. She works from her home office on the east coast of Florida. Most often she writes about life in a combined family of five children and what it's like being a work-from- home parent. You can contact her by emailing katie@mumblingmommy.com.

By Elizabeth

Dear Mumbling Mommy,

I write for any open
suggestions on how to transition my child over to his crib? He is seven months
old. He is quickly outgrowing the glider that he is currently sleeping over six
hours a night in. When I try to put him in his crib his eyes instantly open and
the fit begins. It’s the same with nap time. Then you start the sleeping
process all over again. When people find out he is not sleeping in his crib, I get the
snickers and “the looks” like I am doing something wrong or am not
strong enough to let him “cry it out”. I’ve tried the cry it out
method, multiple times. The child is strong willed, and determined, (which are
great traits to have in life, just not toward bed time!) There is got to be a
secret to make this a smooth transition.

_________________

Dear Frustrated Mommy,

Consider co-sleeping instead of a crib
The first piece of advice I have for you is “don’t worry
about what your friends think.” Being a mom is hard enough without worrying
about what everyone else thinks about the job we’re doing.

Friends, strangers, grandparents, etc. don’t get to decide
how our babies sleep. That’s a personal decision that is up to the family
involved only. And you’re under no obligation to give a status report on where
he sleeps or how long, except perhaps to your baby’s doctor. Your baby reminds
you of my second son, so I’d like to share from my experiences with my two
boys.

My first son, Jonathan, started off in a hand-me-down
bassinet that he outgrew in 6 weeks. Then we moved him to the crib in his nursery,
down the hall from us. Even though we had a small house, I would faithfully
listen to the baby monitor each night to keep track of his sleeping. He was a
good sleeper and started “sleeping through the night” at about 3 months. No
problems, and no, we didn’t try any “cry it out” methods. But every time he was
sick, I would be up half the night going back and forth between his room and
our room or with him on the couch in the middle of the night. On those nights,
I barely slept, but I thought that’s just how it was supposed to be.

When he was two and a half, we had my second son, Lucas.
Lucas was radically different from his brother from Day One. He cried louder,
nursed harder, and did everything with an intensity and will that we weren’t
quite prepared for. We had gotten rid of the rickety bassinet and got a
co-sleeper crib instead. We loved it, though he sometimes still wanted to be up
against me instead of a whole 12 inches away in his sleeper. He outgrew it (and
we moved to another state) when he was 7 months old.

At that point we were living with my parents while our old
house sold, and they put a crib in our bedroom. We put Lucas down in the crib
each night, but it took forever to get him to settle into it, and he still woke
in the night. He did not like going back into the crib, and we lost a lot of
sleep trying to get him to do so. After several nights, we realized it was
easier on everyone just to let him sleep with us. He ended up spending about a
third of the night in his crib and the rest of the time with us. That’s when we
realized we were “co-sleeping,” something we had heard of with our firstborn
but never tried full-time.

We moved again when he was 10 months and were in a 2-bedroom
apartment. We initially put the boys together in the second bedroom, but we
weren’t sure if Lucas would stay there. He would not go down in his crib at all
in the new place, and it was miserable trying to get him to sleep in it. Plus,
his complaining kept his brother from sleeping. We gave up on the crib quickly
and let him “move in” with us full-time.

Some might ask why we didn’t fight harder to let him “cry it
out.” That theory has never appealed to us, and we’ve never used it. An
increasing body of scientific evidence backs this up; responding to babies’
cries and co-sleeping are good for both mom and baby. As one expert writes, babies
“were not designed biologically or psychologically to sleep in complete social
isolation.” 
That quote is from James Dr. McKenna, PhD, Chair
of Anthropology and Director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab at the
University of Notre Dame. His sleep lab has conducted a number of studies on
co-sleeping and discovered that when babies sleep with their parents, both the
babies and the parents sleep better and have a closer relationship, too.

Co-sleeping needs to be safe, and there is a lot of
information on how to do it safely. Dr. McKenna’s website provides a lot of information on how to do this. 

We moved into our new house a year ago, and Lucas still
slept with us for a while. Eventually we set him up in a toddler bed in his
brother’s room. He can get in and out of it easily; we didn’t want him to be
trapped in a larger bed as if it was a crib. He still likes to sleep with us
for the last part of the night. When he’s sick, he’s with us for the whole
night, and I know how he’s breathing or if he’s running a fever. I’m not
sitting up all night in the other room, or worried over the monitor, like I was
with my firstborn. I’ve found co-sleeping to be a wonderful solution for our
active, intense child.

My husband has enjoyed the co-sleeping arrangement, too. He
felt like he bonded with our second son faster than with the first one, and
it’s been much easier for him to put Lucas down or comfort him.

It’s not up to me how or where your baby sleeps. But if he
wants to be with you, look into how to do it safely, and give co-sleeping a
try. You might find that the best way to deal with the crib is to get rid of it
altogether.

More Resources:

You can contact Elizabeth by emailing her at elizabeth@mumblingmommy.com

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