Addie asked: I was wondering where you fall on the baby wise-demand feeding continuum. What is your secret to finding a routine, but still following your intuition to hold them when they are upset? How do you care for your home, your children, and your health?
There are two different camps when it comes to infant routines and the basics of parenting, and both have led to confusion, frustration, and contention among friends and family. Some have defined the attachment approach to be the truly biblical manner of parenting because it demonstrates God’s love for his children with the practices of demand feeding, co-sleeping, infant wearing, etc. While others have said that adopting a schedule (the baby wise, scheduled feedings, cry-it out camp) is important to training your children to understand authority in their lives and good routine helps them thrive and grow while helping to establish that the child is not the center of the world. I don’t believe it is right to say one way is right and the other way is wrong…or that one way is more biblical than the other. This is certainly a liberty issue and we have freedom in Christ to determine the best pattern for our family structures. I am here today to share where the Lord has led us…a balance between the two.
I have one wonderful mother who falls on the scheduling side, and one wonderful mother-in-law who falls on the attachment parenting/co-sleeping side, so both my husband and I have experienced being raised by these two different camps. And you know what? There honestly is no difference between us in our levels of security, strength of relationship with our parents, or any thing else. We both grew up fully secure in our parent’s love and both family’s were happy with the routines they adopted. Although I was taught to cry it out in learning how to go to sleep, I did not feel in any way deprived from my parent’s love and affection (in fact, I am extremely blessed with a close relationship with my parents).
I say this because I want to assure every new mother out there that there is complete grace for your situation to adopt what you feel led to practice. Don’t feel guilty if you chose a more flexible on demand approach. Don’t feel guilty if you throw in the towel on co-sleeping because its stressing your marriage, as there are plenty of more opportunities to invest in your child’s well-being, physiological development, and bonding then just sleeping together with them. Adopting either of these practices will not make you a better parent. And you need not feel like a failure if either/or does not work for your family.
I love many of the ideas of attachment parenting. I love the vision of bonding with baby by being closely knitted to them through breastfeeding. I adore wearing my baby on me throughout the day with baby wraps and carriers, and cuddling up with their sweet little heads close to my heart. But I don’t practice co-sleeping, and I don’t practice demand feeding 100% of the time.
I also love many of the ideas of Baby Wise and scheduling (my mom gave me a copy of My First 300 Babies which also helped encourage a scheduled feeding/sleeping approach). I love a good simple routine. I love knowing approximately when baby will sleep and when he/she will be awake. I love having a simple plan for our feedings, so that the other responsibilities in life would fall into place. This mommy believes in the importance of sleep so she can care for her family and household to the best of her abilities. My babies are joyful and happy when they have good regular nap and bed times.
But, I don’t believe these practices are more biblical or look down on anyone who chooses another option. We are called to strive for the unity of the body, to love one another, to support and encourage each other.
So what have we chosen to do? First off, we have chosen not to practice co-sleeping.
We function on these principles…
Our marriage is our first priority.
Above all, we want to preserve the marriage bed as a sacred place for my husband and I. We want our children to understand that our marriage is a priority. When children become center stage, it is too easy for a marriage to lack growth because no time is spent together. We believe our children need to understand that there are boundaries. We need privacy to build our marriage in our communication and sexual interaction. The last thing we need is the fear of waking a child.
“Children are not more important than God – or our husbands. For their own well-being and the well-being of your marriage, children must understand that they come after your spouse. They need to know they fit into a secure place within an established set of relationships.” -Jean Fleming
Sleep is a priority for my health and emotional/physical well-being.
I have experienced the harm of being sleep-deprived for extended periods of time when I battled insomnia for 1 1/2 years. In order to be a wife and mother that is alive and well and can effectively manage the responsibilities under my care, I need to strive to get a reasonable amount of sleep each night. Yes, it may be interrupted by little ones, but with a routine and separate bed situation, they are able to start sleeping through the night far earlier. I have also found that they sleep longer and more contentedly in their own sleeping environment. Our little ones have learned to sleep through the night naturally at 6-7 weeks in their own beds, which I am extremely thankful for.
Ultimately, in making the decision whether or not to co-sleep, please make sure you prayerfully discuss it with your husband to make sure you are on the same page. The last thing you would want to do is cause a divide in your marriage because he thinks otherwise. Remember to honor your husbands for the well being of your family.
Where Do Our Babies Sleep?
So, for about the first few week or so, baby will be snuggled in with us in bed as Mommy recovers, but will transition to a moses style bassinet by 2 weeks. We then have the baby nearby in our room with until they around about 2-3 months old (and normally sleeping through the night by this point). Then our babies sleep in our closet until they grow out of the bassinet and are consistently sleeping through the night (around 10 months to 1 year). This way we have a bit more privacy, but I can easily hear if the baby awakes and needs assistance. By 1 year old, we transition them to a crib and place them together in the same room with our other children.
More to come…
COMMENT POLICY: As this can be a controversial subject, please keep your comments considerate. We do not desire any argument or debate here. We are simply seeking to help those readers who have asked.