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For Crying It Out Loud- Why Parenting Makes for Strange Bedfellows

When you think of hot topics that bring out the worst in people on public parenting forums most people tend to think breastfeeding, or circumcision, or spanking. But if you ask me, the most debated topic by parents- both new and more experienced- is how the hell to get an infant to sleep. Parents will try anything to get their infants to go down. They will even go against their own better judgment to get just a few hours of shut-eye (I mean how many people actually let their infants sleep in the baby bucket longer than the recommended amount of time).  Most parents of newborns would kill for that one tried and tested method that will get every infant to drift off to La La land, but there isn't one- and therein lies the problem.

Every child is different, and every parent must find out what works for their particular situation. But that doesn't stop people from advocating for their own preferred method of choice. And nothing bothers me more than when someone says their method is the only way to go. In a world full of billions of people with people who sleep on their fronts, and backs, and sides, why is it so hard to accept that babies are the same way? They all like something different, and someone telling you what they did with their child (or children) is great, but it may not do a damn thing for your child, and why people can't accept that is beyond me. There are co-sleepers and bed-sharers and cry it outers and Ferberizers and the No-Cry methoders, and each wants to tell you it's their way or the highway, but what kind of parenting is that? Just because something works on your first child, who says it will work on the second, or the third, or the forth, let alone some stranger's kid half way around the world. My daughter's never slept in my bed for one night, and god forbid I suggest it to her now at the age of 2- she'd kick me out of her princess bed. And my son's only 10-weeks-old and he'd do almost anything to be held all day and night. Different kids, different needs, requiring different approaches.

You want to share your bed with your babies, fine, but don't tell me that's the only way to sleep with your child- catalogues from millions of baby stores around the world selling millions of dollars’ worth of  bassinets and cribs suggest it's not working for everyone. And what about the number of books written on this topic worldwide?  It must be in the thousands; hundreds of thousands; the millions? Are they all written about just ONE method? Hardly. It seems everyone has an opinion (note the word: 'opinion') about the best way to get a baby to sleep restfully.  And they can't all be wrong, can they?

Look if it were up to me, people wouldn't have to defend their parenting choices to the death, daily. We all parent differently for our situations. Is that so hard to realize? Every child is unique. Is that so hard to understand? If you want your child to sleep in your bed because it allows you both to sleep, more power to you. If you want your baby to sleep in a crib because it allows you both to sleep, I think that's great too. If you need to try every method that doctors and scientists and psychologists and desperate parents have come up with in the last 100 years, I'm behind you each and every step of the way. But if you try to tell me there is only one method, one approach, one best school of thought on getting a baby to sleep through the night, I'm going to punch myself in the face, repeatedly to save myself the pain of having to listen to you drone on and on and on about evolution, and how native tribes around the world did it, or how Doctor Spock said you should do it, or Ferber or Weissbluth, or Anthony Robbins. I'm glad it works for you. I'm glad you like it. Thanks for loaning me your copy of this “great” manual, but I'm not joining your cult---ure of believing that there is only one way of doing something. I liked lots of variety when I was trying to bring a child in to the world, why shouldn't I celebrate a variety of choice now that I'm raising a few.


I'm not judging you for having your kid sleep in your bed till he's six, seven, eight or nine. I'm not judging you for letting your kid sleep in the baby bucket, or the baby swing, or a product that was recalled because 600 people worldwide didn't realize if you don't clean your child's bedding it can grow mold. I'm judging you for judging other people who just want their kids to sleep in a way that makes sense for their situation. I'm judging you for being self-righteous and pulling out ridiculous arguments to make your point. I'm judging you for defending your position like an angry mob during the Spanish Inquisition.  I'm judging you because you make ME tired, but not in a put me to sleep kind of way.


For parents, SIDS is scary, the prospect of never sleeping again is scary, a crying baby that never stops is SCARY. But what is scariest of all is that we cannot support other parents in their sound parenting decisions simply because they are not our own. That’s frightening.

My friends, when it comes to a newborn (and I have one currently), I have one "opinion" and one opinion only: "whatever gets you through the night, 'salright, 'salright" (John Lennon, Apple Records, 1974). If you don’t like it, well, let’s just agree to disagree.


Related Links:

Babies and Sleep: Which Sleep Training Method is Right for Your Baby? (Squidoo)

Baby Sleep Training - Seven Tips for Success (

Co-Sleeping with Your Baby (KidsHealth.Org)


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Reader Comments (3)

This is so true. My wife and I didn't even agree. We discussed our opinions on what we thought would work and even tried a few varying methods. In the end we didn't make the decision, the children did.

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheron Bostic

Much applaud your willingness to agree to disagree Adam. Human beings are learning exponentially more daily about our physical constitution - knowledge of the brain alone has doubled in the last twenty years. This ought to inspire humility for everyone calling themself an expert. Diversity is a blessing and parents are gardeners not computer programmers. Love is Miracle Grow.

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMama Marlaine

A-FREAKIN-MEN. Really, what else is there to say?

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