Over the last few decades, most of the experts have said that letting your baby sleep in bed with you is a bad thing to do. Yet, every new mom knows, especially if she breastfeeds her baby, that he is not going to fall asleep, nor will he stay asleep, unless the source of his nourishment is firmly fixed where it belongs – in his mouth.
With the Baby Mother may walk him to sleep, which works until she is so weary she cannot stand up. She may rock him to sleep, sometimes accompanied with her singing. This works until he gets restless and wants to get down on the floor to play. That is what my daughter liked to do at two o’clock in the morning, after waking me from the only sleep I had been able to get all day. Then of course, the mother can nurse her infant until he just dozes off, and gently, oh so gently, ease her nipple out of his mouth, lay the dear baby down in his own little bed, put the blanket over him just so, turn out the light, tiptoe out the door, and listen to him howl in rage.
He is not where he thought he was. The world has insulted him. The world is unfair, and he will make certain everyone in it knows this.
“Let him cry it out,” my friends and in-laws advised. I was generally good for not much more than ten minutes of that. From the time my children were two months old, they could belt out their protests for hours. It was a matter of who had the stronger character, and generally I lost such tugs-of-war.
Yes, a screaming baby may well make the ugliest sound in the world. Our first instinct is to do anything in our power to calm the infant down. We need to remember that what has been called the ‘family bed,’ is not necessarily wrong, just foreign. People in other parts of the world routinely have their children in bed with them. The very notion that anyone should sleep alone would appear to be a form of torture to them. Their children grow up healthy and feeling loved and accepted in ways most of our children may not.
Most of us want to maintain those private times with our husbands, keeping them absolutely private. Yet still, the infant wails in the night, and will not be comforted except with the warmth and nourishment only his mother can give him. The plush bear in his crib can only offer so much comfort. Should we be made to feel guilty for permitting ourselves to fall asleep with our infant nestled beside us? Some of my most precious memories of my children are of those times when, weary from the day, I curled around my soft warm baby, and let him nurse until we had both drifted off to sleep.
This is not to say that my babies did not have their own beds and their own rooms. It does mean that no one rule is right for all parents and all children at all times. We have to use those wonderful minds God gave us and make the best decisions for ourselves and our children that we can.