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Who Cares Where, As Long As She Sleeps!

I’ve got the results of last week’s poll – “When did you move your baby to
a crib from either a bassinet or co-sleeping?” And the voters say –

no right answer!

Fully a third of the voters moved to a crib right
a three months, while a few kept baby in bassinet or bedside co-sleeper
until baby outgrew it. The rest of the votes were evenly split between
starting baby right away in the crib, allowing the child when to decide to
move to a crib (which is often drawn out and traumatic for the whole
family, according to those who have done it), or co-sleeping for at least
a year.

My girlfriend Abby repeatedly says that the first year of
your baby’s life is all about sleep. You spend all your night hours
wishing you were, and all your daylight hours obsessing over the right way
to handle your child’s sleep habits.

We started Maddie out in a bassinet by our bed. We slept with a low lamp
on in the room, lest we fall under the illusion we were doing anything
more than catnapping. We also suffered from New Parent Anxiousness and
were happy to be able to sit up in bed and see that Pumpkin was indeed a)
still asleep and b) still alive.

Madeleine was (and still is) small
for her age so we could have pushed it with the bassinet for a while, but
I wanted her in her crib by four months of age. All the books I read
listed four months as the age around which babies begin to become more
aware of their surroundings, and I wanted Maddie safely ensconced in her
own new crib before she started looking around and mentally unpacking.

see, I’d heard all the sleep stories from my girlfriends. I’d read all the
books warning you that it’s better to start off right than to have to
break bad habits later on. I dreaded the idea of sleep training that tiny
baby and hoped that by getting things established early on, I’d never have
to listen to her cry.

Yeah, I know, it’s funny to me too. Now.

some reason I still had this idea that parenting an infant was a bit of a
checklist: get something done once, and you could cross it off the list.
Teach a child to sleep – check! What’s next? Potty training? That should
only take a day or two.

At any rate, I was caught up in trying to
do it right the first time so I wouldn’t have to do it again, but more
slowly and painfully. So I wanted to start her out right away sleeping on
her own, moving her to the crib sooner rather than later. Brian’s always
been more open to co-sleeping than I am; when we first napped together as
a family, I lay there frozen stiff as a board, petrified to breath too
much lest I use up all the oxygen and leave her with only carbon dioxide
to breathe. Brian gracefully acquiesced to me and we never tried nighttime

For the transition to the crib, I had to think a few
moves ahead. Maddie started life sleeping swaddled and on her side to help
with her reflux, with bumpers on either side to keep her from rolling on
to her stomach. Step one: start sleeping with the light off, so she could
get used to sleeping in the dark. Step two: put her to sleep on her back
instead of her side, but still in between the bumpers. Step three: put her
to sleep unswaddled. Step four: drumroll – move her to the crib!

began the four-step plan at three months when we noticed her sleep
starting to even out and she began sleeping through the night (sorry!),
giving us about a week for her (and us) to get used to each step. When we
began sleeping with the light out, I was so disoriented – it felt so
decadent! I quickly became used to it and couldn’t believe we’d slept with
the light on for so long. Maddie showed no signs of caring whatsoever at
each change, and her transition to the crib was smooth and easy (sorry

Our transition to her sleeping in the crib, however, was
not so easy. I’d become so used to hearing her little noises right next to
us, being able to check on her instantly, that the room felt lonely
without her. We’d lie in bed at night and talk about how much we missed
our daughter, two feet and one dividing wall away. The space by the side
of the bed loomed large without the bassinet to fill it.

And you
know what’s funny? The older she’s gotten, the more I’ve wanted to
co-sleep with her. As she grew more affectionate and recognized us, I had
the regular urge to snuggle up with her in a big cozy bed. We nap together
maybe once a week and I love it. She’s never come to bed with us at night;
I’m too afraid of having to break that habit and know we’d have to for the
sake of our marriage. But if she wakes up in the morning before I want to
we’ll bring her into bed with us for an extra hour or so of sleep. And we
both love those times.

Don’t get me wrong – I know she enjoys the
co-sleeping but I freely admit we do it for purely selfish reasons. We
have close friends who always co-sleep and it works really well for them.
We knew it wouldn’t for us, but it doesn’t stop us from enjoying it when
it comes along. And I wouldn’t hesitate to bring her to bed with us if she
were ill or traumatized or something. As much as we try to stick to
consistent parenting, sometimes the books go out the window and your
instinct dictates instead.

Which is why I think the votes were all
over the place in this poll. Every kid’s different, and we all have to
figure out what works best for us! The best solution is the one where the
kid goes to sleep.

For a long, long time.

Every night.

hear that’s really nice.


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