34 Comments

  1. I find that advice to be very upsetting. I remember when Julia was a baby and was having trouble sleeping. I was soooooo torn at breaking the “rules” and letting her sleep with me.

    But now I see that co-sleeping was the best parenting decision I ever made.

    I’m so glad I trusted my mother’s instinct and not the advice of “experts” such as these.

    My 4 year old and my 2 year old still co-sleep with us and we all love it. It is such a peaceful way to end the day.

    We all start and end the day together.



  2. I agree with Hannah from Israel, if we ignore our babies communication they won’t feel heard or as important. We didn’t really understand attachment parenting or co-sleeping until we heard about it on Twitter! Now it makes sense for us most of the time, but every child is different and every parent is too! Thanks for this great blog!


  3. I think this was a great article! I appreciate that you emphasized that each parent needs to do what is right for their child. For us, for this child, co-sleeping wasn’t a great fit. I really appreciate Dr. Sears’s approach to AP, which is to take the aspects that work for your family. Baby M used a co-sleeper bassinet next to me for the first 3-4 months, so he was right there for me to nurse as he needed. After that he wasn’t getting up to nurse but wasn’t sleeping well. We transitioned him to a crib in the next room and he sleeps pretty soundly. We didn’t do CIO; he just slept. When he does wake up, we tend to him with whatever he needs: patting on the back, rocking, a song sung, etc. Perhaps a child of ours down the road will prefer co-sleeping.

    I agree; I think TIME shouldn’t have come out with a blanket statement. 1) Every baby is different and 2) Experts clearly disagree on the issue. They ought to have instead done an article on ways to parent your child to sleep (love that phrase!) and provided equal space to co-sleeping.

    It will be interesting to see how TIME responds. I hope you’ll post a follow-up!!!

  4. I respect each family’s decision to do what is right for their family. But my informal observation is that among friends who co-sleep, both parents and baby tend to have an extended period of sleep problems. I’m not convinced this is in the child’s interest. I also think that sometimes parents (especially mothers) have needs for closeness and fulfillment and they may put those above the best interests of the child.

    Blanket statements will never work for everyone, but I don’t think this is a blanket statement. It is merely citing the results of research collected from 30,000 families. If there is similar large-scale research available with different results, that can be discussed as well. But telling them not to publish the results sounds kind of like censorship.

  5. I’ve had babies who’ve co-slept and babies who haven’t, and I don’t think either really factors into what type of sleeper they become.

    But what I find most interesting is it’s usually the mothers who are most obsessed with getting their babies to sleep through the night who end up the most miserable. I’m speaking from my own experience here! When my first was an infant, I wasted so much time trying to figure out how to get her to sleep better, what I was doing wrong, etc., and I really was miserable.

    With my 2nd, 3rd and 4th, I’ve gotten more and more laid back about it, and now it’s not really something I think about except when I wake up engorged because the baby’s slept for extra long!

    It’s just become such an obsession in our culture, and I think so many moms walk around feeling like it’s the sign of whether you’re a good parent or not, and that’s just so not true!

  6. Thanks for linking to me, great article! As always, I’m surprised at what a polarizing issue co-sleeping and sleep training are. Also, I agree with a previous poster that how well a child sleeps is often used as a indicator of how good of a parent a person is, and it’s ludicrous. Some people are just better sleepers. My older child has always required more effort to get him to sleep, while my younger child sleeps easily and often.

  7. I’m so glad you wrote about this. I blogged about sleep training a few months ago with links to Dr. Sears. I think it’s incredibly important to maintain connections with your little ones instead of trying to push them away at night! I hate it when people assume I’m a crazy parent for cosleeping. :(

  8. Thank you for this article! I am linking back to it on my blog and RTing it. Very informative! I am an AP mom and my 2 yr old still co sleeps with DH and me and 8month old DS. Everyone sleeps very well! I just don’t get that…..I don’t like it at all.

  9. It was hard for me to go against the grain ( in my world most moms were not co-sleeping) yet I went with my natural instinct & we decided co-sleeping & nursing to sleep was best for our children and family. My girls at around age 2 1/2 stopped nursing to sleep & neither had the toddler night terrors. They both sleep 12 hours any time that I put them to sleep. I am so glad I didn’t listen to advice at the time that told me to go against what we new was best.
    My 6 1/2 yr old still needs me to rub her back & sit with her but I would not change it for the world. As she is growing, I see that the time I will be “with” her, nurturing her at bed time will be short…I hope we snuggle at bed time for years to come!

  10. To the person who said co sleeping causes prolonged sleep problems, I have co slept 6 infants, currently co sleeping the 6th, and not a single one of my children have sleep issues at all. When they were ready to move into a big girl and boy bed they did fine.

    People amaze me these days. Do what you want but don’t make up stories to justify your actions.

  11. I tried to follow the books and tough love approach with our first child…I wish everyday I would have listened to my natural mom gut instinct that God provided! Our second son was born in a close to natural fashion, breastfed for one year, cloth diapered when I could, and we slept together quite often….he is the most gentle, loving, completely secure and happy chid! The other child…not so much (bless his little heart)!He needs me constantly and does not sleep well at all! The one that we took the almost granola parenting approach…sleeps like a baby! Let us help support your natural mommy feelings (with style) at http://www.moderngranolamom.com Almost Crunchy…Always Sweet!

  12. I hadn’t heard about this article; thank you for this. I’ll have to read it and think carefully about how I want to respond. I have so many thoughts about sleep issues. With no offense to mothers of children who use pacifiers, I find it very bizarre that so many doctors think it is normal for a child to suck on silicone all night, but a problem if they need to be comforted or reassured by their mothers. I think a lot of it has to do with a lack of support and understanding about breastfeeding too. I never let my son cry it out, and never will, but when discussing with a pediatrician one time that I didn’t think the method would work anyway, since he just kept standing up in his crib if I tried to put him to sleep there, I was actually advised to let him cry until he fell asleep and fell over. Nice.

  13. @worldmama “But my informal observation is that among friends who co-sleep, both parents and baby tend to have an extended period of sleep problems.” I wonder if your observation is skewed because in addition to mothers who just wanted to cosleep, you are also including mothers who fell into cosleeping BECAUSE the baby was having sleep problems. The latter was my case (my son had medical issues and I felt cosleeping was the safest option for him), although now I am happy to have coslept, not for my own need for closeness, but because I think it helped us to firmly establish breastfeeding, and for me to get some rest, which I needed to be a good mother to him.

  14. It’s true- there is no one way that works perfectly for everyone. I do admit it makes me want to cry when I hear parents brag about making their children cry it out. We sleep trained our 1st two and co-sleep with the other two. I regret the sleep training so much & wish I knew better at the time.

    I feel like I get much better sleep co-sleeping and it also has strengthened the breastfeeding relationship, especially long term. Also? There’s nothing like the closeness and security having baby/child near.

    Going with the flow and taking a gentle approach no matter what you decide is right for your family is best, in my opinion.

    Steph

  15. I will always be a believer in a mother’s instincts and instinct guides a mother to stay close to her infant and respond promptly to its needs.

  16. Since I’ve been out of it for over a week I just now checked out the Time article & API statements and feel the need to write a blog post about my family’s co-sleeping journey and how it literally saved our family and helped my son become a confident, happy person who transitioned to his own room/bed on his terms when he was ready for it. I’m sorry to see that Time would publish such outdated research on babies’ sleep.

  17. I think several misunderstandings and assumptions are being played out here without really trying to understand or respect the “other side.” The black and white belief that “tough love” or not “co-sleeping” means simply letting babies “cry it to sleep,” is false.

    In my mixed group of friends I think I know one person who has actually literally used the “cry to sleep method,” something I would personally never advocate. At the same time our son has slept on his own from the beginning only spending time in bed to nurse. I know folks who have done as we have, while several others are (or were) co-sleepers. For some reason our son seemed to learn how to self sooth fairly early on. We definitely addressed his needs and had plenty of hard nights when he was teething or having a night terror in which we had to help him settle back down.

    I think the problem starts on either end when the child is not able to learn to self sooth, because someone always does it for him or her. This can be done by always rocking a child to sleep or always helping a child to sleep in another manner.

    And the kids and parents that I know today who have sleep issues are ones who have never learned to self sooth. At the same time, it is difficult to establish what came first, was it that these children were difficult sleepers and no matter the circumstances would they have had sleep issues? Or, were the parents interfering with their child’s natural ability to learn how to self sooth?

    Ultimately, we do need to do what works best for us as individual families, but I definitely think that there are parents among co-sleepers and or rockers and or 4 am feeders (of babies older than a year) that are doing their kids a disservice. And, I would bet that these are some of the folks referenced to in this study.

    This does not mean that all co-sleepers are negatively impacting their kids, it simply means that parents do the best they can and sometimes their best doesn’t quite work right. The same I am sure could be said of “tough love parents” or just your average “non-co-sleeping family.” I also think it is important to keep in mind that a study on childrens’ sleep should possibly be taken with a grain of salt, as so many factors can contribute to the results outside of simple “sleeping practices.” Diet, naps, atmosphere and so much more go into healthy night time sleep that I think ultimately what this study might really be guilty of is simply “oversimplification” of a complicated issue.

  18. I am not going to hop on the anti-Time bandwagon here. Jodi Mindell has been very generous with her time in speaking with breastfeeding groups in the Philadelphia area, and her advice has been sound and supportive of encouraging breastfeeding. However, sleep deprivation is a serious issue, and I think that the more things out there for parents to consider as they discover which sleep style fits each of their children is a huge help.
    My first was a dedicated cosleeper, which I had not intended at all, but I loved it, he did too, and I don’t regret a second of our snuggly time in that. But. Despite? Because? of that, he is a lousy sleeper today and still frequently ends up in our bed and has trouble falling asleep without us staying in the room.
    I was looking forward to cosleeping with my second, but he had no interest at all and would fuss. However, if he were in his cosleeper, he slept much better. His transition to the crib was easier (I stayed in his room in a different bed for a week or ten days; since then, not at all unless he’s sick, and he never ever comes to our bed for sleeping).
    But I am not sorry I didn’t follow that sleep pattern with my first. I don’t think he would have adjusted to that at all. It’s just not in him.
    And of the two? The second is clearly the better attached.
    Time erred, imo, in making this a blanket statement. All suggestions of Things That Worked for Others are helpful to new parents. As ever, the key is “listening” to your baby.
    Thanks for this comprehensive overview–really helpful and interesting.

  19. What well written column, Amy, but then you always do write well. And such an important topic. Thank you for bringing it out for discussion in such an open and well-rounded way.

    By the way, I’ve been gone for a while-nothing serious, just caught up in parenting two active boys! But I’m glad to be back. I missed reading your posts.

    Hugs,
    Liesl

  20. As the mom of 3 boys, none of whom slept through the night before 14 months, sleep “solutions” are always fascinating to me.

    I chose to nurse, rock, nurture, and soothe my babies as they woke up hour after hour for the first year plus. All three followed the exact same pattern. I was exhausted, depressed, confused. But “tough sleep” was not something I felt comfortable with. So I stuck it out.

    My children now happily, willingly, eagerly go to bed at 7:30. The baby doesn’t even want to be rocked; he simply reaches for his crib when he is tired. They sleep through the night, don’t climb into our bed until morning, and know to listen to their bodies when they are tired.

    It was certainly a brutal first year with all of them. At the time I would have given my left breast for 4 hours straight of sleep. But the payoff, hopefully, are children who truly have healthy sleep habits – on their own terms.

  21. Thank you for all of those great links. I blogged on this topic on my site & on API Speaks (the API blog). It saddens me that parents might read Time’s advice and be scared into moving their babies out of their beds, or worse, their rooms.

  22. Amy Gates for President 2012

  23. Hi! We loved your post over at KiwiLog and decided to feature it as part of our weekly parenting blog round-up. Thanks!

  24. “Time” should have at least presented more than one opinion on the subject. Why is it so hard for journalists to present a “tough love” approach and a co-sleeping approach? As many commenters have noted, one size does not fit all.

    And this, “But my informal observation is that among friends who co-sleep, both parents and baby tend to have an extended period of sleep problems.” Anecdotes do not equal hard data.

    Are the parents you know choosing to co-sleep having informed themselves of the benefits or are they co-sleeping out of exauhstion because “tough love” wasn’t working? If the parents are complaining about their sleep arrangements, then my guess would be the latter. And in that case what’s to say it wasn’t the CIO or “tough love” that caused the sleep problems and not the co-sleeping that followed?

  25. We don’t co-sleep very long with our children, but I personally enjoyed the months we had together.

    I will admit, though, that my kids do sleep better/longer when they aren’t next to me (as babies). But when they are toddlers and young kiddos and they end up in my bed they sleep fine. It’s Mama with the knee in her back that doesn’t. HA!

    I don’t let my kids cry it out, though. Co-sleeping or not, I think that’s CRUEL and hurtful and makes me want to cry thinking about it. A baby for heavens sake! A baby! They aren’t being spoiled because you pick them up when they cry.

    UGH!

  26. @WorldMomma While that may be your informal observation, I’m sure you are aware of the difficulties of anecdotal evidence like that. For example, perhaps they co-sleep in *response* to sleep problems? At any rate, I have had sleep problems all my life and my parents did not co-sleep with me. So, there is always a counterbalancing anecdote.

    And I find your statement about the mother’s need for closeness to perpetuate certain unhelpful stereotypes. I am overjoyed at any sign my children show of independence–I’m just not pushing independence on infants.

    As to your second point, no one is suggesting that anyone not publish a scientific study. This is not a medical journal. This is a popular magazine that chose to pick one sleep study over the others available, without indication as to the methodology or providing a counterbalancing viewpoint. Asking for some objectivity in discussing infant sleep is hardly censorship.


  27. Amy – Thank you for including my comments as part of your post. I feel very passionate about parents finding the right sleep solution for their family without being pressured to cry it out or do other techniques that don’t feel right.

    Thank goodness for Dr. Sears!

  28. And the kids and parents that I know today who have sleep issues are ones who have never learned to self sooth. At the same time, it is difficult to establish what came first, was it that these children were difficult sleepers and no matter the circumstances would they have had sleep issues? Or, were the parents interfering with their child’s natural ability to learn how to self sooth?

    Ultimately, we do need to do what works best for us as individual families, but I definitely think that there are parents among co-sleepers and or rockers and or 4 am feeders (of babies older than a year) that are doing their kids a disservice. And, I would bet that these are some of the folks referenced to in this study.
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    This does not mean that all co-sleepers are negatively impacting their kids, it simply means that parents do the best they can and sometimes their best doesn’t quite work right. The same I am sure could be said of “tough love parents” or just your average “non-co-sleeping family.” I also think it is important to keep in mind that a study on childrens’ sleep should possibly be taken with a grain of salt, locksmith san jose as so many factors can contribute to the results outside of simple “sleeping practices.” Diet, naps, atmosphere and so much more go into healthy night time sleep that I think ultimately what this study

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