When I was expecting my first baby, I received a lot of parenting advice from well-meaning friends. Many of these advice would revolve around the sleeping habits of the baby. I thought, how difficult can it be to get the baby to sleep? Shouldn’t the baby just sleep when he’s tired? After all, we often say to people after a good night’s sleep that we slept like a baby! Whoever coined that term obviously did not have a baby like mine!
My husband and I had spent time painstakingly decorating the baby’s room and we were totally convinced that the baby would sleep in his cot, in his own room, from day one. However, our baby had other ideas in mind. He decided that he would not sleep unless he was held in our arms and only if certain mysterious conditions (which took us months to figure out) were met. Did I mention that he was also born with an amazing lung capacity? He would cry for hours if those mysterious conditions were not met and sleep training was no walk in the park for us at all. We even had concerned neighbours knocking on our door after enduring the baby’s loud crying for hours.
It became apparent to us very quickly that for us to get any sleep, one of us would have to either sleep with the baby in his room, or to move him into our room. We eventually decided that we will move the baby into our room, so that it was easier for us to cope with the frequent waking (he would wake up screaming to be fed every 1.5 hours for the first three months!).
The key is in creating a balance between the needs of the baby and the needs of your relationship with your spouse.
After months of stressing over our lack of success in sleep-training and trying to figure out how to get our son to sleep peacefully, my mum offered these words of wisdom to us, “Eventually, everybody sleeps! Quit stressing and just go with the flow.” That made me wonder why some of us get so hung-up about sleep-training and whether co-sleeping is acceptable or not. After all, there have been many generations of families who have slept in the same room while growing up.
The key is in creating a balance between the needs of the baby and the needs of your relationship with your spouse. If co-sleeping is essential during the early days, agree together on when you will transit the baby to his own room and work towards it together. It might be a difficult transition at first, but your child will get used to it.
The baby should be “part” of the family, not the “centre” of the family. Certainly, it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to care for a young baby. However, we have to make decisions on caring for our children that don't take a toll on our marriage. The greatest gift we can give our children is a strong marriage.
The greatest gift we can give our children is a strong marriage.
A great marriage doesn’t happen by accident—it requires time together. Even saying your goodnights well can keep a marriage strong. Some of the best time that a married couple has is right before they go to bed together. They are able to have physical intimacy, conversation, affection, etc. If having your child sleep in the same room is a permanent arrangement, you would need to be intentional in creating other opportunities to connect with each other.
My firstborn turns four this year and we have since welcomed a second child to our family who is so much better at sleeping in his cot. And for that, we are thankful even though we are still persuading our firstborn to sleep in his own room and to sleep through!
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