“too accommodating” to my baby…? Sleep dilemma

My mom worries that Avery is too needy – that she wants to be held too much and needs too much assistance getting to sleep. I’ve used the “she’s a newborn baby, of course she needs to be held all the time!” excuse for as long as I could, but she’s going to be 4 months old in a couple of days and now I’m starting to get more judgment for the way I get her to sleep.
No-cry sleep training attempts were a bust. We tried for a month to take a morning nap in the crib and she would fuss for an hour before I’d take her out and let her sleep on me to salvage a half hour or so of the remaining nap time.

She’ll only sleep on me if I hold her against me and rock her to sleep, or next to me if I nurse her to sleep while lying down. This is the case for naps and nights. At night I transfer her to the bassinet once she has fallen asleep in our bed, but the bassinet sleep has gotten worse and worse and she ends up bed sharing more often than not. I get terrible sleep this way because there isn’t room for a spread-eagle wife, a spread-eagle baby, and me. However, I get worse sleep when I try putting her in her bassinet. Last night I held her hand in her bassinet for 2 hours to keep her asleep – everytime I let go she awoke.

I mentioned to my mom that I’m uncertain of how successful all 3 of our family Christmas dinners will be next week, because Avery gets fussy at 6:30 and the only way to appease her is to get her ready for bed and quiet down the house for the night. This is dinner time. This is why I usually eat dinner early, and then when my wife gets home later she eats separately. We have eaten dinner together, without a fussy baby in either of our arms, a total of 3 times since Avery was born.

I deal with the evening fussiness by laying in bed with the baby from 6:30 until she falls asleep – sometimes an hour, sometimes 3 hours. I put her to sleep in our bed because it’s the least exhausting for me and because I let her comfort nurse to sleep. If I get up to shower or something and Avery wakes up to my absence, she screams. If she wakes up and sees me there with her, she falls right back to sleep. I am kind of trapped.

Not really an ideal situation for holiday dinners. And this is why my mom said that maybe I am too accommodating to my baby.

I see my only other option as cry-it-out sleep training, which I really, really don’t want to use. But I’m torn as to whether this is inappropriate behaviour for an almost 4 month old at all, or if the problem lies with the social expectations of our fast-paced, independent culture where going to bed at 7 just because your baby goes to bed at 7 is unreasonable. I don’t have a problem with it – I like to unwind in the evening in bed, cuddling my baby.

Who is being unreasonable here? Avery and I, or our family?

18 thoughts on ““too accommodating” to my baby…? Sleep dilemma”

  1. If you don’t have a problem with it, try not to worry too much about what other people think. No matter what you do, you’ll have family/friends whose opinions about childrearing differ from your own. But ultimately, how you parent matters so much more to you, your wife, and your baby, so go with your gut and do what feels right to you.

    We basically never went out in the evening for the first six months of J’s life. The few family dinners we managed involved her sleeping in a carrier while we ate, or taking turns eating. I know people thought we were being silly about it, but at the risk of sounding totally cliche? Time goes so quickly. I’m so glad we held her as much as possible and don’t regret it for a minute. And she’s a well-adjusted, independent toddler who now goes to sleep on her own, so I don’t think we did anything wrong despite admonishments that we were ‘spoiling’ her.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, I needed to hear this. Regardless of what we choose to *try* to do about her sleep patterns, it is always good to hear a reminder to trust your instincts and that kids can turn out independent and capable even when you cuddle them all the time as babies!

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      1. Studies show that hey are THAT independent BECAUSE You cuddles them so good! They feel safe ALL THE TIME, and aren’t scared or intimidated by challenges or new situations! It’s the best thing you can do friend!

        Liked by 4 people

  2. This reminds me of a story I read. “A man and his wife and their mule go on a journey. He rides the horse and the villagers say, ‘how could he make his poor wife walk all this way like that!’ So he gets off the mule, and lets his wife ride. In the next village they pass, they hear ‘how can she let her husband walk like that as hard as he works!’ So the woman tells the husband to climb up as well. In the next village, ‘That poor mule! Both of them on there!’ And we both get up and walk over to the next village where people snicker saying, “How ridiculous! And the mule carries nothing!!!” All of that to say, people are going to talk and say things, but opinions are like assholes, even if it’s my mother! They raised their babies their way, we raise them our way. Ultimately, we live in OUR truth…what’s good for you and your baby, Is good for you and your baby! It’s tough with parents because we’re fine, right?! But it’s also about boundaries that sometimes as parents of kids that are parents, they forget. And WE’LL forget when we become grandparents! You’ll know exactly what to do. Trust your instincts. Baby needs you in bed, then you know what you gotta do!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If it’s working for you and your wife and baby, that’s the only thing that matters. I nursed and rocked Ansel to sleep every night for 14 months, nursed and rocked on every wake up too, and he now falls asleep easily on his own at 21 months. We changed the routine when it stopped working for us.
    I think it’s reasonable to ask family to shift things like the time of dinner. You could also try a baby carrier, if it’ll work – that’s how we managed sleep time and social time early on.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks! We should definitely crack out a carrier again and try it during dinner… As she got heavier we kind of set the carriers aside, but when it’s that or holding her with our free arm at the table, the carrier would be way easier. And she does seem to sleep well in noisey places as long as it’s ambient, so maybe she will sleep through dinners…

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  4. Don’t let anyone guilt/force you into doing something you’re not ready for yet. 4 months is really young. She’s still just a tiny baby. When we did sleep training, the book said that they would offer some tips for babies younger than 6 mos, but they didn’t recommend sleep training until 6 mos +. We basically slept on the couch with Charlotte on our chest for the first 6 months because that’s the only way anyone got any rest. Not ideal, obviously, but it was how we survived.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks 😊 some people – people who haven’t been parents to an infant for a long time – seem to think that 4 months is old… I’ve read a couple of sleep books that say you should start working on sleep associations and eliminating sleep crutches as early as possible, but that just not reasonable when you have to choose between getting your baby to get good sleep and trying to train your baby TO sleep. I believe it’s better for everyone to just help your baby get the good sleep they need at this stage, no matter what it takes. It’s easy to believe that in principle, though, and still feel pressure to do the opposite!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Our doctor told us sleep training is basically useless before 6-7 months. We only now just did cry-it-out method to cut out the 3am wake up once we were certain the wake up was routine and not due to hunger. There is absolutly no way I could have done it at 4 months.
    Also, who cares what other people say?! To this day we have a great sleeper and so we protect his night time routine as if it is some sort of sacred and holy event. We are home every single night by 6:30 so bed happens at 7. For Christmas dinner with my family which is a 3+ hour drive, we are leaving at 7pm so baby MPB will sleep in the car on the way home and we won’t throw off his timing. I firmly believe you need to do what’s best for you, your wife and your baby.

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  6. At this point, 27 months in, I’ll let Darwin cry until she wears herself out for nap as long as she is not panic crying. I didn’t do it at all until she was around 2 and have only done it a couple of times of of shear desperation and a need for her to nap so the night wasn’t a mess. Couldn’t have done anything like cry it out at 4 months. Wouldn’t have. It’s hard to hear when your parents have decided you’re doing something wrong but I’d stick with what you’re comfortable with. Good luck <4

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the reassurance. I wouldn’t want to do cry-it-out while she is so young because she’s not being manipulative yet – she cried because she needs (or thinks she needs), not because she wants. And I really can’t be certain that her cries are serious or non-seriois right now. And with her eczema and gas I really feel like she NEEDS the comfort of snuggles to fall asleep.

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  7. I needed this post and all these comments. Baby’s not even 3 months yet and already we’re getting pressure to let her CIO because she’s having a tough time with naps. Now I’m going to trust my instinct and continue saying “fuck off.”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. We do the exact same things. Baby sleeping in bed with me is WAY easier than me getting up in the night. She has started expressing her STRONG preference for me to be the one helping her get back to sleep. We also do bedtime around 6:30 when she’s exhausted and I dread those events that require us to be up or out of the house past 7:00. Frankly, I just don’t really care what everyone else (including my mom) thinks. I know baby likes the closeness, and I think it’s a normal biological urge for her to want to know I’m nearby. It’s tiring, and we’ll have to break the habit later in life as she is older and more confident, but for the time being, I want her to feel very secure that I’m there for her when she needs me. I’d vote for you to keep doing what you’re doing and trust your instinct.

    Liked by 1 person

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