We’ve always physically assisted Avery in the sleep department. She has always required either nursing, rocking, or cuddling to sleep. We now talk to her about how she’s old enough to go to sleep on her own, but since I love the quality cuddle time and am not eager to end it, we’re leaving it up to her to decide when she’s ready. There have been a couple of times where she wanted to feel like a big kid and tried going to sleep on her own, but she would just end up whimpering so sadly, and when we would go to her she’d tell us she was afraid of ghosts and/or missed us so much.
I’ve been happy with how we’ve done bedtimes – in retrospect. When she was a baby I heard a lot of messages of the importance of sleep training and how damaging it is to be a “sleep crutch” for your baby and you shouldn’t breastfeed to sleep and they’re going to be sleeping with you when they go off to college…. All that garbage… those messages made me doubt my instincts – and of course we occasionally tried gentle sleep training approaches. But now I’m totally over meeting expectations and just want to cuddle my kid before she doesn’t want cuddles anymore. ESPECIALLY now that she’s in daycare for 9 hours a day and I’m hungry for quality time for which there just aren’t enough waking hours in a day. Sometimes we’ll cuddle in her bed and talk for an hour about her day or about her hopes and dreams or whatever ridiculous and hilarious ideas she has floating around in her head. I love it.
What really brought home this sense of we’re doing the right thing for our kid is when Avery mentioned to me – during our bedtime cuddle last night – that she remembered sleeping in a crib (which was over by the time she was 7 months old).
She said, “when I was a baby you kept leaving me alone because you didn’t fit in my bed, but I was scared and I wanted to cuddle with you.”
It’s amazing what young kids can remember about their first year of life…