Last week, I discussed the contemporary concept represented by the term “self-soothing” and expounded upon why I have chosen not to make this word a part of my regular vocabulary (although there I went and said it…) In many ways, I feel that “sleep-training” can be kicked out of my vocabulary as well. Sleeping isn’t something you need to learn how to do…it is a physical necessity and a natural part of being human. It isn’t as bad as “self-soothing”…the word sleep-training makes a bit of sense.  While I think this has more to do with circadian rhythms and personality (being a night person or morning person), we can and do train ourselves to go to bed and get up at certain times to fit our life routines. Enforcing a certain bedtime or nap routine is a sort of “sleep-training” that I really don’t have a problem with at all. Although our lives–Bible studies, social events, changing work schedules, and classes–have never been very conducive to a strict schedule, so Josiah’s “training” has allowed him to be more flexible without getting quite as cranky as other kids might (although he has certainly had his “moments”!!!). If that is what is meant by the term sleep-training…then it really is not in conflict with our sleeping in the same bed, for a child’s sleep schedule is not too dependent on where it is they sleep.

However, in my experience, the term “sleep-training” is a term that is used most often by the same camp who use the term “self-soothe.” Intrinsic in the idea that you are training your child to sleep is the idea that you are training them to sleep on their own (aka. self-soothe). On the philosophy behind that, I have said enough. What is still left to be addressed is whether my child will ever “learn” to sleep on his own….

Of course he will! I can’t imagine that my teenage Josiah will still want to sleep in a bed with his mother. It is almost laughable. Now, how the transition to his own bed will happen, I am really not sure. On this aspect of co-sleeping I really have no expertise: for my oldest child is two, and he still sleeps in my bed.

I do have some thoughts, though…so I’ll go ahead and share them.

  • I don’t intend to force Josiah out of my bed before he is ready. What this “readiness” will look like…I am not so sure. However, I believe there are several things which will encourage him to move out on his own.
  • I have heard that some children take an interest in their own bed when they are “crowded out.” At this point, I have no idea how the introduction of our new baby into our lives will affect our sleeping arrangement. And then the baby after that… Josiah may come to prefer his own bed with more of his own space to sleep. Flexibility and plenty of viable options…that’s my plan at this point.  We have already begun down that path with the decision to set up twin beds in what will serve as our guest room slash kids room with the idea that he can claim one of the beds as his own whenever he determines it is time to do so.
  • I have also heard that siblings often make the transition together…moving to another shared sleep space…but without mom and dad. That could happen…again, we’ll have the beds ready.
  • My love of decorating, and the fun we have together creating special rooms and personal spaces as a family may also have a part in the eventual transition…when sleeping on his own means sleeping in his a car, baseball, airplane, cowboy, Finding Nemo, or Buzz Lightyear themed room. When it sounds like “the coolest thing ever,” I don’t think the transition will be made with tears.
  • Friends/social pressure and the invitation to slumber parties will also be inevitable factors down the road.
  • If it comes to it, we may involve other rewards or verbal encouragement when we feel that Josiah should be making the transition but is dragging his feet. Maybe we’ll have an arrangement like the Friday night “slumber parties” in mom and dad’s room like my parents have with my two youngest brothers (7 and 9).

Who knows…but I guess at this point I don’t feel that I have to know. This is what is working now. There will surely be bridges to cross and we’ll do so when we get there.

For a long time we avoided sharing our sleeping arrangement with Josiah’s doctor, knowing from the generic information we received at earlier appointments that she would disapprove. It finally came up at Josiah’s 2-year-old appointment with an unavoidable question about transitioning to a toddler bed from the crib. This late in the game, any argument she may have made about safety or SIDS would have been mute (such matters no longer really applied to our toddler). Rather, her concern and advice was that the earlier we made the transition to his own bed, the better…” it will only get more and more difficult with time.”

I heard her. I did. But she was referring to going against a child’s will and forcing them to sleep somewhere new and scary. I don’t expect that this transition will be scary when Josiah is ready…it will be new and exciting. Yes, I may be too optimistic about this…and I promise to let you know if I come to regret it down the road.

Right now, I am enjoying and appreciating the fact that the “training” my son is receiving is more about building strong attachments and learning the value of togetherness over and above independence.

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If you are new to my “How I Got My Baby to Sleep Through the Night” Series, I welcome you to check out these other posts:

Politics and Party Lines: How Do You Sleep At Night?

Our Sleep Story

Safety and Suffocation: Steps to Take to Make Sleeping with Your Baby Safe

Safety and Suffocation: Why I Believe Breastfeeding Makes Sleeping with Your Baby Safe

Sleeping with Our Baby and the Risk of SIDS

Self-Soothing: How Silly!

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