"If you keep holding him while he sleeps..." - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-01-2008, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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"...then he'll never learn to sleep without you."

Ok, so I just had my first experience of a friend kinda trying to advise me about parenting in a different way. She was over our house, meeting 3 month old DS for the first time. She has two daughters (3 yrs and 5 yrs). DS has been a bit fussier of late and the day she was over happened to be an abnormally hard day for him. Usually he naps throughout the day (after being awake for 1.5-2 hrs he'll sleep for 20-60 minutes....and often longer in the late afternoon/early evening). I'm with him all the time, and he often ends up napping on me as I read, eat, watch TV, use the computer, etc. Just recently I've started experimenting with putting him in his co-sleeper for the longer nap...while I sat in bed next to him and read. He slept this way for 1 hour the first time I tried it and two hours the next time. We don't have a monitor yet, so I'm not comfortable leaving him there and doing stuff around the house. While theoretically I'd like to be be "getting more done", I'm also very comfortable with our current arrangement - especially cuz he's ONLY 3 MONTHS!

Anyway, my friend was asking me about his napping and sleeping habits and she was just incredulous that I would want to spend 2 hours "stuck on the couch" with him. I know she is a loving and wonderful mommy to her girls, but clearly we'll have different parenting styles.

However, her words are stuck in my head and I'm feeling kinda defensive and a little worried. My understanding from reading posts here is that as he develops more abilities - grabbing things, wanting to explore objects, sitting up on own, actually enjoying being on his back or tummy for periods of time - he'll be more than happy to be set down for periods of time. I also think that while he almost always is napping ON me or DH, that that won't be a requirement of his to sleep. Am I right?

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Old 11-01-2008, 08:52 PM
 
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Well, I mean, what's the alternative? If he doesn't mind being put down, and you'd like to get stuff done, put him down; if he does mind being put down, weeeellll, now that's a can of worms!

Personally, (I know, you weren't asking, but I'll tell ya anyway) I had a baby who _would NOT_ be put down, even fully asleep, for-ev-er, I don't remember exactly how old he was the first time I put him down in any stage of sleep or wakefulness and he fell asleep/didn't wake up, but I can tell you he was walking and talking. I spent a lot of time his first two years pinned to the couch. Now, he is just learning to fall asleep without nursing (he's almost 4) and I'm OK with this. It's hasn't been easy or great for my work/social life, and I took a lot of flak from family, but we're through it now mostly and I never ever wish I'd done anything more "drastic" to get him to sleep without me. Now, if I _could_ have put him down, you know, I probably would have at least once in a while.

The point is, these things depend on the baby's personality. Listen to your baby.

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Old 11-01-2008, 08:56 PM
 
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You took the question right out of my mouth! My MIL spends a good deal of our phone and in person time questioning me about whether letting LO sleep on us is going to lead to a variety of developmental problems and/or psychological damage. I get soooo defensive because, like you said, he's 2 MONTHS OLD! I really enjoy spending that time with him while he naps and don't mind be "chained to the couch" either. LO does occasionally sleep on his own -- he just doesn't stay asleep for as long when he is alone and I feel like I'd rather him get a nice, quality nap even if it means he is on me or DH. I guess I would like to know, though -- like you said -- that he will eventually be more comfortable by himself.
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Old 11-01-2008, 08:58 PM
 
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Your friend may have been coming from a place of concern for you. My mom often throws that line of reasoning at me as well.

Whether or not your child will get used to sleeping on you and prefer it that way depends on his personality. When my first child was that age, he slept on us a lot, and slept longer on us, and would wake up quicker whenever we up him down to sleep. For a while it wasn't a problem. And when this arrangement became less convenient for us, we would gradually put him down more and more when he slept and he got more and more used to it.

I just say, take what she says with a grain of salt and keep doing whatever works for you. Clearly, you guys have an arrangement that works for you right now. If you don't mind sitting under him for 2 hours on the couch, don't worry about it. Personally, for me, i was like that with my first kid, I am a SAHM and I didn't mind sitting under him as he slept. But now with this kid, my second one, I can't do that as much as I'd like, and it's a relief to be able to put him down from time to time and for him to stay asleep for a nice period of time so I can take care of my 3yo hands free.
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Old 11-01-2008, 09:08 PM
 
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Keep doing whatever works for you. I always think it's funny when people say babies will get "used" to being held. For the first nine months of their life in the womb, they were always held!

Wife to a wonderful dh and mom to four beautiful kiddos, dd (3/04):, ds1 (1/06), ds2 (10/08), and ds3 (7/10)
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Old 11-01-2008, 09:55 PM
 
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nak

infants sleep in the arms of their parents. it couldn't be more natural and normal. ignore people who tell you to put your baby down. i wonder if there is some sort of deep-seeded resentment or jealousy in those who want babies put-down/sleeping alone/off of the breast....

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Old 11-02-2008, 12:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I do know my friend was trying to be helpful...as she put it, I need to look out for my own physical and mental well-being (she said she had needed her own mom to tell her that), and as DS keeps getting heavier, constant carrying will get tougher and tougher (and I thanked her for sharing her mommy experiences with me). I also think my friend is less content than me to be "sitting around" (she runs marathons, I read and watch TV).

We didn't get into the whole bed-sharing thing in this conversation, but I think she knows that DS is in our bed. She made a point of saying (in a follow-up email) that both her girls have slept in their own beds from day 1 and were sleeping through the night by 3 months (I had told her that DS typically has a good 4-5 hour stretch each night, and sometimes even 6-7 hours), and both have turned out happy and well-adjusted.

I guess a question is...and I think I just saw another thread today about this...how do you get your baby used to sleeping on his/her own? I mean, if it's a matter of "getting him more and more used to it", how does that work? Just try to put him down in his co-cleeper every day for a nap, pick up when he cries, then putting back down? Over and over? I know putting him down sleepy-but-awake would not work for him, but the two times he napped successfully in the co-sleeper I put him down asleep. The first time he woke up after 5 minutes and started crying. I gave him my finger to suck and he was back to sleep in about a minute and stayed that way for an hour.

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Old 11-02-2008, 12:46 AM
 
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Also, keep in mind that this friend has a 3yo and a 5yo. This mean that, the last time she had a newborn, she also had a 2yo to chase after. Likely she had a lot less time to just sit and hold the baby and NEEDED the baby to sleep in a safe spot so she could care for the toddler. Maybe she's forgotten what it's like with only one baby!

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Old 11-02-2008, 01:30 AM
 
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I'm in the same boat. My dd doesn't nap on her own and she's almost 4 months. I can lay her down sometimes, but like a PP said, if I want a quality nap, I need to be there to help her through it. I keep wondering the same things you do... like will she ever sleep on her own if I "let"her sleep on me, am I making her dependent. But what is the alternative? If she doesn't nap or gets shorts naps, it's not enough sleep.

I bought Elizabeth Pantley's Sleep Solution, but it takes a lot of energy and commitment just to make small changes at this point. I'm hoping she'll grow out of it by developing more neurologically - maybe then she won't wake up as often, and when she does she'll be able to get back to sleep.

Good luck!
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Old 11-02-2008, 07:24 AM
 
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DS napped on us or in a sling until he was about 18 months. I didn't mind a bit, and I miss that snuggly time with him! It was so sweet to have my baby sleeping on me, I don't regret the time I spent doing that at all! Now he's almost two, and he sleeps on his own just fine. He doesn't get to sleep on his own, but it takes me like, a minute or two to nurse him or rock him to sleep, and then I can just put him down, or leave the bed, or nap with him! If you want to get up and move around, I would suggest getting a mei-tai or something, then your baby can happily nap in your arms and you can get other things done. I just thought it seemed like too much work to try and get ds to sleep alone before he was ready (and it would have been, he always woke right up when I put him down, and if he didn't, I got lonely!) so I didn't bother. I plan on letting the next one nap in the sling or on me as long as I can too...I miss that sleepin' baby feel!

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Old 11-02-2008, 11:25 AM
 
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I think they'll sleep on their own when they're ready. DD had to be held or snuggled right up against me for the first 2 months. I could never put her down or get up. Then at 2 months, she started sleeping for 10 hour stretches in her crib :\

Now at four months, she's just learned to sit up, and doesn't want me to put her to sleep anymore. I feed her and then she look at me like, "ok mom, put me in my bed now" If I try to rock her to sleep, she screams and pushes away from me.

It's actually kind of sad...but she's becoming a big girl--and who am i to stop her?

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Old 11-02-2008, 11:32 AM
 
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it's such a short time they want to sleep on you. even if they want to sleep on you for 3 years, in the grand scheme of things, that's not a long time. there is nothing more precious than holding a sleeping baby. i miss those times with my son. enjoy every second of it while it lasts.
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Old 11-02-2008, 11:38 AM
 
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I hate "never" statements.
He will "never learn to sleep without you".
So, when he is 36, you will have to hold him while he sleeps? Me thinks not!
Whenever I get "never" statements, I always turn the statement around like that and it shuts the naysayer up.

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Old 11-02-2008, 12:04 PM
 
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I am so on your side here.

In regards to it getting harder to carry the baby around - if you work out every day with a gradually increasing amount of weight, you barely notice the workout getting harder, you just get in better shape. I am surprised that your friend who runs marathons doesn't understand this. (I cannot say enough good things about slings in this regard - comfy snuggles with baby + free hands!, and they really spare your back sometimes.)

From your co-sleeper experience, it seems to me that, if you wanted, you wouldn't *have* to hold your son while he slept. You could put him in a bassinette nearby and he'd nap just fine. That means you are not, in fact, chained to the couch - you are choosing to snuggle your sweet baby through nap time. That's a lovely thing, and you're going to treasure the memories of those moments your whole life. Have lots of them. They are never so small again.

He will eventually want to sleep on his own, and he will learn how. If you're happy with the current arrangement, there is no reason to change it.
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Old 11-02-2008, 12:06 PM
 
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Absolutely! They all sleep on their own eventually. My almost four likes to sleep next to me for a couple of hours early in the morning and my one year old sleeps with us, but shoves me away after a pre-bed nursing. However, my 10, 12, 15 and 16 year olds (who slept with me for varying lengths of time) all like their own beds thank you very much! In fact, I have a friend who didn't co-sleep and didn't "allow" her baby to sleep with her at all (very CIO) and her 12 yo still won't sleep away from home and sleeps with her quite often - I think, and this is just a thought - that babes who are secure in the fact that their parents are always there for them and don't feel abandoned (might not be a great word choice) are often much more independent as they get older because they are certain in the security of home and mom and dad. Then again, that might just be my kids!

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Old 11-02-2008, 12:37 PM
 
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When I was PG, my good friend in AZ was very concerned about my decision to co-sleep. She kept wanting to send me a bassinette, & insisted I talk to my MW about it. My MW & I had quite a good giggle about it actually! Don't take it to heart, studies actually show that baby's who sleep w/their parents are much more confidant secure people in the long run. & yes, he will sleep on his own whe he is ready. (I'm worried my DD w/ be ready before me!)

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Old 11-02-2008, 03:14 PM
 
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first to answer your question of how people do it... i'm sure it varies from person to person ad there about a million and one 'sleep training' methods out there. but for the most part, they involve letting your child cry.

and so you have a point of reference on the 'other' side, i also have a 5 and 3 yo, both of whom spend much of their infancy and toddlerhood sleeping in my arms or on my back in a baby carrier. these days they can fall asleep of their own accord, though they do still enjoy snuggling to sleep better than doing it alone - and frankly i can't really blame them, seeing as how i also prefer to snuggle to sleep than to fall asleep alone. and they are wonderfully well-adjusted, independent, fun smart little kids.

I have always followed my babies/kids' leads. some have been more high needs than others, and all have gone through phases of being more intense and less intense, easier to put down and more difficult to put down, sleeping long stretches and waking frequently. i certainly don't think there's anything wrong with putting your baby down if s/he doesn't mind, putting a baby monitor on and going about your business - i have done this many times. but i also don't think there's anything wrong with snuggling with baby while you read a book or watch TV or take a nap yourself, even if it's entirely possible the baby would be glad to be put down, if you prefer to have a snuggle or a nap at that particular moment.

i would say that if baby doesn't enjoy being put down and you feel the need to get up and do stuff, you should start babywearing. this has always given me the best of both worlds. DD2 took a nap on my back earlier today while i cleaned out drawers in my kitchen.

and i love the pp's quote about your 36 yo needing you to hold him while he's sleeping heck, by the time he reaches his teen years, you'll be lucky if he admits he *knows* you
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Old 11-02-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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Now that I have my second baby I can't spend hours and hours holding her while she sleeps. I wish I could, like I did with my first. She doesn't mind at all being put down awake and she always falls asleep very peacefully. I think its a matter of personality more than anything, but whenever I find a work free moment I will just sit and cuddle with her on the couch. I got the same kind of flak from friends and relatives when I constantly held my first, but I wouldn't change it for the world. He is now a very independant and happy 6 yr old.
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Old 11-02-2008, 05:06 PM
 
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I totally feel you. I let my LO sleep on me all the time in the first few months.
Don't worry though, now she has learned to sleep through getting put down, and yes it is convenient to be able to walk and move freely and do things while she naps...

However as for being "stuck on the couch..." I will confess that after hours of being stuck on the couch with sleeping baby, I would start to feel numb in the butt... I didn't think much of it until I developed hemorrhoids .

I didn't get them from pushing the baby out- it was from the prolonged pressure on the area when I sat on the couch for hours and hours... So yes, being "stuck" on the couch for hours can be detrimental!
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Old 11-02-2008, 05:16 PM
 
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The only place DS would sleep for the first three months was on me. I lived on the couch.

I worried about it, I stressed about it, I halfheartedly tried getting him to nap in his crib or basinette...and then literally one day he just decided that was enough, and he fussed when we layed together and didn't stop until I put him down on his own.

Yeah, it's nice to get things done while he naps...but I miss holding him while he slept. They are only so small for such a short amount of time...

Sometimes I still remind myself of that now when he is constantly wanting to be held and won't let me out of his sight...pretty soon he'll be toddling around and he might not want all the cuddles he does now, so I try and enjoy every second of it.
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Old 11-02-2008, 08:57 PM
 
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Hold that sweet baby, while you can. : In a few short years, he'll be all grown up. When that happens, are you going to wish you held him more often, or less often? They grow so terribly fast. My son would NOT sleep off my breast for almost his whole first year, and sometimes I was ITCHING for some time to myself. But now he's a busy little toddler and if I try to hold him too long, he squirms away from me and runs off to play. And I wish I could have my snuggly baby back for just a few hours.

If you're unhappy with the situation, or feeling like you'd like to try and get him to sleep alone more, there's nothing wrong with gently attempting to put him down. But if you're happy holding him, no worries. Be assured, he will sleep on his own when he's ready, and your loving holding is filling him up emotionally and building a beautiful bond between you.

There's this enormous cultural pressure to push babies towards "independence" almost right from the beginning. People honestly pity those of us who choose to hold our babies all the time, and keep them close even while they're sleeping. People think babies "should" be sleeping alone, and that it's terrible if they don't, and that if you don't "make" them do it right from practically their first hour out of the womb, they'll NEVER do it. That's hogwash, but people believe it. Your friend is probably honestly concerned for you. Just say thank you for her concern, but you're happy with how things are going.

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Old 11-02-2008, 10:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by not_telling View Post
I do know my friend was trying to be helpful...as she put it, I need to look out for my own physical and mental well-being (she said she had needed her own mom to tell her that), and as DS keeps getting heavier, constant carrying will get tougher and tougher (and I thanked her for sharing her mommy experiences with me). I also think my friend is less content than me to be "sitting around" (she runs marathons, I read and watch TV).

We didn't get into the whole bed-sharing thing in this conversation, but I think she knows that DS is in our bed. She made a point of saying (in a follow-up email) that both her girls have slept in their own beds from day 1 and were sleeping through the night by 3 months (I had told her that DS typically has a good 4-5 hour stretch each night, and sometimes even 6-7 hours), and both have turned out happy and well-adjusted.

I guess a question is...and I think I just saw another thread today about this...how do you get your baby used to sleeping on his/her own? I mean, if it's a matter of "getting him more and more used to it", how does that work? Just try to put him down in his co-cleeper every day for a nap, pick up when he cries, then putting back down? Over and over? I know putting him down sleepy-but-awake would not work for him, but the two times he napped successfully in the co-sleeper I put him down asleep. The first time he woke up after 5 minutes and started crying. I gave him my finger to suck and he was back to sleep in about a minute and stayed that way for an hour.
Well, for my first kid, I did lots of things in several different ways. I would nurse him until he came off of my breast in his sleep on his own. Then I'd swaddle him up tight and lay him on his side in his basinet. The first few times I would do this he would wake up quickly. I'd go and pick him up and hold him as soon as he woke up and fussed. Sometimes, I'd have gotten whatever I needed to get done done by the time he would wake up and then I could hold him for the rest of his nap. If not, then I'd hold him until he fell back asleep. I could tell when he was "lightly" sleeping and when he was in a deep sleep. When he was in a deep sleep, I'd do the same thing again, swaddle him up and put him down on his side. Sometimes this bought me another 5 mins to finish what I was doing. Sometimes he'd stay asleep even longer. But I never let him cry or anything. I just put him down, and went back to get him if he woke up and cried for me. I only put him down when I needed to. Otherwise I'd let him sleep on me. I did all of this before I got really good at babywearing. After a few days of putting him down in his basinet from time to time on a needed basis, he got more used to his basinet and would stay asleep in it for longer periods of time.

The other thing I would do with him was to let him sleep on the bed. This was after I got side lying nursing downpat. That took me a while to do. I'd lay beside him until he nursed himself to sleep and came off. Then I'd "escape".

I never CIO'ed in order to put my first kid down for a nap. I'd always just come back and be with him, lay beside him, or pick him up whenever he woke up and cried. Eventually he realized I hadn't "left" him when he woke up, and he'd shock the devil out of me because I'd think he was still sleep, and peep at him during his "nap" to make sure he's ok and his big ole eyes are right there staring back at me. :

But the more I'd put him down the more he'd get used to taking his nap wherever I'd put him.

My second kid is 2 weeks old, and he is much better about sleeping on his own. The only thing he wants is to be swaddled up tightly and snuggly and he'll sleep to his heart's content.
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Old 11-03-2008, 01:42 AM
 
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In a few short years, he'll be all grown up. When that happens, are you going to wish you held him more often, or less often?
:

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Old 11-03-2008, 01:59 AM
 
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My two year old needed to be held and could not be put down to nap at all. Even up to when she dropped naps at around 26 mos, I had to be right next to her or she'd be up in 10 min. Typically at around two years of age, though, humans develop the ability--naturally--to be able to fall asleep on their own. DD1 now sleeps from 9-9 every night, only waking to potty, and falls asleep quickly and easily. I'm not saying this will happen, just that it follows average untampered-with (by sleep "training" techniques) development. I hold or sling DD2 as well, and only lay her down to sleep at night. This started out of convenience and because anytime I would put her down to sleep my toddler would wake her up as she is a light sleeper out of my arms but would sleep if it was quiet :. She quickly learned her night/day pattern though, and after reading some other posts about baby sleeping habits, I think this may be part of it. I like to have her in the pouch sleeping during a long walk. Now that the rainy weather has started I'm not sure if we can keep that a regular thing, but even having her in the pouch while I get some things done around the house works ok, however difficult that can be!

I'm a proud mama of two girls! 4/30/06 Madeline, 09/25/08 Amelia
--**I'm here to share my mistakes and learn from yours**--
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Old 11-03-2008, 12:40 PM
 
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My approach to this one is to bury the person with facts. I get great satisfaction out of being able to say "Actually, most of the world's babies sleep with a parent, and in many cultures babies are held continuously (either in a carrier or in a person's arms) for the first 6 months at least." If the theory about never learning to sleep on their own was correct, we would have billions of people in the world unable to fall asleep without Mummy.

And then, if necessary, I go on to tell them about our cultural preoccupation with independence, with the way an infant's heartbeat and breathing actually entrain with that of the parent who holds them...etc etc.

It's ridiculously satisfying to be able to tell advice-givers this stuff. It's a polite way of saying "actually, I know exactly what I'm doing and I have the research to prove it, thanks."
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Old 11-03-2008, 12:50 PM
 
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I truly miss being able to lay around the house with a sleeping baby. I also miss the 3 hour nursing marathons. I loved having a reason to veg-out with the baby.

Now that mine is 2.5 years old, we are a go-go-go household.

Cuddle your baby now while you can.
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Old 11-03-2008, 01:31 PM
 
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If you keep holding him while he sleeps, then he knows he has an awesome mommy that loves him very much!!!!!!

SANDRA, 41 year old VERY laid-back mama to VERY free range kids Brett (16), Justus (11), Autumn (4), and Ayla (1)... four perfect NCB's! :::
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Old 11-03-2008, 03:20 PM
 
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With my 1st child, for some inexplicable reason I was was worried about the same thing. Now, 4years later, she goes to bed..by herself...in her own bed...without nursing/lullabies/rocking/what have you. I realized something this time around. What is true today, won't be tomorrow. They grow out of everything.

waiting on the power of the three wolf moon. 
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Old 11-03-2008, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ians_mommy View Post
I hate "never" statements.
He will "never learn to sleep without you".
So, when he is 36, you will have to hold him while he sleeps? Me thinks not!
Whenever I get "never" statements, I always turn the statement around like that and it shuts the naysayer up.
NO! They will NEVER learn to sleep alone! NEVER! You will have to go to college with him and hold him in his dorm bunk! And you'll have to follow him and his wife on his honeymoon. And you can't die! Because then he will NEVER sleep! NEVER! NEVER!!!!

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Old 11-03-2008, 04:59 PM
 
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NO! They will NEVER learn to sleep alone! NEVER! You will have to go to college with him and hold him in his dorm bunk! And you'll have to follow him and his wife on his honeymoon. And you can't die! Because then he will NEVER sleep! NEVER! NEVER!!!!


LOL... I once took a picture of my 15 year old "co-sleeping" with me, to appease the mainstream birth board "nevers" that yes indeed, my 15 year old still needs rocked to sleep. Boy, those mainstream boards can get defensive. LOL! *rolls eyes*

SANDRA, 41 year old VERY laid-back mama to VERY free range kids Brett (16), Justus (11), Autumn (4), and Ayla (1)... four perfect NCB's! :::
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