Monday, January 23, 2012

Where Will Baby Sleep?

 Recently traffic on this blog skyrocketed, thanks to a link on Baby Cheapskate.   The content of their article was regarding a Montessori approach of using a floor bed rather than a crib.  This is the post they linked to.  It is about an infant environment and not truly about a floor bed.   Here are a couple of beautiful examples of families doing just this: Tall Tara  and Sew Liberated.   I have never posted on this method because it isn't one we were successful with. 

Enter background story:
 Our first daughter never slept in a crib and she did sleep on a mattress on the floor-but it was as a co-sleeping family.
 We co-slept with Ruth, for 4 years.  I nursed her on demand until she was 2.5 years old.  We were Dr. Sear's dream family.
 Here's the tricky part- I was miserable.
I  believed it was the right way to parent and was determined to accomplish attachment parenting regardless of our families best interests.  We were completely sleep deprived.  Ruth slept on top of me and remained latched on all night, for over two years.  
My lactation consultant had me log her nursing for one week.  One day it was right at 18 hours!  In the beginning I also had to pump between feedings to try to get my milk supply up.  I never succeeded and she had a failure to thrive resulting in formula supplements, which basically became her meals, while I was the snack and constant pacifier.  
At age three she had to be hospitalized in order to have 5 teeth crowned.  Yes, breast milk contains sugar and sleeping with it in your mouth, night ofter night, is very similar to sleeping with a bottle.
 I am not going to go into detail of my medical history/medications/conditions that caused the nursing problems.  You will have to trust me when I tell you I did all that -whatever your suggestion is, or what worked for your friend, and did I talk to Le Leche- and more.  (sorry, I am bit over people telling me what I should have tried.)
 The real problem was I lacked the confidence to trust myself more than a book and other people's opinions.   In my world NOT breast feeding, cloth diapering and co-sleeping is taboo.  In a perfect world that would be the path I stayed on.  The truth is children are not one size fits all.  Sometimes the shoe simply does not fit-not matter how we try to squeeze into it.
Would I do it all over again?  Hell no!
 Okay, actually I have to believe we did what was best for Ruth.  We may have had a rocky first few years, but by age three she was a dream and we haven't ever had 'discipline' problems.  (This is amazing because she will be 15 years old on Sunday.)  I attribute this, in part, to those first years which means it was worth it.  
 I can tell you though, we did things differently with our next three children!  We still co-slept with the second for a few months, less with the third and our fourth maybe a month.  They simply slept better and more regularly in a crib.  I also nursed each one less than the one before.   I am not advocating for any particular method.  I am advocating for parents to be willing to put parenting methods aside for their babies' best interest.  Only you know what is the best way to mama your baby and sometimes that means flexibility.  I am very proud that I learned to stand up for what is best for our family. 
Back to the original point of this post.
 If you are considering a floor bed or co-sleeping, (both wonderful choices) and aren't sure it is best for you, I think this makes a great choice.

We use a pack and play because of our limited space.  Had I known about the Baby Bay we would have used it instead. 


  1. When I had Liam and had so much trouble breastfeeding and felt like I was a terrible mama for not getting it "right", your family and your girls helped me to overcome my guilt and stress about it. Your way of parenting became the model for my own, you showed me an anything goes-do what works-and if the baby is fed and warm all is well approach to being a mom. Your willingness to share your story made me realize that its ok to give formula, it is not a terrible sin like some moms would have you believe. Mav even told me once that he was proud I had chosen formula. That was the last day of my guilt.

    Your approach to Dotty has become my goal for an approach to Liam. I don't know all that you went through with the older girls as I was not around much then, but they are all smart, kind, thoughtful and imaginative people in their own unique ways. That personality in them is something I would love to see in my own son.

    I love that you are willing to share your trials and decisions and thought process with others. In a way, I was able to learn from you and not put myself through some of the anguish I imagine you went through.

    For a while with Liam I felt this need to try and fit him and I into this ideal parenting mold, but I quickly learned that we didn't fit there. To me, you are The Mama, the Mama to look up to, the Mama to learn from and your.... "approval" of my parenting set my mind at ease and helped me accept that I am a good mama. Knowing that it was OK to throw out conventional concepts and do what worked has been awesome. Now, I can not imagine you trying to fit into someone elses ideals, but then I remember you were once a first time mom, just like I am. It gives me hope that one day I can make being a mom seem as effortless and easy as you make it look.

    Having you as someone to look up to has helped me to be a better mama. Thank you for that. Thank you for being so open about something that can not be easy to remember and talk about. Thank you for teaching me that the best thing a mama can do, is to do what seems to be the best choice at the time.

    You are my Mama Inspiration. Thank you for being that to me. I would be lost without you.

  2. I guess it is all about being flexible and not perfect. Perfect does not exist and yet as parents we try to be. I nursed both of my children back in the early 80's when it was not as advocated as it is today. I nursed one for 1 1/2 years and the other for 2. I got lots of disapproval for it, but never have I regretted it. they are amazing, compassionate and smart adults. Caring and loving them is the most important thing we do...however it works for each person and their family...if you bottle feed with love and caring...great! In the end all that really matters is love.

  3. I had nursing nightmares with both my kids when they were babies. We had everything from yeast to staff infections oh and I apparently have my eczema on my nipples too (who knew you could get it there). Needless to say that I ended up using formula in the end with both my kids. Now I have never been one to criticize nursing or not nursing but I sure felt like I have been criticized for bottle feeding. I think what really matters is that babies are fed and feel secure. So anyway thanks for this post and any mommies with little ones don't feel bad if you aren't doing it by the books.

  4. My first daughter was the same as Ruth, I had her on my boob 24/7 because she constantly cried. It was a very hard 6 months for me. I nursed her until she was 8 months and then she went to formula. My second daughter wouldn't latch and because I wanted to be a good mom and breast feed her, she didn't really eat her first couple of days of life and started to lose weight fast! I decided to pump, I got this hands free pump that hooked onto my bra, I looked so funny, it made me look like Dolly Pardon with a super bullet bra, because I could pull my shirt over is and do things around the house. I did this for 6 months and then I said no more. So, I know how you get that guilt about breast milk being the best for your baby, but if you can't do it, you just can't do it and that isn't always a bad thing, thank you for your stories ladies.

  5. I'd just like to commiserate about the dental work. When my still nursing daughter was 2 yrs old she had to have 6 crowns, too. The dentists blamed the breast milk, and maybe that is partially true. In our case I also think it was the prune juice we gave her for constipation and maybe a bit of genetics (I get cavities easily). It was tough to go thru at the time, but in the end they are baby teeth and it's not a permanent problem.


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