Sleep Training Twins

The thing is, I hate it.  I hate it the very most when I finally am on the ropes, tapping out, screaming “UNCLE”, waving a white flag, surrendering and have no plan for what to do next. Especially at 3:00 AM.  The early AM hours bring out a special intense version of me-as-a-knuckle-head, just wondering if there’s someone who will please be in charge of this family just until 7 AM when I can resume my regularly scheduled duties.  Sheppard and Smith are not particularly bad sleepers.  It’s just that they’re not all that predictable.  Some nights, they’ll wake up twice, I’ll nurse them, and they’re down for the count.  Then some nights, they’re wanting to get up every 1 1/2 hours, bright-eyed and ready to party.  I do love a good party.  But I do not love the party that happens when I put them back in their cribs and they rebel-yell for two or more hours.  No, that is not my kind of party.  And that is exactly the party we had on Wednesday night, which was following a similar Tuesday night party and by Thursday morning I was having a baby-party hangover in the worst way.

Whaddya mean you're tired? WE ARE NOT TIRED!

So.  I finally reached out to Natalie Diaz, a parenting professional, whom I had met in the nursing lounge/sex shop of the Brooklyn Baby Expo.  Natalie runs Twiniversity which is a website I joined early on in my pregnancy so I could get an eyeful of what parents of twins talk about. Now, if you know me and let’s face it you do know me I’m an open book, or at least an open website – anyway, asking for help is not my strong suit.  But I emailed Natalie and asked a dumb question which she used her super decoder ring to reply thusly:

I know what you are going through and you are a trooper woman, you will be totally fine! You’ve been through this before and this is just twice as hard, but no different.
If you want, you can give me a call today and I can walk you through what to do tonight if you like. I’ve coached 100′s of parents on how to get their monkeys to sleep.
I’m here for ya woman! Use me!

Bath nap. Not recommended by experts.

And this is the moment that love bloomed.  She wasn’t promising results for a fee, advice for a dime, or support for some cash. Nope. This here other mother of twins was simply offering help to a stranger. And. Then I took what felt like my first breath of the day. To have someone just tell me I’m doing it wrong or I’m doing it right or even that I’m in the ballpark of hope, that’s all I needed. We talked.

Natalie presented a plan for me. It is a simple plan, one that she’s seen work, and then told me to run it by my pediatrician. I was a little “Meh” on calling the doc, but Nat emphasized that I should do that.  She told me that in the wee hours of the morning, as the babies are crying, I’m going to wonder if what I’m doing is ok.  And if the doc has told me that medically it’s ok, that’s going to stop me from second-guessing myself. She was, of course, absolutely correct. I called my doc who didn’t even skip a beat before she said to go for it, it is 100% fine. The babies are ok to go.

So what’s the plan? Cutting out the night feeding. My boys are asleep in their crib every night by 7. They wake up to be fed usually around 11.  Then maybe 1 or 2, and then again around 5.  Nat advised me to cut out the feedings after 11/11:30, letting them sleep until 7 am. So at 11pm, Anson goes in, changes their diapers, then hands them off to me for a “dream feed”.  She said that it’s better if we wake them than to wait for them to cry – further enforcing that crying doesn’t get them picked up/nursed at bedtime. So I give them a big feed, trying to keep them as asleep as possible, hand them back to Anson, who puts them in their safe little cozy cribs, and that’s it for the night.  No more feeds, pick ups, pats, songs, rocks, fretting or hand-wringing, you dig?  I do.  I dig.

And the thing that surprised me the most – Natalie assures me that the babes can smell me – smell my milk. And that me sleeping in the room with them is probably keeping them up when they wake up at night. So another part of this plan is me getting out of dodge while we re-program our little bots. So I’m on the couch for the next little bit.

And last night was our maiden voyage.  I have to admit that I felt tremendous guilt, knowing they would wake, and probably cry their little strong hearts out for a long time .  But even knowing that, I allowed myself a little bit of pleasure knowing I’d be on the couch where I could not hear them, and sleeping the longest stretch I have been allowed to sleep in five months. I did of course stupidly wake up a few times and turn on the monitor – just to hear a report – and did hear some rather emphatic wailing a few times.  Tonight, I am giving the monitor to Anson to hide from me. No sense. I am dumb.

Natalie said her hope for me is that they will be sleeping through the night by Monday.  That is quite a hope, is it not? And I can do this hard time with that hope. I know the babies probably think I suck the most right now. But when they’re getting a nice stretch of uninterrupted sleep, I have a feeling they’re going to be happier, I’m going to be happier, and that makes for a happy family.

Do we look unhappy to you?

I’ll let you know how it goes – until then – please let me know how and when and what kind of results you’ve gotten with sleep training techniques. I love hearing that I’m not alone in these here woods.

[Reminder: This is obviously a hot-button issue.  So many great parents, so many great parenting philosophies and beliefs.  I honestly enjoy reading about other people's experiences and opinions, and appreciate each one that takes the time to leave a comment.  Just remember to be respectful of each other.  Play nice.  Feel free do disagree with me, or anyone here - but do it in a way that is constructive. Name-calling and other nastiness doesn't have a place here. Thanks!]

83 thoughts on “Sleep Training Twins

  1. How soon can I start this? I have a3 year old that received no training and we are still dealing with sleeping through the night. I am determined to train this 2 month old. You are doing the right thing!

  2. Great question Jeannette! I don’t know – the boys are 5 months old. I’d ask my pediatrician. It seems as though once it is ok for them to go longer stretches without being fed would be the right time. Obviously we don’t want to let them cry if they really are hungry. Ask your doc- or maybe a reader will have an answer….anyone?

  3. How about my almost 3 year old ? He is still up 4 times a night wanting to nuzzle me…..?? How can I fairly kick him out when my 7 year old is on the other side of me sleeping very soundly through the night.

    I need to wean him asap as he is like a wild beast and I am his dinner. Soon he will attack me with a fork.

  4. I say, go for it! I have a 4-year-old (what they call “strong-willed”) and, as the first of our two boys – read: we were clueless – he figured us out real quick. We had no idea he was calling the shots when he was a baby. We thought we were providing much-needed comfort to our sweet wittle baby. If you can show them that crying does not automatically mean “MOM IS HERE” then you’re already a step ahead. We had a good 1.5 years of sleep-training with our older kid. Oh, and the younger? I don’t know if he’s just mellower by nature or if it’s us, but he’s the kid we wish the first one had been, sleep-wise.

  5. LOVE Natalie. Haven’t talked to her in years, but I would take her advice any day. Natalie, if you read this, HELLO, HOW ARE YOU??? (from Erin from Small Bites)!

  6. I would do it. I have tried it, but my problem has always been that I live in a tiny house, and I cannot go sleep anywhere that I cannot clearly hear the crying. And although it hurts my heart, my heart can take it. What I can’t take is not being able to sleep myself while I hear them scream. After a couple hours I always caved, and just pulled them to bed with me and stuck a boob in their mouths to shut them up so I could sleep a little. DUMB. But I had to get up at 6 and go to work, it was, like, survival.
    (By “they” I mean my two singletons – I don’t have twins, but both my kids had sleep troubles. Til the age of 1, when I weaned them, and did not cave on the nursing issue.)
    I’m a big fan of cry it out. Do it. Absolutely worth it. They’ll live!

  7. How I love those twins. Hope this works for you, you need your rest for these cuties.

  8. I did the same thing for my kid when he was 5 months. We had to break the nursing to sleep routine because it was like he was up all. night. long. Not awake, but not going back to sleep. We let him cry it out at nap time because, like Gillian wrote, nighttime sleep is about survival. At least it is for this full time working then-zombie mom. It helped tremendously, and he slept better in a week. That said, you probably will have to revisit this at some point if you’re anything like me. We were having some really great 12 hour stretches of sleep that have now disappeared at 13.5 months. I have no idea if he’s hungry – the ped says no – but he’s underweight, so I feed him. I think we created a monster and will have to revisit this, which is awful. Sleep training is awful to live through. Good luck! I’m sure it will work. Just stay strong. And, good on Anson for being the one to listen to the crying.

  9. Thats pretty much how we did it for both annabel and jonah – although i must say I had also started rice cereal as well (for the dinner feeding) …..and before you know it they will be asleep by 7 for the night! good luck!! you can do it. oh, and she is definitely right about getting out of the room.

  10. What helped us was to learn about sleep patterns, normal glitches (growth spurts, teething, etc.) from a book called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. (this is NOT a paid endorsement, really!) It’s not a “training” thing but helps you help your kiddos develop good habits, like going to bed when tired. *gasp* This old mama could’ve used THAT freakin’ lesson. Anywhoo, it’s my mission to tell all new parents about this book. It’s worked for our three kids so far…

  11. My baby boy was not easy in most respects, but sleeping was never something he had a hard time with. Being clueless and having been leant a copy of “On Becoming Baby Wise”, we loosely followed the guidelines in that book and it seemed to work for us. By the time he was 8 weeks old he was sleeping through the night. I never slept with him- not sure if that helped matters, though.

  12. You are so not alone. I don’t have twins but I really struggled with the sleeping thing. I hit my threshold of perforated sleep patterns and 2am screaming when she was four months old. I needed to sleep and was at a loss as to what to do. We tried everything, read every book, talked to every other mom I know and the three things that worked for me in the end were this: 1. Added an extra feeding during the day (which, in ALL my conversations with people, NO ONE ever suggested or asked “Is she eating enough during the day?” 2. Did the “dream feed” at night when I went to bed 3. Put her in her own room. Within days the clouds cleared and I began sleeping like a normal human again. Chronicled here if you’re interested:

    http://amamaspeaks.blogspot.com/2010/05/marathons-should-be-reserved-for.html

    http://amamaspeaks.blogspot.com/2010/06/evicted.html

    Also – the one book that has saved our marriage is “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”.

  13. Nothing to add—but just had to say, like the strategically placed bath toy in the bathtime naptime picture.

  14. You can do it mama’s. I love how everyone is being so supportive. You ladies ROCK!
    Keep up the good work Jodie! (Jodi, Jodi, Jodi (I’m chanting) Jodi, Jodi)
    Nat
    P.S. Love you to Erin!

  15. I agree that Twiniversity (because of Natalie) is a fantastic resource to have in your back pocket! Natalie – you rock! And Jodi, I just shared your story with a bunch of MOMs going through this SAME issue!!!! Good luck!

  16. I think Monday is totally doable! Everyone I know that did this method and stuck with it got results in less than a week. The key is being consistent. Good luck! You are so right, good sleep is good for everyone!

  17. First of all, the picture of them sleeping in the tub made me laugh out loud. I have twin girls who are now 6 years old. They were terrible sleepers as babies. I got one hour of sleep a night for almost the first six months or so. I was a total zombie. I finally had to let them scream it out and they became good sleepers. Just stick with it, it will get better and it will help them develop good sleeping patterns. I so feel your pain. The first year was hell, but after that it gets so much better.

  18. You go, girl! :-) Sleep training twinnies is so hard. I have 13 month old twin girls, and *I think* we are over the roughest parts, but I still have one who wakes at least three times a week in the wee hours. Not sure if I am helping matters by going in and giving her milk and rocking and cuddling her, and bringing her to bed with me about once a week when she really won’t calm down. But, like many other mommies who have posted… it’s survival of the working mommy that needs her own sleep! :-)
    I saw two other moms that posted here about the Healthy Sleep Habits book… I have the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins book, and it totally changed how we view sleep for our girls. I heart this book. It is a must-read. :-) My girls were in a co-sleeper in our room for the first six months, but when we finally were able to get them on a good nap schedule and in their own cribs in their own room, we all finally got sleep! :-) Hang in there, this time is soooooo haaaarrrrrrrrdddd, but know that whatever you do, you are doing the right thing, because no one knows your babies better than you! :-) Sending you good sleep vibes! :-)

  19. We live in a big one bedroom and that is exactly the problem we are having with our 8 month old who also does not sleep through the night and wakes up for night feedings. It’s time I also get the hell out of dodge. I’ve always heard that being in the same room with baby you are nursing and not letting them have it is quite like dangling a piece of chocolate cake in someone’s face and not letting them eat it. D’oh!

    We are still looking for that idyllic two bedroom with a laundry list of requirements in our beloved Brooklyn neighborhood – but alas have not found it just yet. How much longer it will take I have no idea but it might be time to move the ol’ platform bed out into the living room!

  20. It’s sad that with all the evidence In psychology research that people still think it’s ok to let their children cry it out. Very sad. It has long term pschological effects. Not good. Do your research people!
    I’m a mother of 2 and extended nursed and coslept. I’m a psychologist.

  21. I understand your need to sleep train twins, that would be a lot to deal with. However, I do not think it is right to expect a baby to sleep 8 hours straight. Do you? I know I wake up most nights to use the restroom, calm myself after a dream, have a cramp, too hot or too cold, turn my pillow over. However we expect babies to be able to just go back to sleep when something is bothering them? Think about how much they grow in that first year. My son wakes up every few hours, and I couldn’t imagine leaving him there to cry. He doesn’t understand I am in the next room, he would think I am gone and never coming back. Why do they stop crying? Survival technique. They have gotten to the point that they think mommy is never coming back. What a way to put your LO to sleep, I am sure he will be a whole lot happier than before. It would be selfish of me to force my young child to sleep throughout the night so I dont have to be tired. However this is towards someone with only one baby. My thoughts might change if I had twins, but I would just hope that DH would be there to help, then it would be like getting up with one. Hope everything works out for you though.

  22. i’m a single mama of twins and a baby. co sleeping definitely is the best thing you can do, honestly. i don’t believe in “crying it out” and saying that “because you’re in the room and they smell your milk that s why they wake”. my little ones aren’t awake all night long and they can smell my milk. if anything it’s making them feel more secure. i find MY kids will actually wake if i’m not in the room!!! they’re infants, they still need your milk when they need it. if they’re hungry, they’ll eat. if not, they’ll sleep. no need to wake a sleeping baby, that’s wrong. absolutely wrong. i coslept with my twins and let me tell you, my being there and readily available for them to eat when they need to i think fostered a bond knowing i’m there to meet THEIR needs. they aren’t here to meet mine. seriously. that’s what being a mother is. remember, it too shall pass…. a great mantra to keep close when those rough moments come. if i could do it alone, anyone can do it. i have to say that.
    another thing that helps from the get-go, especially even moreso as they get older: a gentle routine and stick to it. we do bath/brush teeth, change into jammies, read a book, mama sings lullabyes, they fall asleep peacefully ♥ all THREE of them.
    feel free to email me if you would love some words of wisdom. i’ve been there, done that, all in a gentle, attached parenting manner. it’s awesome once you get the hang of it <3

  23. Agreed with Love2bfree and Danielle. There is a reason it bothers mothers to hear their babies crying, your body is telling you to PICK THEM UP and soothe them. I have never met a doctor that has said its okay to leave them crying for hours. That is just ridiculous. All doctors I have talked to tell me no more than 20 min. Babies cry for a reason, if its not that important they will go back to sleep, if they continue crying for more than a half an hour something is wrong and they need you! I know I would hate to think that the one (or two) people that I rely on 100% have abandoned me at such a critical time of need! My twin girls are 13 months and sleep through the night almost every night now, but didn’t for the first 10 months. I am so happy that I chose to soothe them throughout the night. They have so much trust in us as parents. I don’t like hearing parents say, “Well they are fine today.” Is fine really okay? I would rather say, they are exceptional!

  24. “further enforcing that crying doesn’t get them picked up/nursed at bedtime. ”
    :( This line made me sad. I am the polar opposite, I want my kids to know that I am there for them always…if they ever thought that crying for me is useless, I would consider that the biggest failure as a parent.

  25. I have a 5 month old who still wakes 3 times a night. I co sleep and just dream nurse him to bed. Crying is the only way he can talk to me. He can’t tell me he’s scared, or that he’s feeling frightened or that maybe he just needs a snack. Ya know, at 5 months, they need to know you’ll be there for them to soothe them. For goodness sake, this is merely a page in their book of life and one day you’ll be begging to rock them to sleep. Stop trying to rush a baby o grow up. They do it fast enough on their own!!!

  26. Please consider co-sleeping. Babies’ brains are programmed with prehistoric fears of being alone at night. It isn’t their fault. If a baby was left alone during our early years as a human race, they would cry for good reason – they need the protection of a parent and were calling out for it. Those primal urges are not gone yet! We cannot expect our children to evolve merely because we *want* them to. Stay with them; let that primal part of them know they are safe and protected. You’ll get your sleep much better if you are right beside them. You can take a side off the cribs and roll them right up to your bed. Hold their hands as they cry, snuggle with them, nurse them, comfort them. They need you. May your nights be peaceful…

  27. I agree with the later posters. I find it absolutely outrageous that any doctor would be okay with a baby left to cry by himself for hours on end. And find it even more appalling that a mother would actually let it happen.

    Babies grow up too fast. Don’t try to force them to make it happen faster. Im an adult and wake up several times per night (thirsty, use the bathroom, fix the blankets, etc). Babies do the same thing, only they can’t get a drink or fix the blankets by themselves!!

    I find it heartbreaking that any mother would separate herself from her children for the specific purpose of not being able to hear them cry. How in the world are you going to know if something is wrong?! Babies cry for a reason. It’s not to “manipulate” you. Sleep training and scheduled feedings can (and will) negatively impact a breastfeeding relationship and the advice you got from that woman has to be some of the most cruel, heartless advice I’ve ever heard. It’s right up there with good ol’ Ezzo.

    I really hope you reconsider what you’re doing and do some more research.

  28. I can completely empathize with not getting enough sleep. It is some of the worst kind of hell there is and I went through it with my fourth baby. The first six months of her life, she could not sleep more than a half hour to 1.5 hour stretch. This was not a “bad night”. This was EVERY night. For six freakin’ months. It had pretty serious repercussions for our entire family. We were ready to try almost anything. Almost.

    The good news is, we got through it, some how or other, and things are a little better now (she’s nearly two) though I suspect she’ll never be a great sleeper, it’s not in her nature. The bad news? The science simply does not support the safety of crying it out. I hate to say it but your doctor is wrong. Your friends are wrong and the above posters are all wrong when they say “it won’t hurt the babies”. They all need to do a little research because the scientific evidence is out there now that it really does hurt babies in a very real physical, as well as psychological, sense. It’s very frustrating but the sad truth is, doctors tend to fall woefully behind on the latest research when it comes to parenting matters. They are very poor sources of information on breastfeeding, sleep problems and parenting in general and often, can offer no better advice than the next parent (and if they are not parents themselves, I wouldn’t give any credence at all to their parenting opinions, just as I wouldn’t any other non-parent).

    Please understand, I am not trying to slam you or minimize how difficult lack of sleep can be to cope with. I really, really (REALLY) know what you are going through. It’s just about the worst thing I’ve ever had to cope with. But that doesn’t make “crying it out” methods any safer for babies, no matter how desperate I or any other parent may be. If you decide to go ahead with this plan, please do so knowing exactly what risks you are taking with your babies. Anyone who is lulling you into a false sense of security about the safety of this plan is doing neither you nor your babies any favours at all. :-( Do your own research. Your babies are worth it!!!

  29. P.S. I wanted to add, while you are doing your research, you might want to learn a bit about what is “normal sleep” for babies that age. Unfortunately, it’s not what we adults would like it to be. Your babies aren’t manipulating you in the night. They very truly NEED you. They are hardwired that way and there is nothing they (or you) can do about it. You can’t change the fact that they still need you, you can only teach them that they can’t always count on you to be there when you need them and that they really are truly alone. This isn’t even a lesson I want to teach my teenagers, much less my babies.

  30. I totally feel for you. I can only imagine how exhausted you are. I totally agree with these later posts, that ignoring your babies’ cries is heartbreaking. Babies are humans, and I find it hard to ignore ANY human crying in a room – baby or adult. Babies communicate through crying, they are not trying to manipulate you, they are wanting to connect with you. We have found the peaceful solution of co-sleeping (safely of course) with our babies. Worth it for this short season of our lives.. 2 big mattresses on the floor, me, hubby, 2 yr old and 5 mth old.. all snuggled together. Plenty of rest and we all sleep through the night. Baby feeds a couple of times in the night, but I barely notice. We love it. Please look into the science of attachment for the sake of your precious babies. There are some great links about the con of CIO here: http://www.pinky-mychild.com/index.php/sleep/22-the-con-of-controlled-crying

    CIO may work for some, but I always ask: at what cost?

  31. Co-sleep if you need to sleep, don’t force five month olds to cry for hours on end in fear and hunger. That’s insanity to me. I have twins, a little over two. They weren’t always the best sleepers but because they slept beside me my sleep wasn’t terribly interrupted by their growth spurts and restless nights.

    These babies are *five months old* they are too young to night wean. I would seriously question anyone who pushed to night wean and do extreme CIO at such a young age. It really
    saddens me to stumble across this blog.
    http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/handout2.asp

  32. I have to say im sort of glad the responses have taken a turn…I read this when nat posted it originally and was reluctant to disagree because it seems every time I do im attacked because moms feel im criticizing their parenting when really I just want to be helpful.

    First of all, congrats on breastfeeding this long, I know it is not easy having been there myself. However, I am concerned that this sudden separation will eventually impact your milk supply as it most often does, if you wernt planning on weaning anytime soon, you may find yourself in that situation because technically you are “night weaning”.

    As far as the crying out…I never let my twins cry, I just felt they needed me and it wasn’t too much to ask. Before you know it they’ll be 13 and wont need you, and you’ll long for those days. BUT, in keeping with the previous posters, CIO raises the stress hormone (cortisol) and studies are showing that the raised levels cause the brain to remain undeveloped or underdeveloped in some areas. I can post links if you’d like, but studies like this are performed by university researchers who really don’t have any hidden interest in the subject. Other “research” that has said it is “OK” is largely by someone trying to sell you a book. For example, the original champion of CIO has gone back and contradicted his own methods, but the common practice of CIO had already become mainstream.

    Now I know, I know, im going to get 20 parents on here to tell me their kids cried it out and they are “fine.” Really? I never aspired to have children who were “fine” but hey that’s just me, I consider my kids spectacular, not fine.

    I hope you don’t consider this smug or condescending, I just want to share another perspective for you. Your babies deserve the best and there’s a reason it breaks your heart when you hear them cry, because you know what the best is!

  33. Oh, mama, I feel your pain. I have 14 month old twin boys, and the short story is that sleep didn’t come easy in the early months. The long story is at my blog: http://attachedatthenip.blogspot.com/2010/12/evolution-of-sleep.html

    When Gus and Jack were colicky and waking every hour or so to nurse, I was desperate for a solution to get them (and me!) more sleep. I decided against any sort of sleep training, though, after doing some research.

    Babies are hardwired to cry to communicate their needs. And their need for mama is just as powerful as their need for food or sleep. Also, breast milk is so easily and quickly digested that babies naturally wake hungry in the night. Most pediatricians I’ve come in contact with are not familiar enough with breastfed babies to safely and accurately dictate night time parenting. They are also not nutritionists, so I was always very careful to take nutrition advice from a pediatrician with a handful of salt, not just a grain. There is a pediatrician who is also a International Board Certified Lactation Consultant called Dr. Jen. You can check out the notes on her Facebook page for some excellent information on normal night time infant behaviors. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lakeshore-Medical-Breastfeeding-Medicine-Clinic/134844053221572

    Also, please know that cry-it-out is a solution for parents, not for babies. They may stop crying after a prescribed number of minutes– or hours?– but they are not happy or self-soothed. They are despondent. They are learning that mama is not coming, and they shut down to conserve energy. They have to use precious reserved calories for physical functions instead of developing and growing neural connections. There is a treasure trove of research-backed information at http://www.drmomma.org/.

    Our babies are little for a short time. This sounds like an empty platitude to a sleep-deprived mama, but it’s true. There are multiple solutions for getting better sleep– even for multiples! You could side-car a crib or two to your bed, you could put your bed plus another mattress on the floor and create a safe sleep space for you and your little ones. Bed sharing with twins is possible, especially if you intend to preserve the breastfeeding relationship.

    Kudos to you, mama, for nursing and for searching for solutions for you and your family. I hope that you can continue looking for one that meets the needs of you and your babies! Please feel free to email me or stop by my blog if you want more information. Best of luck to you!!

  34. Any method that gets the people their sleep is truly fabulous, unless it involves potions, powders, or pills (save those for the teen-years.) Whichever fits your lifestyle is the one you should employ.

    I’m fairly sure if you lined up a bunch of kids, you wouldn’t be able to detect who uni-sleeps or co-sleeps. I wonder though if you’d be able to tell which of their parents co-sleep with the young-uns? They’re probably the ones who haven’t had much, uh, grownup time with their adult partner.

    But I’m all for birth-control, whatever form it takes.

    But I digress.

    Honest questions:

    How do you ever get time with your spouse to talk, read, watch a video, have sex, etc. if you go to bed with the kiddos? I mean, the kids must be in on all of this right? Eek. I’m thinking this is a major relationship cramper for the parents. If you’re talking about the animal-nature of our species, this isn’t going to benefit the pack. The top-dogs need to keep their union secure. (And spicy, I hope.)

    How do you ever go out at night and get a baby sitter? Does the baby sitter have to go co-sleep the kids? Won’t this warrant stiffer rates? I know my teen would double her fee.

    I guessing this co-sleeping means never being able to take a little vacay with the love of your life (your spouse/partner)? Unless you get Grandma on board and in bed too? Um. More eek.

    Sleepovers? Deal-breaker I guess.

    How do you ever get off this co-sleep train? I know parents who blissfully subscribed to this method in the early

  35. (oops. dog walked across keyboard and posted^^^)

    How do you ever get off this co-sleep train? I know parents who blissfully subscribed to this method in the early years and are now trying to pry their 7-8 year-olds out of their bed.

    Anyhow. Saying, it’s time for you to sleep on your own, lil’ buddy, was ultimately a kindness I showed my kids in my mothering experience. For all of us. If we lived in a cave with no door in a non-doorman building, I might believe differently. But here we are in a safe secure place! No need to worry at night, peanut.

    And being able to happily sing the lullabies, close the door, and then watch MadMen with my spouse ain’t a bad thing.

  36. I would really like to see some cites on the “they can smell your milk and therefore wake up” claim. And if it is true, perhaps it is For A Reason.

    Lastly, do you really mean it that you don’t want your 5 month old infants to know that if they cry they will be picked up/comforted?

  37. Um, Lori, we bed-shared with all our babies and still managed to conceive four kids (actually nine, but I’ve lost five). Trust me, it’s not a problem. Babyhood is short. If you find you the idea of meeting the continual needs of this tiny human being for the first few years too much–and that’s fair enough–then you need to think twice, three times or more, before going ahead and having a baby. BABIES ARE NOT CONVENIENT.

    Lest my words be misunderstood, I am not in any way at all implying that this momma of twins is not willing to meet the needs of her children. She is probably a fabulous mother and it’s hard as hell coping with sleep-derpivation alone, much less throwing a few babies into the mix. Choose co-sleeping or bed-sharing because it’s good for your baby (or babies), is good for you, gets the family more sleep, whatever. Or decide against it because your family sleep better seperately (my first child actually *hated* sleeping with us or even in our room for a long period of her infancy and loved her crib). So long as everyone–that includes baby–is happy, that’s what matters. But don’t decide against sleeping with or near your baby because you don’t want to have the “inconvenience”.

    All mine have left my bed of their own choice around age 3. So no, it’s not impossible. And no, we don’t live in caves anymore where our babies need to be protected at night. But our babies don’t know that. This danger has been hardwired into them, so they will be terrified at being left alone and not responded to, no matter how much you try to tell them there is nothing to be afraid of anymore, whether you like that or not. Human beings are mammals who are meant to “wear” their babies, not “stash” them for hours on end while they hunt, like lion cubs, for example. You can’t argue scientific fact.

  38. Vacation without your baby? Seriously Lori? Wow, if you can’t put aside a few luxuries for the first few years of your baby’s life, you’re going to find parenthood one hell of a rude awakening in the coming years. Guess what, kids never stop being an inconvenience. People who don’t want children to interrupt their lives really should consider getting a dog instead. Or a cat.

    Or a fish.

    Jodi, none of this is directed at you.

  39. Lori….really??? Seriously??? The only place you can have sex is in your bed??? Not a problem here at all, as we have an imagination. So long as a child is in our bed, we get creative and do “it” elsewhere. Good god, why is this concept so hard for some people to get!

    And trust me, it’s a natural progression of the child to want to move out of the family bed and into their own. There wasn’t any work needed in our family. Our 10yr old has been sleeping in her own bed in her own room for years. Her choice. And since we have no problem w/the little guy snuggling w/us at night still…we all sleep better and we’re in no hurry to boot him out. He’ll leave when he’s ready, just like his sister did.

    I can honestly say that I was truly never sleep deprived w/my babies because I kept them close and responded as they needed. Half the time I didn’t even fully wake up when I popped a boob in their mouth and neither did they. We ALL slept quite well, thank you.

    Sleep training has been proven by very good studies, a very famous one by Harvard, Google it, to be very HARMFUL. It raises their blood pressure, not good, and floods their brains w/stress hormones from an early age. Guess what the outcome is later in life? Yup, high sensitivity to stress. What a great thing to set your future adult child up for. Life is stressful enough on it’s own w/out having a pre-disposition to stress.

    Mommy’s heart tears at the sound of her baby crying for a reason. You’re biologically connected. CIO goes very much against nature and is downright cruel. Think about it…if your elederly grandma cried in the night and you ignored her because “you just need to sleep, Grandma, I’ll attend to your needs in the morning.” That would be completely unacceptable and if you left her crying for hours on end you could be arrested for elder abuse! How is it then ok to do this to a child???

  40. Jodi, I was feeling… not so zen after after reading through the comments (suffice it to say that I’m in the co-sleeping/night comforting camp–I liked the book “No Cry Sleep Solution,” although the title is sort of a misnomer and, yeah, it’s not a quick fix). ANYWAY, I thought to myself, “self? your babies have been sleeping though the night in their own beds for five years and your sex life is great again–don’t sweat it! Go outside! Get some sunshine!” So I went to let our chickens out of their run (suburban chickens–what was I thinking??) and discovered that my husband forgot to open the coop door again after he cleaned it out yesterday. The poor things were probably frantic, trying to get into their “beds” last night. They knocked over their water. They were doing the cross-legged gotta-go-lay-an-egg dance, because they couldn’t get to the nest box. Which I share with you, not because it makes any kind of a nice, tidy point, but because it was kind of funny and ironic (because I was always struck by the worry that, while your baby might not need to eat during the night, what if they’re actually thirsty? and crying works up a big thirst–SORRY CHICKENS!!!), and I guess we never get to stop feeling like a goober. Enjoy your sleep! Those are some beautiful babies!

  41. Wow.

    I’m pregnant with my first child. Remind me to not ask people for help/advice unless I want to be scorned and ridiculed.

    The funny thing is – I think everyone who has posted all want the same thing. Healthy, happy, well-adjusted kids who grow up to be happy, healthy adults.

  42. Is it too late to trade my tween and teen in for the cat and fish?

    Just kidding.

    Sort of.

    Ok. Kidding!

    No really. It all worked out beautifully with everyone in their own bed from day one. And I treasure the much needed teensy vacay with my husband at baby’s 6 mo “birthday”, leaky boobs and all. Granny treasures it too. Baby doesn’t remember. Just keeps borrowing my clothes now, dammit.

    Not rethinking it, but now upon thinking again I know. Flexibility and independence were so right for us. (and Granny!!)

    Maybe not for everyone though.

    No matter. Youll have to hide you favorite clothes either way.

  43. Lori your post made me sort of giggle. I dont want to hijack jodis questions, but wanted to answer yours. I knew I would give up many things when I got pregnant, intimacy with my husband was not one of them! Yes my twins were a 24-7 blurr for the first couple months, so sex? Pfffft, we were lucky if we got to brush our teeth! Our twins are 2, i put them to sleep in their OWN beds now, and they get up around 2am “mommy IN!” And ask to sleep with us. So I have plenty of “adult” time in between. How could I deny them the comfort of snuggling up to mommy and daddy? We don’t sleep alone! With a child a bit older you can reason with them that they are safe and loved, but you cant do that with an infant, they need to feel that trust. The whole “theyll self soothe” is a bunch of crap people believe after watching “meet the fockers”. They don’t “soothe” period. They either give up on you or exhaust themselves to sleep. Sad. Not something id want my little ones to have to experience.

    I have friends with many different cosleeping schedules, and i dont see it as any more challenging than parents who let their little ones stay up until all hours, theres no adult time there anyway!

    I must admit I love staring at those curly mops of blonde hair first thing in the am…mmmm….it is heaven…I can’t beging to fathom how much I will miss it when I’m old. (On a side note, my husband is a cop and many of his friends are too, some couples never sleep together because of night shifts and they always manage to have babies)

  44. I was never able to stand letting babies cry more than the usual prescribed 20 minutes. And my sister-in-law was one of those mothers who NEVER picked up a crying baby unless he needed to be fed or changed.

    And STILL, I completely agree with the commenter who said that you probably couldn’t pick out the kids in a lineup who were sleep trained or not. Especially since we’re talking about 3 days, here? I seriously doubt that there will be lasting damage from doing hardly anything for just a few days.

  45. So now I am back and I do have something to add. I have known plenty of moms who fell in the camp of let ‘em cry it our and have well adjusted and more than “fine” children. Ditto for moms that fall in the camp of pick-em up. All-in-all I am convinced that at the end of the day what makes a child grow up to be a happy well-adjusted, amazing person is the fact that the child was raised in a household with unconditional, consistent love. Having visited your blog through the years, I am completely confident that you provide the loving environment that children will thrive in.

  46. Hi, Lori. Some previous posters did a great job of explaining the “making more babies” part of co-sleeping, but I just wanted to pop back in the conversation (hope you don’t mind, Jodi!) and explain what some of the terms mean.

    Co-sleeping actually refers to sharing a room with your child. It covers everything from having the baby in a bassinet to having your toddler on his own mattress on your floor, and everything in between. One of my favorite methods is turning the crib into a side-car, which extends the bed.

    Bed-sharing or sleep-sharing is when the baby/child is actually on the same sleep surface as the parent.

    And, nowhere in the “rules” does it say you have to go to bed when the babies do! In fact, my husband and I have gotten quite adept at getting the boys to sleep on our bed and then having some adult time (and all that entails) for a few hours until we go to bed. I won’t lie, though, they wake at night to nurse. And sometimes they wake when I creep into bed. But not always. And I’ve learned to nurse two while laying on my back and sleeping. It works for us!

    As for taking vacations with hubby and letting Nana take the boys overnight, well, there will be time for that later. They just keep growing up, and soon the baby phase will be over. A secure attachment to mama is worth waiting a few years for our second honeymoon!

  47. Tina asks “How is it then ok to do this to a child???”

    Easy Tina. It’s ok to do this to babies because babies can’t talk. It’s why doctors believed (and told parents) for years up to until relatively recently, that babies feel no pain. Yikes. If you can’t speak up for yourself, you don’t get a say. :-(

    Dr. Kim, I’d love to believe what you say and certainly, a child is the sum (among other things) of her/his whole upbringing, but you simply cannot refute the science, no matter how nicely you word it or how comforting the notion. Leaving a baby to cry it out carries consequences for that baby and for the mother/child relationship, to one degree or another. Simply because you cannot pick out which children were CIO and which were parented with consistent and loving responses does not mean there are not differences or consequences for the CIO children. It only means you cannot readily recognize them. I’m sure it did all work out beautifully, Lori. For you. Unfortunately, your babies couldn’t talk. And if your choices have had any negative impact on your children, how would you know now?

    Who here does not believe their child is worth the time and effort of a little research before making a choice that comes with potential consequences? Laurie, if you were about to make choice for yourself that has been PROVEN to be harmful, would you want others to sit silently by and say nothing for fear of giving offense? And if you were about to make a harmful choice for your baby?

    The oldest argument in the book is “I did xyz and I/my child turned out just fine”. But who knows what “fine” is and how much better things could have been if better choices had been made. Anecdotal evidence can’t compete with good, solid scientific evidence. Here’s a good place to start: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100921163709.htm Interesting research out of Notre Dame. This is also a fantastic source of research backed information: http://www.drmomma.org/.

  48. I was always under the impression that crying it out is not really letting the baby cry for hours on end. Its attending to the babies needs, obviously, but letting them self soothe also. At six months, most babies do not need that night feed because they get enough during the day. Six months is usually when sleep training can happen, mostly because it isn’t just about needs anymore, it is also about wants.

    I don’t co-sleep because I don’t feel comfortable doing it. I also think the bed is meant for me and my husband; that is our space. That might not be the case with other women, but I believe that I cannot raise this child without him and we need our time at night to decompress and talk and hold each other without a baby in the middle. Or trying to sleep. I’m not just Mom, I’m still Rachel too. That doesn’t mean my baby doesn’t get any less attention. It just means that I give myself attention too.

    I am all about raising a healthy, happy, independent baby. And that’s what I’m doing. She’s pretty smart already, and I think a lot of Momma sometime take that for granted; that their babies are actually pretty smart. Its all about your baby though. My 3 almost 4 month old has started sleeping through the night. Sometimes around 3 she fusses, but then she soothes herself back to sleep. She wouldn’t eat even if I tried to feed her. But that’s her. She is such a better baby now that she sleeps all night. Seriously.

    My advice? You’re not dumb. If this doesn’t work for your twins, then try something else. I’m not saying anything new, obviously, but god forbid you try something.

    Just because someone “does everything right” or think that because someone else told them that it was “right” doesn’t automatically make them a good Mom or that their kids are going to turn out perfect.

  49. Lori, you simply have no idea about co-sleeping, as indicated by your ridiculous questions…my 2 year old goes to bed (on a small mattress in our room) at 7pm, my husband and I go to bed around midnight…you do the math! That’s plenty of time to do anything we want to! My older 2 (10 and 7) who were raised the same way, have been in their own room for years now and yes, they go on sleepovers pretty much every weekend.
    To gross you out though, here’s a tidbit, when my husband and i went away for a weekend my mom was here watching them and my little one did sleep with his grandma in the guest bedroom…’eew’ you say?! I feel sorry for you.

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