Baby Sleep Advice, Hot off the Presses!

Instinctive parenting bookI worked with Ada Calhoun at Babble, so I’m happily familiar with her refreshing and straightforward, no BS parenting philosophy. Today Calhoun’s book, Instinctive Parenting: Trusting Ourselves to Raise Good Kids ($15.64) is hitting the shelves (Gallery, 2010) so the rest of you can kick back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the hilarious and insightful Gen X parenting book that reassures us we’re all doing just fine, thank you very much.

Sleep, always a hot topic on the playground and in the pediatrician’s office, is the subject of the chapter, The Great Sleep-Training Debate. I sat down with Calhoun and asked her to talk about the gulf between the cry-it-out and attachment parenting camps.

One of your examples in this chapter said that our generation of parents is “putting their kids at risk in the name of protecting them from all discomfort.” Why is protecting our kids a bad thing?


I think it’s a bad thing to assume that that’s possible. Life is full of a lot of discomfort. Throughout their whole existence from birth -- which is incredibly painful and distressing -- to graduation from high school, there’s going to be tons of disappointment and frustration. I think this illusion that you can somehow protect kids from that, even in the short term, is wrong.

Sleep training is miserable. You don’t want to hear the kid cry! But it’s short-term versus long-term. If it’s two nights, (of crying) what is that going to be in relation to them being able to sleep their whole childhood in a positive way? It is horrible, but as a parent you have to make the call. I can see further into the future than this baby can. This baby thinks this is the worst thing that’s ever happened. And I know it’s way worse for him if he can never fall asleep without being nursed for the next year.

Do you cater to your child’s every whim or do you not? If you can give them every single thing they want at every single moment -- mommy all the time or macaroni and cheese twelve times a day -- do you do that? I think you don’t. I think you have to deliberately build in some frustration. They’re going to be disappointed eventually or frustrated eventually. It’s hard because you totally have this desire to protect your kid and make them happy. It’s a really great instinct but it’s a question of, is this going to make him happy for the next two seconds? No. But it will make him happy for the rest of his life.

Are you a cry-it-out parent or a co-sleeper?

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