Pointing out the utter futility of trying to follow the various "expert" parenting opinions out there is sort of a hobby of mine. I don't even know how people manage their pregnancies these days without going completely insane, what with the billions of confusing guidelines about what is and isn't okay -- and it just gets crazier once you actually give birth.
That's why I am so in love with mom Ava Neyer's fantastic rant about what the experts have to say about getting her babies to sleep. Her twins, who are now 5 months old, were on different sleep schedules, and Neyer said she went on Amazon and bought a ton of books on baby sleep and development to try and improve the situation. The advice she found, however, will be maddeningly familiar to any wiped-out mom who's ever attempted to abide by the so-called "rules" when it comes to convincing babies to get some shuteye.
Here are some of the highlights from Neyer's 728-word essay that was shared on a friend's Tumblr account:
You shouldn’t sleep train at all, before a year, before 6 months, or before 4 months, but if you wait too late, your baby will never be able to sleep without you. (...) Naps should only be taken in the bed, never in a swing, carseat, stroller, or when worn. Letting them sleep in the carseat or swing will damage their skulls. If your baby has trouble falling asleep in the bed, put them in a swing, carseat, stroller, or wear them.
Put the baby in a nursery, bed in your room, in your bed. Cosleeping is the best way to get sleep, except that it can kill your baby, so never, ever do it. If your baby doesn’t die, you will need to bedshare until college.
Swaddle the baby tightly, but not too tightly. Put them on their back to sleep, but don’t let them be on their backs too long or they will be developmentally delayed. Give them a pacifier to reduce SIDS. Be careful about pacifiers because they can cause nursing problems and stop your baby from sleeping soundly. If your baby sleeps too soundly, they’ll die of SIDS.
Don’t let your baby sleep too long, except when they’ve been napping too much, then you should wake them. Never wake a sleeping baby.
Using CIO will make them think they’ve been abandoned and will be eaten by a lion shortly. It also causes brain damage. Not getting enough sleep will cause behavior and mental problems, so be sure to put them to sleep by any means necessary, especially CIO, which is the most effective form. Extinction CIO is cruel beyond belief and the only thing that truly works because parents are a distraction. The Sleep Lady Shuffle and Ferber method are really CIO in disguise or Controlled Crying and so much better than Extinction. All three of these will prevent your child from ever bonding with you in a healthy way. Bedsharing and gentler forms of settling will cause your child to become too dependent on you.
Sleep when the baby sleeps. Clean when the baby cleans. Don’t worry. Stress causes your baby stress and a stressed baby won’t sleep.
Yep, that pretty much covers it. The worst part about trying to make sense of sleep advice is that when you need it, you REALLY REALLY NEED IT. You're exhausted and desperate and looking for solutions, and what's available is highly opinionated, mostly anecdotal, and occasionally downright frightening.
Not to mention how some other parents will treat you for disclosing your own personal sleep tactics. Really, the best advice I think any new mom can get is "Do whatever works, and if it stops working, try something else. And for god's sake, don't tell anyone what you're doing."
Or as Neyer puts it,
A lot of it is learning to read your children (instead of books).
What do you think about this essay? Do you agree that expert sleep advice for babies is all over the map?
Image via surlygirl/Flickr