Trying to get my first born to sleep in a crib literally made me go crazy. Here I was, a fresh, wrinkle-less young mother…and I was confused. I mean, at some point every baby needs to move to a crib right?! My little firstborn had been sleeping with us in our “family” bed for over a year and I thought that it was time to move him into a crib because…well…that’s just what you do in our country right?! Well guess what…he HATED that crib. He despised that crib. He thought that crib was a torture chamber. So then I of course in my new motherhood state thought something was wrong with him! “Why won’t he sleep in this lovely stupid crib?!” Now I know…no, it wasn’t the issue with my little boy. He was a normal kid who wanted to be cuddling with him mother. It was THE CRIB. Otherwise known as the baby torture chamber. *Disclaimer. Your baby might love the crib. And that’s awesome! This article is not about your baby if that’s the case and it clearly didn’t ruin motherhood for you. 🙂 Here are some other articles to read about sleep that you might find helpful: Milk Meg sleep articles.
I am currently living in Australia but I am American and at the time my husband and I were living in the USA with our little boy. Both the USA and Australia (where I live now) are big into the whole crib (cot) thing. Even if you don’t end up using it, you most likely have one in a room somewhere holding your clean yet-to-be-folded laundry thinking, “I should probably use that thing one day.” Here’s the thing though…that crib you have there? It’s basically the single most insanity inducing piece of baby “must haves” that have turned us into crazed maniacs. The invention of the crib ruined motherhood for us all…
Why, you ask? Because they make no sense! And almost every baby on the planet hates them! Here’s why:
- Because we are under the impression that babies actually like to sleep in it. Separated from us. Alone, without boob. Most babies would sleep anywhere…EXCEPT the crib that is marketed directly to them.
- Your baby has been inside of your uterus, growing for 9 months. And is then born as an immature mammal who literally cannot do ANYTHING on his own expect poop, pee, cry and eat. Imagine being so helpless, 100% completely reliant on someone to do everything for you. Now image being slowly rocked and breastfed to sleep and then BAM! Cuddle time over! See ya later.
- The simple act of putting your baby down into the crib will most likely immediately wake them up and put you into a crying state of madness. You will wonder what is wrong. You will think your baby is different to every other baby on the planet. But no. Your baby is like every other baby on the planet. The ones who stay asleep after being put down into the cot either a) have a pacifier, b) have been “shooshed”, sleep trained or taught to “self-settle”, or you have a unicorn baby. And we all hate you.
- If your baby won’t sleep in the crib you think something is wrong with them. Which then translates to you thinking something is wrong with you and what you are doing wrong. Which then translates to you crying. Which then translates to you calling the local sleep consultant to help you child sleep in the said crib that no child would ever want to sleep in. You pay up to $1,000 (or more!) to have the sleep consultant teach you how to teach your baby that they will SLEEP in the baby torture chamber whether they like it or not!
- It makes no sense from a biological perspective. No other mammal on the planet gives birth to such an immature, helpless baby WITHOUT actually staying with them 24/7. No other mammal on the planet sleeps apart from their babies. Most women in the world sleep next to, or with their babies. It’s the biological norm. Sleeping seperate from our babies feels wrong for many of us and most babies don’t like to be apart from us…because it makes no sense from an anthropological, biological perspective.
So what can we do instead?? Because the reality is, if your baby was like mine (sensitive, very “high needs” and “attached”) then the only way you’ll get them to sleep in a crib is with sleep training and some sort of crying from your baby. I never felt comfortable with this and always recommend listening to your motherly instincts and what your baby is trying to tell you. Usually what they are saying is, “Get me out of this baby torture chamber! I want to cuddle!”
Consider co-sleeping or bedsharing following safe guidelines. There are many alternatives to the crib (baby torture chamber). These include a few mattresses on the floor where parents and child sleep next to each other, a side car, toddler bed, bassinet etc. (all following safe sleep guidelines). I have these safe guidelines and detailed suggestions and options about these crib alternatives which can be found in my book, “Boobin’ All Day…Boobin’ All Night. A Gentle Approach To Sleep For Breastfeeding Families”.
For most babies or toddlers it’s the actual TRANSITION from being held and breastfeed, DOWN to the cold, lonely crib that makes them wake up and cry. They want the warm cuddles of their mother! Not the cold crib. So it’s about creating ways to breastfeed them to sleep and avoid the “transition”. This can be done by sleeping with them (following safe bedsharing/co-sleeping guidelines) and then moving YOURSELF away from your baby. So they continue to sleep nicely where they are and YOU are the one who moves away! Brilliant! Then you go and pee, drink a cup of tea, eat chocolate (yup, most mothers can continue to eat chocolate while boobin’!), sit down, catch up on Facebook…all while you little one continues to sleep happily. Because you didn’t try to put them in the crib (baby torture chamber).
Here are some examples of different bedsharing/co-sleeping options that you can try! Thank you to all of the families who follow my Milk Meg Facebook page for allowing me to share these awesome pictures with you. As you can see in these photos, there are no children in the bed where the dog is (both children are in their side car beds next to the parent’s bed), no pillows near baby’s face, no blankets near baby’s heads, no bumpers on side beds). ALWAYS follow safe guidelines. Unfortunately there is no sleeping situation that is 100% risk free whether that is in a crib, or bedsharing with a parent/parents/caregiver. Always use common sense and click on the links at the end of this article for detailed, evidence based information on this. Co-sleeping and/or bed sharing will not work for everyone. Do what’s best for your family!
So many options! Toddler bed on the side of parent’s bed, custom made family bed, toddler rail on the side…
For more information on safe guidelines for co-sleeping/bedsharing, suggestions on how to get more sleep without doing sleep training, stories, research and tips…check this out!