We all have our own unique ways of parenting, usually structured or loosely based around information passed down from our own mothers, from parenting books, from blogs or from peers. There is no “right” way to parent – and very few “wrong” ways, unless someone is actively causing hurt to their child. So why, when I don’t ask for advice, am I being told I need to let my baby cry?
Advice is so necessary and so welcome as a new Mum; I have asked friends, family, neighbours and people I barely know about how they found weaning, teething, coped with wind, colic, how to spot allergies… you name it, I’ve probably had a conversation about it and have welcomed hearing everyone’s two pence, taking away what I feel is worth a shot and casting aside what I don’t, or what I have already tried. I have asked friends about their routines and techniques when it comes to sleep and, some, have said they allowed their baby to cry. Fine. Absolutely fine, but I won’t be trying it. But why is that not fine?
Harry has probably taken a little longer than a lot of babies to take to having naps in his cot; he is 8 months old and has just cracked putting himself to sleep in the last couple of weeks. Prior to this we used to rock him to sleep then do the very gentle lowering into the cot, tuck and roll, praying he wouldn’t wake and we would have to start the whole routine again!
Up until he was about 6 months old he had all his naps either on me, following a feed (I watched a lot of TV pinned in position by a snoozing babe) or in his pram. For some reason, this didn’t seem to sit well with a lot of people. “In his pram? All of his naps? You need to leave him to cry. Two or three times and he’ll go off with no issue.” Someone else seemed aghast, “Oh wow you need to sort that out, let him cry it out and he’ll be napping in his cot in no time!” Do I need to sort it out? If I am happy to go for a walk three of four times a day to get my baby to sleep, or to put the pram up in the house and rock him off to sleep, why do I need to let my baby cry.
We all have techniques that work for us, if someone wants to use the Ferber “cry it out” technique then that is absolutely their prerogative as a parent and when they tell me that is what they do, you don’t find me turning to them and saying, “Oh no, you need to rock him to sleep in the pram. Don’t let him cry”, which is why it really grinds on me when the opposite is applied to me and I’m made to feel like I’m doing something wrong by putting him to sleep in his pram.
Now that he puts himself to sleep in his cot, without crying, I feel absolutely vindicated in my decisions, and the immature woman in me feels like sending a giant eff you to the person who told me “he’ll never sleep in his cot, you’re building a rod for you own back” (did she seriously think he’d be having his hangover nap in a pram aged 25?), but of course I won’t. I do wish people would think before they comment and before they judge though; if I absolutely cannot get on board with listening to my baby cry, that should be fine. Hell! surely that is normal? Under no other circumstances would you judge a mother for saying that she wouldn’t listen to her infant cry for 10, 20, 30 minutes, so why, when it comes to sleep, is it wrong that I won’t?
Our decisions as parents do not all need to be the same in order to be validated: some of us will wean using purées, some baby led, some a mixture. Some of us return to work because we have to, others because we want to, and some will stay home. Some of us will go to baby groups and classes, others avoid them like the plague. Some of us will teach our babies how to self settle by allowing them to cry it out, others by controlled crying and some of us, like me, though we may be labelled “smothers”, by a – granted very long – process of slowly introducing them to this new environment, one hug, shush and rock at a time because that’s what works for us. And that is okay.
A Guest Blog from Rosie Phillips
Rosie is 26, a first time mother to Harry, a wife to Jonathan and dog-mama to Nigel the Pug. She lives in South Oxfordshire, where she is currently enjoying maternity leave with Harry and writing her blog, Baby Boys Rock. Here, she has written openly and honestly about her journey into motherhood, from long births to even longer nights. You can follow Rosie on Instagram.