Before Amelia was born I knew I wasn't going to sleep train her or put her on any sort of schedule. Now I know some people swear that this is the only way to raise a child, but I beg to differ. Mark and I both had incredibly busy schedules when Amelia was born. I was working full time and Mark was going to school 6 days a week and working on top of that. Since I got home from work at 6 the idea of putting Amelia to sleep an hour or two after just wasn't something I wanted to do. Those hours were the only time during the week I really got to play with her, snuggle her, read to her and make memories with her. I put her to sleep around the time that I would go to bed. I didn't put her to bed in a completely dark and quiet room and because of this she can still go to sleep, and stay asleep, when it is quiet or noisy and when the sun comes up early during those summer months (which is awesome for camping). This also made it incredibly easy for her to nap anywhere during the day, and I think naps are incredibly important for kids. Amelia didn't stop taking naps until she was 4, and even now she takes one if she is tired during the day. I think it is important that a child sleeps when they are tired, even if it goes against their schedule. I've read a lot of articles on the benefits of sleep training and how children should be put on strict sleep schedules... I just never saw the benefit of forcing a screaming child to stay in their crib because it wasn't their scheduled time to wake up. In my opinion, babies don't need to be "trained".
|New parents are always told "sleep when the baby sleeps". Instead I watched her sleep or snuggled her. They're only little once. Cherish every moment, even if you're sleep deprived.|
I nursed Amelia until she was 18 months. I would wake up with her a couple of times each night to feed her. If she slept through those feedings, I would wake up to pump instead (gotta keep the milk supply up... even if it makes for a tired Mama). Amelia often slept with us. It really made those 2am feedings easier on a nursing Mama. We always made sure to take every precaution when she slept in our bed to ensure her safety. I have the fondest memories dozing off while her tiny little hand wrapped around one of my fingers.
I love the flexibility we have with Amelia. If we want to hang out at my sister's house until 11pm, we can and Amelia is fine. She's not cranky if we wake her up early, she can take a nap in the evening and then sleep through the night and we still get to enjoy the things in life that happen after 7pm without her throwing some sort of tantrum due to exhaustion.
Amelia will start school in the Fall and I plan on using the summer to slowly get her on a schedule (after our trip). I definitely feel it is important when children are in school that a routine is established and that they are getting enough sleep. Right now Amelia usually goes to bed when I do and wakes up between 9:30 and 10:30 in the morning. Occasionally she will wake up when I do (6-6:30am) and on those days she takes a late afternoon nap.
We plan on eventually having more children, and when we do they won't be put on strict schedules either until they get ready to start school. I'm sure they will also end up in bed with us, just as Amelia did. I know I'm breaking every parenting book rule, but i don't parent from books... I parent from instinct and have always felt much better about our decisions.
|A middle of the night photo of my girl and I after nursing her.|
|A little girl sleeping with curlers in is the CUTEST!|
|Tinkerbell taking an early evening nap after playing hard all day|
|A little post rodeo nap|