Thursday, November 23, 2006

Self-soothing solitary sleep

Sounds cold and lonely doesn't it?

What do you like to do to before you sleep? Apart from the obvious...which for new parents may not even top the the weather gets colder, maybe you like to have a cup of something warm and soothing, a chat and a cuddle with your partner, a bit of a read, maybe even a massage...that sounds like a nice way to ease ourselves into the world of sleep, doesn't it? And it feels good!

Why then do we want our little babies to learn to sleep alone and without human contact from a young age, when we all know how nice the alternative feels? Is it fear that keeps us from being warm, loving and gentle with our babies as they transition to sleep, just as we are with our partners? Is it so important to "teach" our babies self-soothing solitary sleep, when as adults they most likely will not be interested in sleeping like that all?

Breastfeeding, rocking, patting, cuddling, stories, massage...these are the things babies love to do to help make that transition into sleep. Even your dog is happy when he gets stroked and cuddled. What are we really doing to our own human babies with sleep schools, sleep management programs, controlled crying and strict schedules, avoiding eye contact, avoiding human contact, ignoring cries and imposing arbitrary sleep times and expectations?

PS. "Self-soothing solitary-sleeping babies" is a phrase which appears in Pinky McKay's new book, Sleeping like a Baby She is not an advocate of the practice!