CIO and sleep training – the debate continues

When I brought the CIO debate over here from Hathor’s site, I hoped other people would also be willing to come over and continue, but resigned myself to the fact that everyone else would probably have got bored and moved on to the next thing – after all, I’d taken my usual sweet time about actually getting my post up.  However, fortunately, Heather from Tucson has been patient enough to keep checking, and she’s now responded.  Thank you.

I do, as a matter of fact, believe if I have a problem in the middle of
the night that my dear husband should get up and help me deal with it,
just as I do for him. Whether it be a nightmare, cramp, or what not. I
believe that that is what it mean to be married to someone.

I believe that being married to someone means that you take their needs, and their wishes, into account as well as your own; and you find a balance as best as you can.  My husband has a need to sleep, as well as some other things he needs to do during the day (most of which are actually for the ultimate benefit of me and Jamie as well as himself).  Sometimes my needs will take precedence over that and I’ll have to interrupt what he’s doing.  But that doesn’t mean that everything I want, no matter how large or small it is, should take precedence over his needs.

I believe that the same sort of balancing act goes on between parents and children.  I believe that if children need something in the middle of the night – a drink of water, a clean nappy, comfort – they ought to get it.  If it’s just that they want company or want playtime or want someone to rock them because they find it easier to go back to sleep that way, then sometimes Mummy’s and Daddy’s needs are going to be more important than Baby’s wants.

Plus why is it that two adults can sleep together all night long, but a baby gets the boot?

Different families are going to have different answers to that question (for example, if you asked Beanie Baby, presumably she’d answer that this turned out to be the only way that her baby could sleep herself, as well as being the only way that she could get enough sleep to be functional enough during the day to be the responsive, caring mother that her daughter needed).  But it’s actually not a question that relates to CIO, as such.  It’s a question that relates to co-sleeping.

Some people seem to see this as all one debate – CIO vs. co-sleeping, as though those were the only two ways that a parent would ever be dealing with a child’s sleep issues and the question is about which you should choose.  It’s typical of the way that mummy debates get polarised into The Right Way and The Wrong Way.  In actual fact, of course, it’s nothing like that simple – some families do neither CIO nor co-sleeping, some do both at different times or at different stages.  The question of whether or not to co-sleep obviously has some overlap with the question of whether or not to do CIO, but it certainly isn’t just the same question phrased in a different form.

In our case, for example, ‘all night long’ was never the issue.  Whenever Jamie woke up during the night, I took him into bed with us and we both went back to sleep – simple and straightforward.  What this totally failed to solve was the problem of how to manage the evenings before we went to bed.  This was the time of day when Jamie needed to sleep, even though he still wanted to play; when I needed dinner; and when Barry needed some adult company and conversation after a day looking after a toddler.  Eventually, after trying various other ways of dealing with the situation with various degrees of success, we used a version of CIO, and that was what worked beautifully for all of us.  And we went on co-sleeping during the night until Jamie started sleeping through the night several months later.  In fact, since his cot is still in our room a few feet away from our bed, I believe we’re still co-sleeping, if I’m remembering the Official Attachment Parenting Definition correctly.

And you never answered my question reguarding what would you like to be
done to you if you were a helpless adult.

I did, in fact – you just didn’t want to accept my answer.  If somebody had to look after me 24/7, I’d want them to get whatever breaks they needed to recharge and be physically and emotionally able to keep going.  Even if that meant I didn’t always get company when I wanted it, that would still be better, long-term, then being looked after by a carer who was so exhausted and burnt out that he or she had become resentful and just couldn’t be that caring any more. 

The difference, of course, is that I’d be able to recognise how important this was and a baby can’t.  But that doesn’t mean it’s any less important to the baby, as well as the mother.

Would you really want to be
left alone, all night??

I doubt if I’d notice – after all, I’m usually asleep.  I suppose it’s possible that I might have insomnia one night and want company, but I wouldn’t expect someone to wake up purely for that reason.  But as for going to sleep at the beginning of the night, I usually do prefer being alone for that.  It’s a time when I like to get a bit of space and think my own thoughts.  Having someone else there trying to put me to sleep would probably just keep me awake.  I can understand why the same seems to be true for at least some babies, and why, for those babies (not for all babies), sleep training actually seems to work better than the ‘gentle’ methods.

1 Comment

Filed under Don't let the bedbugs bite, Sacred hamburger

One response to “CIO and sleep training – the debate continues

  1. Molly is 32 months old. She has slept in her own room since about 8 weeks old. She made so much noise in her crib at night we couldn’t sleep and we think us moving under the duvet kept her awake. She’s slept through the night since 8 weeks and has done 7pm-7am pretty much all the time since. That’s just the way it worked for us.
    I am struck though that when we share a room, when visiting friends or staying in a hotel room just how much we disturb each other. She is restless and moans a lot in her sleep and wakes earlier.
    I am much of the opinion that people do what they do to keep sane. Stress just seems so much worse at night when a child is awake and your energy souce is drained to a minimum. As I said before, without co-sleeping, my friend whose husband left her, would have gone insane from sleep deprivation.

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