It basically highlighted how pressured new moms feel from other parents to get their babies to “sleep through the night”. The article also dove into other pieces of “well intended” advice to new moms such as, “don’t spoil your baby by holding them too much,” “don’t let them nurse to sleep otherwise they won’t be able to sleep on their own,” or “just let them cry it out a bit so they know how to self-soothe.”
Can I just say how much this bothers me? No offense as I know these people who like to give advice are only doing it to well, be helpful and give advice. But I also agree with the article’s viewpoint in that young babies need their mothers and at that age they aren’t really meant to sleep through the night or be away from their mother for too long. They are hardwired to need their mothers because to them it is a matter of survival. A mother is their primary source of food, comfort, and security so of course they are going to want to be as close as possible to her at all times.
I mean did you know that in the first few months of life, a baby cannot distinguish the difference between themselves and their mother. They truly believe that they are one in the same, just as in the womb. So imagine how it feels for the baby if their mother constantly put them down or separated themselves from them for a while. The baby would obviously freak out, feel scared because they are suddenly unprotected. They would start to protest by crying because their source of comfort is too far away. And then we wonder why is the baby crying so much or why are they waking up multiple times throughout the night? Well. Because they are not developmentally ready to be so far away from their mother yet.
I am a STRONG believer in attachment parenting. I do not think it is spoiling a child AT ALL. Instead, I feel like it is only setting them up to have a strong sense of security. Imagine what message it gives to a young child when we constantly put them down to allow them to try to self soothe when they are not truly ready? We are basically telling the child “I’m not there for you. You’re on your own.” And to a child that young, that can be psychologically devastating!
That child, after repetitive exposure to being left alone to self soothe, will eventually learn to self soothe but also learn that they cannot depend on their caregivers, which will ultimately cause anxious or avoidant attachments in the future. Any adult that has issues with anxious or avoidant attachment styles knows how devastating this is and troublesome when forming relationships with others. It’s just unhealthy, so why not set our children up for a healthy future?
From what I’ve researched on my own, this idea of allowing a baby to self soothe that young or letting them cry it out in their crib at night was only a very recent trend of parenting. In other parts of the world it is completely normal to cosleep or bedshare with a child even past six months of age. It is also normal to breastfeed on demand past six months. Babywearing is also VERY normal. In other words, it is EXTREMELY normal to be very attached to your child as it is healthy for the child’s psychological development.
So why has it become a trend to give advice to new mother’s to stop holding their babies so much or to let them self soothe at night so they, themselves, can get some sleep? Why do we make new mothers feel like they are failing at motherhood because they are not teaching their children an important life skill?
Is it because of selfish reasons? Is it because we truly believe we are doing developmental HARM to our children by being so attached? Is it because we feel that they won’t ever learn to be independent?
I don’t know. But what I DO know is that my mama instinct does not want to follow that advice.
My mama instinct tells me that the right thing to do is to make my child feel secure as often as possible. Whether that be waking up multiple times in the middle of the night to allow her to feed as I sleep next to her or whether that be picking her up when she cries right away and helping her feel better by comforting her and telling her that I’m here, either way, I am here for my child anytime, anywhere. I don’t think it’s spoiling her. I don’t think it’s teacher her to be dependent. If anything, I think by feeling secure she will eventually become independent on her own because she feels secure enough to know that I am always going to be there so there is no need to feel anxious or afraid (which by the way, is most likely the fuel to why many kids are anxious in the first place!)
So Mama, if you are feeling pressured right now that your baby is not sleeping through the night or is constantly wanting your attention, I’m here to tell you not to worry.
Here’s some truth for you: They will sleep through the night when they are ready. And they will gain independence when they are ready.
And if you are honestly one of those people who are upset about the fact that you have to wake up or tend to your child multiple times, then I’m not sure if parenting is your strong suit? OK, maybe that is a little harsh. But I just don’t understand why you would feel upset that your child needs you.
Your little needs you. That is why they are waking up or crying. It is not because they are trying to manipulate you or play mind games. It is because they have a need, (for example: being hungry or scared or just needing comfort) and they are asking for attention so that you will recognize that there is something they need It is their only way of communication. Don’t get mad at them for it. Love them. Comfort them. Ask them what they need (if they are old enough to communicate verbally.)
Remember to have patience because they are only little once and they are quite impressionable at that age. Don’t you want them to remember how mama was there for them always?
I know it’s hard though. I know when you are literally at the end of your rope and all you want is a minute to yourself or a minute to rest and the last thing on your mind is to have patience or to give more when you feel like you have nothing more to give. But you just have to stop and take a breath. Remember how this is your child. You chose to bring them into the world, not the other way around. They need you. Give them what they need. The extra cuddle. The extra milk. The extra attention. They will appreciate it so much even if they don’t show it right away.
And you will begin to notice over time what a difference it makes in their lives.
I know personally I have dealt with many people who simply don’t understand my stand on attachment parenting. They think that I am spoiling my child by holding her too often or by not allowing her to sleep in her own crib (and yes, it is completely safe if you follow the safe way of doing it.) But I just say thank you for the advice and keep on going. Because that is what being a mama is all about. It is knowing what is best for your child and following your instinct because God definitely fine-tuned those instincts inside each and every mother.
And mama, you are doing enough. Let me tell you that first hand because we aren’t told this enough. Don’t feel guilty or like a failure. As long as you are loving your child and taking care of their needs, you are doing enough, and really that is all that should matter to both you and your child.
What are you views on attachment parenting? Do you think we put too much pressure on new mothers to get their babies to sleep through the night or learn how to self soothe?
Let me know in the comments! I’d love to have a discussion.
xx Mama with Grace xx
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