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  Parenting Advice Column
  Subject: Mom denounces "cry to sleep" approach

Question:

Dear Jan, although my son is only 8 weeks old (and has shared our bed since his birth) my husband and I are already debating how we will handle putting him to sleep in the coming months and years - prompted by witnessing horrible bedtime scenes at our siblings' homes with their kids. They are of the belief that the child must "cry themselves to sleep" and that this will teach them how to fall asleep alone. I say this traumatizes the child and I have no intention of subjecting my child to this at any age. Comments?

Name Withheld


Jan's Reply:

It does my heart good to hear from loving, sensible parents like you. Yes, it is strange that so many people believe that children should sleep alone, cry it out, etc. when these practices are only about 100 years old. For hundreds of thousands of years, children slept next to their parents and siblings, their cries received a quick response, and they were held all day until they could crawl.

Have you discovered the La Leche League? They are an excellent source for both information and support; they have a superb series of four meetings (which you can attend more than once each). They were an absolute godsend to me when my son was your son's age; I can't recommend them highly enough. I found much encouragement for co-sleeping and other aspects of attachment parenting at the meetings I attended.

There are also several excellent books on co-sleeping. The one that we found most helpful was The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin. Any arguments your relatives and friends may raise are more than adequately answered in that book. Three in a Bed is a fascinating and well-researched book by Deborah Jackson. Two other wonderful books are The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff and The Magical Child by Joseph Pearce.

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