I was talking with a friend recently about how successful sleep training depends on the personality of the baby. Some mothers believe that the right method will convert their child into a great sleeper. My friend told me her grandmother, who raised four kids, knew better. A baby with an adaptable personality will easily bend to her mother’s will.
Well, I knew from the very first day that my little boy would not bend easily. He even fought with the hospital nurses! He would arch his neck backwards whenever they tried to push his head towards me to nurse. Pretty stubborn for a day-old baby. He had to nurse on his own terms, not be pushed around. And the sooner I accepted that, the easier it got.
So what would be the point of pushing a sleep-training method on a kid who will fight me all the way? Chances are it would fail. Worse than that, I think if I really forced him, it would break his spirit. That would just break my heart. If I had a baby who would accept change easily, of course I would persevere. However, I have an energetic and social baby. Getting him to sleep on his own would involve a lot more than “showing him who’s the boss”, a philosophy that the worst sleep books teach new parents.
Instead of forcing, I’m just asking him to meet me half-way. “You like to breastfeed to sleep. Fine. But I’m not a pacifier and you can’t wreck my nipples by suckling instead of nursing.” “You want to be held to sleep. OK. But I’m not going to break my lower back by carrying you around all night. We’re using the rocking chair until you are sleepy enough for the crib.”
And the mother’s personality factors in too. Are you a laid-back hippie-mom? Or do you feel more secure by set schedules? I’m sure most of us are somewhere in the vast spectrum in between. Once you figure out where you stand, and enjoy your baby’s amazing qualities, as the parent, we get to discover how to make a true connection with our child and how to construct our days (and nights) to suit both personalities.