A Baby-Centered Approach to Sleep
Babies need sleep, and heaven knows, their moms and dads do too! Unfortunately, newborns tend to have their own ideas about when and where to catch their z's. Eventually all new parents will have to answer questions like: Crib or family bed? Nurse him (again) or let him cry it out? Will a certain expert's methods work for my baby?
Here are some real experiences from parents who have wrestled with these very issues -- and devised their own solutions, based on their styles, which vary. After all, each baby is unique -- just like her parents. Find out what might work for you.
The Premise of the Baby-Centered Approach
Baby is best off when he's physically close to Mom and knows she's there to meet his needs. Parents who take this course tend to feed the baby on demand (whenever he cries) and co-sleep with him, either in a family bed or in an attachment to their bed. They focus on making the bed a positive, natural place where Mom can quickly offer food or comfort. Experts like William and Martha Sears and groups like La Leche League base their parenting advice on this idea.
All parents more or less start out with a variation of the baby-centered approach, because a brand-new infant needs continuous nourishment (every few hours throughout the day and night). At the 3-month mark, though, most babies are able to last for longer stretches at night (often up to five or six hours) without a feeding. While some parents use techniques to encourage longer stretches of night sleeping, those who favor the baby-centered approach generally prefer to let this happen naturally.