My wife and I might have reached our first parenting dilemma last night.
See, we’re both more than ready for our baby to sleep through the night. The kid is in the awful habit of waking up at least twice a night and needing to be fed. It’s not like she’s starving — you should see her thighs, the Michelin Man is jealous! — but she is used to receiving a few ounces at a time when only meth-heads are awake.
Well, meth-heads and us.
Chatting with people who have young kids, there seems to be a consensus of just allowing your child to “cry it out.” Which sounds easy, but truly the more you think about it, is kind of unsympathetic. This little baby, who depends on you to basically keep it alive, is crying out for attention and you’re trained, as a parent, to attend to its needs. Then, all of a sudden, you have to listen to hours of crying in the hopes of getting more sleep.
The idea behind this is to teach the baby that it’s OK not to depend on something in the middle of the night. It’s like running the opposite of a methadone clinic. Reverse rehab, so to speak.
I am all for this. I think a little tough love will go a long way. I am also going to be the dad who won’t let my daughter bask in a participation ribbon. There’s winners and there’s losers. It’s better to understand this so you’ll be better at life.
I’m also for this “sleep training” because I love sleep. It probably ranks third on my list of things that I love behind food and beer. Speaking of beer, the quicker my daughter can sleep through the night, the better I’ll feel about pouring that extra cocktail on the weekends. I mean, you don’t want to be half-sloshed when trying to feed your kid at 2 a.m. Or feeling the effects of beer number four at 5 a.m. You’ve got to be a responsible adult and cork that bottle of wine or keep your liquor cabinet fully stocked. I hate being a responsible adult.
My wife, on the other hand, says that she probably won’t be able to let our kid cry it out. Deep down I know she wants to, but her mother’s intuition of listening to her baby cry will probably break her spirit. And this is worse for the kid. Once you give in, they know they got you by the short and curlies.
So, Suzanne started reading things online. When is the best time to cry it out? How old should your kid be before they fully sleep through the night? Is it harmful for the baby?
Too bad a kid isn’t like an appliance with an exact operating manual. The more people you talk to, the more different the opinions and options are. Dammit. At least with a Kenmore you can say “It’s the fetzer valve.”
Here’s something that you should never do: read a baby discussion forum. It seems to be rife of Stepford Wives pontificating about the most asinine shit and then drawing lines in the sand of either This is the absolute correct way to do it or You’re a moron, why would you do that to your kid? And by Stepford Wives, I mean it’s a bunch of educationally-challenged women with nothing better to do than commiserate with each other through their computers. It’s like the wives of Mad Men but in the Internet age.
A lot of the garbage these people were throwing out revolved around the idea of “You’re neglecting your baby and its needs.” Umm, hello? Did you not just hear about how I am cutting myself off? This is a big deal, people!
First off, these message board freaks’ line of thinking is a load of manure from people who fully believe in the idea of celebrating eighth place. Feelings are important. But so is sleep.
Second, because a baby is not an appliance, there is no perfect solution to the problems. From my “research” — i.e. talking to real humans and not lonely moms with nothing better to do than post to a message board — a baby is ready to sleep through the night anywhere from four months to a year. Yet, it seems that crying it out does work.
If we do decide to let our kid cry it out, I might have to go all 50 Shades of Grey and tie my wife up so she won’t find a reason to go check on her. However, if I go all 50 Shades, we might be in this predicament again in nine months.