OK. I'm back. Sorry for that unexpected LONG break. Please feel free again to email me if you have questions. I'll be responding relatively quickly now that I'm back to work full time and "normal" life has resumed. For those of you who have emailed in the last month, expect a response (either publicly posted or direct) in the next week or two at most.
Reading over a batch of emails over the last couple of months or so, I realized that there might be a misconception out there about where I'm coming from in terms of the NEED to sleep train. Or the responsibility… or something like that. In particular, I've received several emails, some a tad more "harsh" than others, with this basic gist: "I love my baby. I love our bedtime ritual. Babies are helpless. I want to be totally responsive to my baby's needs. All this sleep training is ridiculous. What's wrong with wanting to [rock/swing/sing/etc.] my child to sleep?"
There is NOTHING wrong with rocking or nursing or soothing your baby to sleep. As many parents will attest (and I put myself firmly in this camp) the bedtime rituals of putting young babies to sleep can be the most treasured, most magical times in the early months of child-rearing. Personal confession here: It took me a hell of a long time to get pregnant. After deep heart-ache and years of trying to have a baby, when I finally got two, (TWO!) you better believe I was going to live out the long-rehearsed daydreams of rocking, singing, nursing and shushing my babies to sleep. There really is nothing like looking down at your peacefully sleeping infant (the one that you and only you know how to bounce just the right way, at just the right pace, with just enough swing and jitter and sway), feeling his breath against your arm, his warmth seep into your own body. Marc and I have both had the pleasure of falling asleep ourselves with one of our boys tucked into our necks. It’s heaven. I am in no way suggesting that these rituals aren’t precious or worth keeping in those early months or even years. However, many parents eventually can’t take the sleep-deprivation that usually goes along with extended periods of this sort of sleeping arrangement. As a result, they resort to some sleep-training procedure. So, my basic take is this: enjoy the rocking, singing, and nursing that helps get your baby to sleep. Enjoy it for as long as it feels right for you and your family. And then, if or when it’s not working for you anymore, either because you’re cross-eyed with fatigue, or your baby-awe has tipped into resentment, or because your child has decided he’d rather play trampoline on mommy than be rocked back to sleep, it’s time for a change. Do what feels right for you and your baby for as long as it DOES feel right and don't worry about creating "bad habits" that can NEVER. OMG. EVER. BE. CHANGED. Babies and toddlers are malleable little beings and they can learn and un-learn habits with reasonable ease, especially during the right developmental window.