Sharing sleep: An in-depth look

Nighttime Parenting: How to Get Your Baby and Child to Sleep he states that co-sleeping does not encourage dependency. "Children reach the stage of independence when they are ready. It is the parents job to provide a secure environment which allows a child's independence to develop naturally."

Pediatricians indicate that sleep issues are the biggest problem brought to their attention by parents, yet pediatricians get little, if any, training in this area. (They are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses - not in parenting styles.) Many times their advice to parents is to let the baby "cry it out." Yet most mothers do not feel right about this advice and it usually does not work because the mother is unable to follow through with it. A mother's body chemistry changes in response to her child's cries. She experiences a surge of hormones and an increase in blood flow to her breasts which triggers the urge to pick up the baby and nurse. The baby's cry is his protective mechanism to assure that his needs are met. The late Dr. Lee Salk said, "There is no harm in a child crying; the harm is done if his cries are not answered." Dr. Sears states that a mother is not designed to let her own baby cry and the baby is not designed to be left alone crying. He believes that not responding to a baby's cries undermines the infant's trust and instead of teaching the baby to sleep, it teaches him that his cries have no communicative value. He imparts some valuable advice on this subject: "When it comes to mother-infant attachment your instincts should be followed above the advice of anyone else. The other person has no biological attachment to your infant."

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