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As the mother of three and a Lactation Consultant and parent educator, I see these "concerns" in parents all the time. When I tell them their baby's normal behavior is normal, they often still want me to give them a way to "fix" it. One cannot and should not try to "fix" what is normal.
Babies have slept in their mother's arms and at their mother's breasts for millenia and virtually every other society co-sleeps peacefully and safely. Myriad studies have proven that SIDS is reduced when infants co-sleep with parents. The backlash against co-sleeping often occurs in the same breath as those who "couldn't" breastfeed, "can't" wake at night, and "can't" be there for their infants, when their infants need them.
Too many parents want parenting to be convenient. I often tell my teen pre-parenting classes, "If you want convenience, get a cat. There is nothing convenient about a baby." Parenting is hard work and the work of parenting doesn't end when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. (So many of my older clients are so focused on "getting pregnant" that they are gobsmacked when they realize that WASN'T the hardest thing about being a parent.)
Also, some lifestyles will not be able to fit a baby into them. People want babies to be infinitely pliable to their needs, yet don't want to bend an inch for their babies' actual needs.
Infant sleep is designed for the best most optimal outcome for the infant NOT for the "convenience" of "modern" parents.
Babies' bodies don't know some people seem to think "things have changed" and their babies' developing brains can't change to fit because Mom decided to go back to work at 6 weeks post partum. That brain will continue to NEED to sleep lightly with frequent wakes for feeding and face to face stimulation for a long time. It's a necessary part of infant development that too many parents want to "train" out of their children. This is not only impossible, but dangerous.
Parents need to not only understand what REAL, evolutionarily designed, proven infant sleep patterns are, they need to understand that THEIR lives may have to change to adapt to what evolution has already proven. The baby can't change, not without serious issue or damage being done.
Again, babies are a lot of work, and one may need to change one's priorities to raise a healthy infant. If that means more time at home, so be it, if that means working harder than you've ever worked at ANYTHING to succeed at breastfeeding, so be it, if that means... you have to wake up every few hours for a year or two, so be it. It's what mothers have done for hundreds of thousands of years. The infant brain knows what it needs, and parental "convenience" should not even enter the discussion. People used to understand that their lives would change dramatically when an infant entered it. Now too many parents want the flow and convenience of their single, childless life to remain, but just want to add a no-stress, no-work, no-worry baby to it. That simply can't be done. At least without risking serious consequences. (Why is it that so many of those who didn't want to change when their children were infants become "helicopter parents" when their children get older? The bonding that was missed in infancy cannot be made up later.)
This is one of the main reasons I am SO supportive of those who do not want children. They, at least, seem to understand that children WILL change their lives. While many parents DO understand this, and make the necessary changes, too many seem to think having a baby is like buying a new car.. it will just "fit it" with whatever they previously did with no further work on their part.
I'm not sure when these ideas started, but educating parents about normal, healthy infant sleep, the benefits of co-sleeping and the optimal nature of breastfeeding as a biological imperative needs to be taught along with good birth control methods starting as young as middle school years.
Thank you for the article.
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