Imagine you’re sleeping; you’re warm and cozy under a few soft blankets, dreaming of wonderful things and then all of a sudden you hear your husband vacuuming outside your bedroom door. You jump up, open the door and tell him, “I was sleeping!” To which he replies, “I know, that’s why I’m vacuuming.” You, perplexed, ask him why he simply couldn’t wait till later. He responds by saying that you need to learn to sleep through noise. A bit crazy, isn’t it? So why do we do this to our babies?
I read a lot about how you have to essentially train your baby to sleep through noise so that they don’t get used to sleeping in silence. My first thought was to myself because I don’t know about you but I personally like to sleep in silence. I turn off my radio, close my computer screen and jump under my duvet to enjoy a nice nap, why shouldn’t my baby enjoy the same?
Life is busy and life is noisy so of course, live life while your baby is asleep, my concern was over the intentional noise we make because they’re asleep.
After converting a lot of the information I got regarding babies into an adult context I realized it was a little absurd and even a bit unkind. This could be because it’s not meant to be seen in that context or it could be because it is in fact absurd and unkind.
One piece of advice that sticks out for me is, when a nursing baby falls asleep, instead of just gently laying her in her crib, first wake her and then lay her down because this will teach her how to fall asleep on her own. Now again, imagine you fell asleep on the couch watching TV and then your husband came and shook you awake only to say, “Now go to sleep.” You’d probably exclaim, “I already was!!” So when we do this and our baby cries (perhaps communicating the same thing) we think, gawd, why can’t she just fall asleep on her own?!
I feel like the ends are noble. Yes it’s important for your baby to be able to sleep through some noise so when you are laughing with company or making dinner it won’t startle her awake. And yes, it’s important for your baby to learn how to sleep by herself. It’s not the ends I question—it’s the means we use to get there. This notion of ‘spoiling’ our babies always puzzled me. I agree that too many toys and too many sweets and too many yes’s can create an entitled child but too much love and too much tenderness creating a spoiled child? Well I’m ready to challenge that notion and speak about it at the finish line. Because I wonder if the only thing we’re really spoiling by creating all these rules is love itself.
Lena Hassan lives in Ottowa, Canada. She is mother to one little girl.