Ooey, Gooey, Warm Little You
Snuggle time. It's literally my favorite part of the day. It just makes sense. It's that time, after Baby's nap where he's awake but not yet ready to venture into the rest of the day. I pull him out of his crib (now a big boy bed!), pull him onto my lap in the rocker, and together we just exist. He lays against me and when he's ready to start being active, we sing a couple songs. Sometimes it lasts 25 minutes and we just doze together dreamily. Sometimes it last 5 minutes and he's ready to get songs sung and get moving. Either way, it's our time, together and undisturbed and simply wonderful. Then he slides off my lap, puts his lovies in his bed, and runs out the door.
Baby, who's now a fully functioning 3 year old, and I have been doing Snuggle Time since he was born. I started this practice to discourage falling asleep in my arms, leaving me vulnerable to the all too real "Baby in arm, phone dying, arm dying, full bladder, now I'M crying" syndrome. I get it. Babies are delicious to hold. They are warm and cuddly and have a scent that smells like a mix of warm bread and fresh heaven. All this usually leads to very unhappy caregivers who wish they could get a little bit of free time while kids are sleeping but can't because said kids don't want to sleep anywhere but in their arms.
To encourage a good nap and still get both free time and that all amazing together time, I started Snuggle Time. Which happens AFTER a good nap. Baby loves it. He loves dozing on me. He loves singing in my arms. And despite being over thirty pounds and half my size, he still adores being held. I've done Snuggle Time with several of my nanny kids but it works best when it's consistent and starts young. The AFTER part of the instructions is incredibly important and here's why - it's my firm belief after all this time as a caregiver, that no favors are being given to either child or caregiver if you rock a kid to sleep. In fact - SHOCKER! - I absolutely despise rocking a kid to sleep, especially a child that is, well, a child And I've known many parents who would agree! Holding a 9LB baby in your arms and swaying is WAY different than holding a 25LB 2 year old in your arms, back breaking, arms dying, resentment growing. I knew a family who rocked their child well into the kid's second year of life. Talk about a horrible experience. The child would scream and cry until he was rocked asleep and the parents were on the verge of meltdown from physically and emotionally having to deal with this every single night. Not to mention that unless your child is a heavily sleeper, physically maneuvering the arms-to-crib move is next step ninja level. Heaven forbid you don't lay that child down with the grace of an angel, lest they be jostled, wake up, and the whole cycle must begin again. In my experience, the worst sleepers are the ones that get rocked to sleep. It seems dreamy in the beginning but it soon becomes a nightmare.
My opinion is that rocking to sleep doesn't promote healthy sleeping habits and it certainly doesn't help your child formulate good coping skills. Snuggle Time AFTER sleeping is a great compromise. Somewhere cozy after nap or in bed in the morning (after a good nights sleep!) all promote a reward for taking a good nap - for baby AND you!
What are your thoughts? Do you rock your kids to sleep? If so, how was the transition to them getting to sleep on their own?