From Attachment Parented Child to Ferber Mum (Part One)

IMG_5433(Whilst my blog is still majorly small and at the beginning stages of it’s life, I thought I’d take the risk of posting something… controversial. This is Part One of a two-part blog on how and why we decided to “sleep train” our son – if that’s what you want to call it. Please read, please comment, but please be aware that I know this subject causes a lot of judgement. Comments of a bad nature will not be approved. Thanks for reading!)

When my sister and I were little we were always welcome in our parents’ bed. Nightmares, “can’t sleeps”, bedtime cuddles, even Saturday morning breakfast – our parents’ bed was the venue for all of those things.  I don’t know for sure if my Mum would say she followed the rules of Attachment Parenting or even if the term ‘Attachment Parenting’ existed back then, but if she looked it up now I’m pretty sure she’d say that’s what she did. My sister and I were happy. Our childhood is something we look back on fondly and we’re proud to say we have great relationships with our parents now. We wouldn’t change a thing.

So it came as no surprise that when I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy, it was my Mum that I went to for advice on pretty much everything. When my son (who I’ll refer to as N#1) decided he didn’t want to sleep on his back any more my Mum came, placed him on his side (as she had done with me when I was a baby) and looked after him while he slept peacefully, allowing me to get a couple of hours rest too.

I decided to breastfeed for as long as possible, and eventually at four and a half months started to introduce formula due to other health issues that I had. I was proud of my four and a half months and I think (hope) my Mum was too. She never questioned the move to formula; in fact she was on hand to help when N#1 refused the bottle, bringing me latex teats which were apparently the only ones that I would accept as a baby. He eventually got to the point where he took any bottle, latex or otherwise, like a champ.

It was no revelation for my Mum when I admitted that for his early morning feeds I brought N#1 into bed with me and my husband. After all, she’d done the same with us. It was a relief to know that there was some support out there for co-sleeping – the now official term for letting your children sleep in your own bed. Posters and adverts were constantly telling new parents about the risks of co-sleeping and the dangers it might bring about for your child. I worried that people would judge. Instead, I found that most were doing the same thing or had done in the past, it’s just that no one told anyone. We found something that worked for us as a family.

Then one day, it didn’t work anymore. We spent a few weeks noticing N#1’s gradually worsening sleep patterns. He refused to fall asleep unless he was being held, rocked, patted, or a combination of all three. Once asleep we would try to lay him in his cot and he would immediately wake and fuss. So we picked him up again and resumed the rocking and patting until we thought we could attempt the cot-manoeuvre again. This routine could take hours.

And it wasn’t just the beginning of the night either. My husband and I would find ourselves taking shifts in the middle of the night to rock and pat N#1 back to sleep after a feed while the other attempted to get some rest. It was hard and people that we spoke to about it were adamant – that’s just how babies are sometimes. But we were surviving on just a few hours of sleep a night and that set off other problems.

My lack of sleep was causing me to have seizures, a condition which I has suffered with through pregnancy but seemed to disappear after giving birth. So the return of my seizures meant that I didn’t feel comfortable co-sleeping anymore, an arrangement which had often been our 4am fall-back plan. One night, while rocking N#1 at something past three in the morning I had felt a seizure about to come on and had just made it to get him out of my arms and back into his cot before it started. I felt like an unsafe mother. Something had to change.

Thank you for reading Part One! Part Two will be up next Monday as is my schedule (Mum Mondays, Writing Wednesdays, Friday Five). Your comments and constructive criticism (on the blog itself) are welcomed. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @mumwriting.



10 thoughts on “From Attachment Parented Child to Ferber Mum (Part One)

  1. my story is similar to yours …. breastfed twins for 18 months … cosleeping when the babies wanted it or i needed it to get any sleep at all …. and ferbered one kid …. because of his nightmarish sleep patterns that were torturing the other 3 of us! …. you hid it on the head with the line “we found something that worked for us as a family” … and then you change it when it stops working …..the definition of good parenting.


  2. You have me intrigued. I’ll have to come back for part two. I don’t really like labels and I’m guessing your Mum wouldn’t consider herself an “Attachment”. She’s a Mum. When my wife and I got married we moved 3000 miles away from our parents, so our moms weren’t there to give input on how to do things. It was also before Google and smartphones and all those other things. So we never would have heard of Ferber and the only Spock we knew about was the one on Star Trek. We made a decision early on that we wouldn’t bring our children into our bed and we stuck to it. I don’t know how we made it through without all the advice from people who didn’t know us or our kids but we did and our kids grew up to be wonderful adults, two of which who have kids of their own and are great parents. From what I’ve seen so far, you’ve got great parenting instincts. Trust those instincts. I won’t judge you one way or another because as long as you are expressing the love for your child that I see, I’m confident that you will be okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahh you’re doing good! Each kid is different and who you are any given day has to mesh with that too – go with your gut (feels like you already do this really well 😉 ) … have to go look up ferber now – grin.

    Only thought that came to mind for me was my #3 really really liked being swaddled for quite some time – still likes being tucked in on all edges and he’s 8 now. We co-slept with all 3 but he could really be put down anywhere so long as he was warm enough and wrapped up like a cocoon. The other 2 were skin to skin babies so it was trickier getting them out of the bed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think this is a very brave and vulnerable thing to write about. I can imagine your honesty and candor bringing hope to parents, staring a dimly lit screen in the dark early hours of the morning, desperate for some glimpse of hope. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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