One mother said she had a routine for her child to go down at the exact same time every day. She gave her a bath and placed her in the crib and left the room. She had the same routine at night too and it worked effortlessly. (No word what her newborn's delicate skin had to say about two baths a day.) You don't snuggle with your baby? Hold her? Sing to her? Rock her? we asked? "No," she said very firmly, "you never rock a baby."
Whoa! You never rock a baby? She said it with such certainty and in a way that implied we were crazy for thinking otherwise. As I walked home with little Monkey I wondered if I should try that technique. If I stopped holding him or rocking him, would he sleep better? More easily? In general, I believed you can't spoil a baby under six-months-old, but maybe I was being naive! Weak! Selfish even!
But then I looked at my tiny little Monkey (okay, he wasn't tiny, he was really chunky, but you get the idea) and thought, "No way." No way can I stop holding him, cuddling him or singing him to sleep. Nor would I ever stop any of his grandparents, his dad or his various aunts and uncles from rocking him. No, my son could not fall asleep immediately when placed in the crib, but he was only going to be this small for such a short short period of time and I wanted to enjoy him as much as possible. No one looks back in time and says, "I wish I'd held my child less." Rocking a baby to sleep is an honor. When a little being trusts you and lays in your arm and he drifts into sleep, it makes you, the adult, feel special and safe. As a mother, I want my children to feel special and safe in my arms.
I didn't rock Monkey to sleep every night or every nap, but I held him or nursed him to sleep those early months, I patted his belly or smoothed his hair. Sometimes I just lay my head next to his as he fell asleep. Eventually he learned to sleep on his own and I let him settle himself down many nights, but I still haven't stopped rocking Monkey. He sits on my lap and we sit on a rocking chair and talk. Sometimes he and Munchkin both crowd onto my lap for a snuggle and a story and that is fine with me. Next time someone says, "You never rock a baby" with such seriousness, I'll say, "Yes. Yes I do."