Parent Thoughts: Bed Training


Generally, I don't write a lot about parenting here. There are a few reasons for this. On one hand, I'm aware of the panoply of "writing about parenting" places that exist. On the other hand, generally consider what I do as a parent to be anything special, or all that "write-worthy." This may, in fact, be the first post I've ever written that comes close to a post about parenting.

I'm comfortable with who I am as the parent of a 21-month-old. I think I do a pretty solid job, and I think that my wife does an amazing one. I consider myself to be a pretty typical "modern" parent, in that I don't really give any thought to any of the more reactionary parenting styles that may have been common in the past. For a first-time parent, I'm doing good, in that I am doing my best. By all measures, Connor has been an "easy baby". His health is generally excellent, and he is the definition of developmentally appropriate. We haven't really had to struggle with too much in terms of his behavior, and he has seemed to sync up with us as naturally as can be expected from a new person. The whole endeavor has been an exercise in good fortune.

Considering it all, I can really only point to two items where what we have done with Connor are different from recommendations to the point that some parents would consider them to be "wrong": We have let him utilize screens for entertainment for the past year or so, and he has co-slept with us in our bed since birth. To my own way of thinking only one of them, the screen time issue, is not defensible. I agree that in a perfect world it would have probably been better to keep him away from televisions, iPads, and iPhones (he has his own, SIM card-free and Otterboxed). But the world is not perfect, and neither I nor my wife have the requisite free time or stamina to occupy a toddler without a digital assist. I will note that I haven't seen any sort of developmental issue with the practice, but I do understand that it is contrary to what most "authorities" suggest.

The co-sleeping thing is a different issue. I understand that co-sleeping with one's infant is not something that is recommended, but it has been my experience that it was totally harmless. In fact, it was outright helpful, as Connor has been an 8-hour sleeper essentially since he was born, and I think a good part of that was due to sleeping next to his initial food source. Obviously, there was also a good deal of mental relief for us, given our special circumstances, and the effort that we had to go through to get Connor into our lives. But we've let it go on for a long while now, and this past week was chosen to be the moment that we chose to make the bed transition. I anticipated this would be a nightmare. I was wrong.

We moved Connor into his bedroom, and moved my office out of it. We had anticipated a gradual adjustment to the new circumstances, but he jumped right in. The first night he could, he slept in his new room for 6 hours. The next night another 6. Then 8. As it currently stands, it has been long enough that I am comfortable writing about it.

I don't know how we dodged this particular bullet, but I do think that part of it has to do with the fact that we didn't make a big deal out of it. We were perfectly willing to have him take as much time as he needed to make the transition (admittedly an easy thing for me to say given how the situation played out). The other major factor that I think was hugely helpful was that we didn't move his crib into the bedroom, we converted it into a bed. This was a brilliant stroke of inspiration from my wife, who figured that Connor would be much happier moving from a bed to another bed, instead of back to a prison-like crib. She was absolutely right. He loves his new bed.

So, two lessons. Prepare to go with the flow, and try to give the kid what he/she wants. Not exactly rocket science. There is one other possible reason for why the transition has been so easy for us. The dude might just have been ready to do it. And who can blame him. At 30+ pounds, and almost 3 feet, he is a substantial presence at this point. If I were him, I'd want my own space too. Particularly if that space lets him sleep away from his dad. I mean, that old man snores like a hurricane.