Getting your baby or toddler to sleep is not the easiest part of parenting. This book is about giving you an extra option to try when putting your baby or toddler to bed. I came up with “The Dancing Method” from my own experience of parenting my high-needs babies. I learned about high-needs babies from a very helpful book, (1. Parenting the Fussy Baby by Dr. William Sears) Dr. Sears describes a high-needs baby as “a sensitive, intense, demanding, nurses often, in-arms baby.” That described all three of my kids perfectly and even sounded a little like me! Sleep solutions in parenting books did not fit my needs or personality. I wanted a loving approach that gave me some control over how to get my babies to sleep.
For my husband and me the “Cry It Out” method was not an option. Some experts believe that when a baby’s cry goes unanswered, he will eventually give up on people for comfort, sometimes becoming more attached to an object such as a blanket or pacifier, or even worse, becoming comfortable with a lower standard of living. That information along with my own instincts was all I needed to rule out “Cry It Out.” It was so uncomfortable to think about our children crying themselves to sleep.
To me, a baby is a stranger in a new world. I think everyone should try their best to treat their babies how they would want to be treated as a helpless, dependent person. No one would want their cries for help to be ignored. Many authorities believe that you should check all of the babies’ physical needs: if the diapers are not dirty, if they are dressed appropriately, and if they are not hungry, then let them be. Leave them alone to let them cry it out? I read an analogy in a natural parenting book that said, “Crying is good for the lungs, right? Yeah, just like bleeding is good for the veins!!” To me that analogy just rang of truth. After reading that, I knew I was not alone in my beliefs and instincts. Just meeting your child’s physical needs is not being a whole parent. Your child, no matter how small, has emotional needs equally important to their physical needs. So if your child does not want to be alone, or is scared of the dark at this tender age, how can you not accommodate all his needs? Time flies by and kids grow up even quicker. It is such a short time that your child will need your help to overcome their fears. Doesn’t it seem like children who go to sleep feeling secure and loved will wake up that way? They will be ready to begin a new day feeling right.
My husband and I did try other methods we found in parenting books to put our older son to sleep. Driving him to sleep worked, but it was not practical. Getting him out of the car would sometimes wake him up. The short nap he did have would sometimes be enough to keep him up another two hours. Nursing him to sleep worked. However, sometimes it would take over an hour, or he would have too much energy to just lie there and go to sleep. When babies are less than two months old, nursing them to sleep works easily. They sleep so much for the first month or two, it seems that nursing is all you will have to do. As babies get a little older, however, you discover getting them to sleep is not as easy.
Our last try for getting our older son to fall asleep was just waiting, but that got old quickly! We never knew when it would happen. We were burning out fast. We needed to find a way to enjoy our baby and have some time together. We also needed time for our own interests. None of the methods we tried provided the quick, convenient solution we were looking for. The Dancing Method did not get put into action until my son was around four months old. It was then that we figured out it was going to be our own method that would give us the most control of bedtime and alone time in a loving way for our baby.
It is the popular belief that babies do not remember their infant or toddler days. I do not believe that completely. To me, even if children cannot tell you every detail of their infant or toddler days, it is still a part of who they are and will become. The infancy of your child is such a crucial time for nurturing and creating that parental bond. Whether you work at a job and come home to your child, or if you parent your child all day (which is a full-time job, too), finding a convenient way to end the day is such a necessity. My sincere hope in writing this is that if you are having problems at sleep time, this book will be the solution for you. I also hope that fewer babies will be left to cry themselves to sleep. This sleep method is a more loving, beneficial choice for everyone. I believe my husband’s and my experience can help you enjoy this stage of your life more as it did for our family. In order to decide what advice you will listen to, you must discover what feels right or true for you. When I realized that most parenting is trial and error, I was able to find the perfect sleep solution for us. I am confident that the “Dancing Method” helped to create the start of the deep trust and security my children have in me.
(1. Dr. William Sears, author of the bestselling The Baby Book and Parenting the Fussy Baby)