I must’ve asked every mom friend I had how long they kept their baby in his/her bassinet while I was pregnant. I know, I know, the room-sharing recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics is six months to a year, but dang, that seemed like an excessive amount of time to have an infant in your room, waking you up randomly, serving as an earlier-than-you-planned alarm clock, and preventing, um, consummation.
By the time I was in my third trimester, I had decided that our baby girl was not going to run the show like that. Not from our bedroom. Not for more than a few of those early weeks.
One of the books I read while growing Baby Edie was Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman, a book that encourages parents to listen for their baby’s crying whilst putting them to bed to assess if there’s a real need for soothing or if the little one can settle themselves. French parents, Druckerman describes, begin what they refer to as employing the “le pause” technique as early as two months old. And most babies in France are fully “doing their nights” (the French equivalent of sleeping through the night in their crib) by six months of age.
While Edie was in utero, I was completely enchanted by this methodology. Of course, the French would figure out a way to preserve their sense of self and sanity even while contending with the demands of a newborn. After all, they knew how to maintain their cool. French women always seem to make everything look effortlessly chic—even sleep training. So, I concluded, we would give it a max of two months with Edie in her bassinet, bedside next to me, and then I would happily move her into her crib. From there, I would employ “le pause,” listening for her crying to see if there was a break in the infant manifestation of expression or if it continued ceaselessly. If there was no pause—if the crying never broke—I’d know she needed something specific and would oblige.
Two months of bassinet sleeping, then she’d begin her journey toward independence (and I would return to some semblance of after-hours adult normalcy).
As is the case for many, many things to do with actually having a baby, theory versus practice has proven a different scenario entirely. I could have never in a million years had my Edie sleeping in her own room at two months old, because a small, unforeseen thing happened that I wasn’t prepared for. You see, Druckerman’s book did not describe how I would fall in love with the sound of my baby’s breathing from her bedside bassinet. The French wisdom of sleep training did not account for the number of times I would wake up—completely unprovoked—and stare at my baby for minutes and even hours as she lay there facing me with her tiny nose pressed against the mesh of the bassinet walls.
I never read a single line about how heart-achingly charming her coos and baby turkey squawks would be around 7:00 a.m. each day, or how those precious sounds would become my preferred alarm. I didn’t know how the word “precious” had never had any real meaning to me until this baby—my baby—joined our world. And there was certainly no mention that there would come a day when Baby Edie would begin to silently wake in the sunrise hours of the morning and reach her little hand to the top of the bassinet. As a mom, how do you not hold that tiny hand and become instantly mesmerized by the shape of her fingers? An extra moment of sleep be damned!
We’ve been fortunate that we have a child who has been a fairly easy sleeper. She’s a champion at waking and then putting herself back to sleep. In fact, she’s been sleeping through the night since she was about five weeks old. But now our sweet baby’s genetics have come into play, and she’s growing too long for her bassinet. At nearly four months old, she only has about a baby foot’s worth of room left before she is fully pressed from end to end of her bassinet. Her dad has been commenting on this for a couple of weeks now.
“Babe, she’s getting really long. Do you think it’s about time we get her in her crib at night?”
“But, but—the crib is in her room!” I’ve responded, stating the obvious.
“We can do whatever you want, but I just want her to be comfy,” he says.
He’s right. She’s running out of room in that bassinet. It’s nearly time for me to start putting her in her crib at night. She naps there in the daytime, so I’m hopeful it won’t be a difficult transition.
Me on the other hand? I am gonna cry like a baby—likely without le pause.