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Why it’s ok I still hold my toddler to sleep

Why it’s ok I still hold my toddler to sleep

None, I repeat, none of my boys ever learnt to self soothe as a baby or toddler for that. Each night I’d sit with then and often hold them to sleep. And with no.1 & no. 2 it was an issue. A huge, gut wrenching, I’m failing at this parenting lark issue.

It was all me, I’d done it all wrong.  That rod that people talk about. Well, I’d only gone and bought the blady t-shirt, cemented it in iron and left it there for good.

I’d tried the ‘put your baby down drowsy thing,’ yeah, that didn’t work. Lies, all lies, or at least to me. For my babies, putting them down was the absolute worst thing which I could do, so their ear-piercing cries told me. Like I’d laid them on a bed of nails.

How very dare you mother!

They’d say in thief Stewie from Family Guy voices

So guiltily, I picked them up. Guilt from knowing “the books” would scorn at my weakness, guilt that I’d not been strong enough to sit it out, to wait to see if it was just a momentary protest cry, and guilt that by picking them up I was causing deeper, long-term problems. They’d have sleep issues as adults and it would be all my fault.

I blame my parents

They’d tell their psychologists trying to repair the damage I’d caused.

Only it didn’t cause any damage. My cuddles and bedtime love caused no damage at all. 

I can tell you that now. As hindsight, that wonderful, beautiful thing called hindsight. Tells me that what I did was just what my babies needed.
As those babies, those little, cot resisting, Velcro babies are now teenagers who can quite easily sleep through the protest cries of their little, cot protesting Velcro baby brother.

Who each night curls up, in the safe, comforting arms of his cocksure (I know what I’m doing this time) mother and I hold him while he drifts to sleep. Sometimes in my arms, sometimes holding me. But never out of touch or out of reach.

And he let’s me know, my beautiful little boy, that there’s no way on this earth that tonight, or any other for that matter, will he  be drifting off on that 16-year-old bed of nails!



  1. Danielle
    31st July 2016 / 9:15 pm

    What a beautiful post, I agree I’m the exact same with my little boy I never just put him down and leave him I always cuddle him and couldn’t imagine doing it any other way and he’s always been an a amazing sleeper xx

    • 31st July 2016 / 9:22 pm

      I think some babies just aren’t able to drift off on their own and there’s just no point fighting it, it just makes for an unhappy baby and unhappy momma

  2. 1st August 2016 / 7:42 am

    This is so lovely!! I think I’d be the same with a third, having tried all the tricks with the first two, I still often sit by my son’s bed if he’s overtired and can’t drift off. Mostly they don’t need me to though, and that’s now worse! ? Spend years pushing forward to suddenly be desperate to whoosh backwards!

  3. 1st August 2016 / 10:57 am

    I honestly think it’s luck rather than skill! My elder two didnt self settle and Erin was born the opposite. Erin needs her space to sleep and falls easily. Yet she was like that from day one. Chloe was in our bed until 21/2 it is just the way it is. I think we are so ingrained in what we think is right or wrong we are too hard on ourselves as a result. Cuddle away I say!

    • 1st August 2016 / 1:27 pm

      So true Emma, I’ve leant over the years that all babies are different and that you have to do what’s best for the family as well as the baby.

  4. 2nd August 2016 / 1:29 pm

    I so agree with you, I went through the same feelings with my first, feeling bad that I was disobeying the books and then realising that actually I was doing the right thing. Love the photo at the end by the way, it’s gorgeous!x

  5. 2nd August 2016 / 1:47 pm

    Aww, lovely post and pictures 🙂

    They grow up to quickly..

  6. 2nd August 2016 / 8:26 pm

    I refused to let my older three into my bed and never slept with them. I have to say that I don’t cuddle Pickle to sleep – he goes to bed on his own – to my bed. And I sleep with him all night. And we love it. He will be 20 (as my eldest is) soon enough and I am cherishing the night cuddles. Lovely post hun. Kaz x x

    • 2nd August 2016 / 9:02 pm

      thanks Kaz, We co sleep for some of the night and I adore it. Like you said, before you know it they’re hulking great teenagers!

  7. 2nd August 2016 / 9:24 pm

    My third boy is due any day now and I will do the exact same thing, just as I did with the first two. They’re not little for very long are they, and I’m sure that I’ll miss the cuddly days when they’re gone.

  8. 2nd August 2016 / 10:39 pm

    I tend to think kids need what they need, and there’s only what’s right for your family based on your child’s temperament and your own personality. PS – I sometimes still snuggle up to my 10 year old while she falls asleep.

  9. 2nd August 2016 / 10:49 pm

    This is lovely Ali. How comforting hindsight is. The truth is we should all follow our instincts and not worry about the pressure of what the books or other people think.

  10. 3rd August 2016 / 10:18 am

    I am the eldest of 7 children and I can distinctly remember – as a teenager – having to sit with my youngest brother until he went to sleep and it used to drive me mad! When I was on my own with Grace, she always went to sleep in her own bed but she would come in in the morning for cuddles. I think you should do what is best for you as parent as well as for your child.

    • 3rd August 2016 / 1:24 pm

      Absolutely Victoria, some children prefer their own space and others need a little reassurance, it’s all about recognising that even your own children can be different and adjusting to their needs I think.

  11. 8th August 2016 / 11:26 am

    My daughter is a great sleeper and I have never once fooled myself that it was anything I did- just luck of the draw. I’ve always thought- people need to do what they need and who am I to judge. Gorgeous post!

    • 8th August 2016 / 8:57 pm

      Thanks Lindy, I’m hoping its down to personality and have been told girls are generally better than boys!

  12. 10th August 2016 / 9:17 am

    I say whatever works best for you! So much advice and pressure on what to do with our little ones… They are all different #BISS

  13. 6th March 2017 / 9:37 am

    This is a really great article. Thanks for sharing.

    I couldn’t agree more. My wife and I just had twins. Max and Mathilda are their names. They are almost four months old now but were born 10 weeks early. The little beauties should only be a month and a half old now. Max in particular needs bed time cuddles and contact so much. He had ad a collapsed lung in his first week and spent the next month on a breathing machine.

    Not only did he have a rough start but my wife and I had a tough few years. We went from infertility to married and then through three IVF treatments. Now we have these two little miracles. I don’t want them to cry at night and I am more than happy for them to snuggle up to me for as longs as needs be. I know that I am developing an emotionally healthy children and I don’t care what anyone says. It is also a bit selfish because I love the contact with my children more than I though I would.

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