Letter: Mothers hit back

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Roger Dobson's article, "How to turn nightmares into sleeping beauties" (29 September) infuriated me with its half-baked "medical" theories such as "Night waking and settling problems are the seeds of potential long-term behavioural problems in the child" and "Sleep is a learnt behaviour and many parents fail to teach it properly."

These are the same old tired theories that have been put forward for twenty years. Many parents, myself and my partner included, have moved on from this quasi-Victorian attitude, which hardly credits the baby with having more intelligence than an animal, to another level altogether.

Rather than training our babies to sleep, we tried to respond to the deepest human needs, which babies bring forth within us if we are lucky enough to be parents. As a mother of three, the eldest of whom is now 17, I certainly "failed" to teach my children to sleep when they were babies. I fed them all on demand and each baby slept between us in our big family bed until they were ready to move on to their own beds around about the age of four.

Nights were broken, but strangely enough this was not the signal of long- term behavioural problems - in fact quite the reverse. The needy babies have developed into interesting and kind young men who are both independent and affectionate.

If you have children, you have to be prepared to put in night duty for the first few years in order to reap huge benefits later.

JEHANE MARKHAM

London NW5

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