Jennie Garth blogs about her big parenting 'no-no'

04/28/2008 at 07:43 PM ET

Jenniegarth In a series of recent blog entries for ParentsConnect.com, actress Jennie Garth shares several of her parenting secrets — for everything from a healthier recipe for waffles, to her bedtime ritual for daughters Luca Bella, 10 ½, Lola Ray, 5 and Fiona Eve, 18-months.  Of the latter, Jennie freely admits that her habit of laying down with the girls until they fall asleep is considered "a big no-no" by doctors, but the 36-year-old former Dancing With the Stars contestant says she has no plans of stopping the practice anytime soon. 

I refuse to give it up. My kids are so busy all day long with school and sports and after-school activities that I need that downtime with them. That quiet, intimate time is the best! I’m able to focus on each one of them, and I love it. It’s my favorite part of the day.  Kids grow up so quickly. The next thing you know they’re in high school and you’re the last person they want to be lying next to before they go to sleep. I want to cherish this special time and make the most of it.

Jennie also shared that she and husband Peter Facinelli "tried the whole ‘cry it out’ thing" and "it just didn’t feel right."   

So I decided to take this approach and it works for us.  And as far as I can tell, my girls haven’t suffered for it. They’re respectful and independent. They’re not afraid to try new things or do things by themselves. So whatever we’re doing seems to be working great!

For more of Jennie’s blog entries click ‘continue reading.’ 

Like most kids, Luca, Lola and Fiona like to eat waffles "every single day," Jennie says.  But instead of buying the frozen variety, Jennie makes her own — so that she can add ingredients to make the girls’ breakfast-of-choice more nutritious.

On Monday mornings, I make a hugebatch of batter (from a regular old mix), and then add some wheat germ and pureed yellow squash. I put them in the iron, serve them hot and freeze the rest of the batter for every other day of the week.

Jennie also blogged about the different approaches she’s taken to family cooking as her family has expanded.  Like many first-time parents, Jennie admits that she often prepared two meals — one for Luca, and one for she and Peter.  With the arrival of Lola, that practice came to an end.

I decided that I would make one meal for the whole family. At times I’m tempted to make something else for the kids if they don’t like what I’m serving, but so far I’ve stayed strong. I only make one meal a night that all five of us eat, and it’s great!

ParentsConnect.com is a website that provides parenting advice for teens, toddlers and families.

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Christine on

I love her as a Mom and always enjoy reading about her and her family.
She’s down to earth and I can really relate to her! (I lay with each of my 3 kids at the end of the day as well)

Jess on

I really like her. She seems like such a level-headed mommy. Her family seems just wonderful.

L on

I really like her and her attitude. As parents you do what feels right and natural..I still check on my kids a thousand time a night.

Carol on

I used to lay down and read 1 book to the kids and when they fell asleep then I got out of bed. We had a ritual…monster spray, dream candle, book. Then I could make sure they were covered up too.

Cordelia's Mommy on

My daughter is almost 5 and we still co-sleep. And once she does transfer to her own bed (which will be soon, as we are finishing remodeling her room now) I suspect I will lay with her till she falls asleep each night too. I never did the cry it out method either, I agree with her that it just didn’t feel right. So many parents stress themselves out so very much over this whole sleep thing. I am so very NOT stressed about the sleep issue by co-sleeping. We all sleep comfortably and well. Good for her! (and her girls!)

Rebecca on

I lay with my daughter sometimes until she goes to sleep, I check on her a billion times a night and never let her “cry it out”
Sometimes I don’t think those people who claim to know everything, actually know anything when it comes to kids. I know each parent has to do their own thing, but some things just feel wrong

Kimberly Coleman on

She seems like a really cool mom. I lay with my 4 year old son for “three songs” every night before he goes to be and I value that time. Even though I stay at home with him, it’s the time that I hear the most what’s on his little mind and heart.

Lilliness on

Thank You, Jenny! I do the same thing! My 13 month old is just go go go all day long. Bedtime is Mommy and Me time for us. We do the Tubby, drink some milk and read our story, and then do some good rocking in the glider. The great thing is, is that he doesn’t seem to dependent on it…Daddy just lays him down and he’s fine with that!

Take that “Experts”!!!

Lauren on

I too LOVE this woman! I lay with my 2 1/2 year old every night. We tried to let her “cry it out” but I couldnt handle her being so sad. I would rather her go to bed feeling safe then alone.

Stef on

Psh! At 8 years old, much less 10, I would be like “MOM! Get out of my bed! SERIOUSLY.”

The only time I ever slept in my parents’ bed (past infancy) was when I had a nightmare. Bedtime was fairly uneventful in my house (prayers and goodnight kiss) and I grew up to be pretty well-adjusted. Perhaps parents should think about their poor kids trying to grow up and be cool around their friends and having to admit, “Yeah, I still sleep in my mom’s bed. I’m hoping to be out by freshman year.” or “I’d love to come to your sleepover, but I’ll have to bring my mom cos I don’t sleep alone.” LOL I think a lot of habits would be nipped in the bud if the parents imagine what their adult kid will have to put up with if it gets out that they kept their nook until they were seven or slept with mom until they were 13.

I know of many parents who didn’t co-sleep and never had kids “cry it out.” I also know many who did co-sleep and now have 10-year-old kids who refuse to sleep unless mom is with them, thus ending mom’s night at 8 pm. I honestly believe that the “benefits” (if any) of stuff like this is entirely on the parents’ side, especially in the long run.

sm on

Good for her. I have yet to meet a parent who regretted cuddling their children too much. Like Jenny said, they’re only young once. Enough it.

gargoylegurl on

I think familes do whatever works best for them in *their* situation.

I didn’t co-sleep with my son, but I did lay down with him, usually until he fell asleep. I agree with many of the above comments, this time was very special. It was *our* time to read, sing, talk, snuggle.

By the way, my son is 15 now, he’s never had any anxiety having sleepovers, or any other adverse affects from me laying down with him. If anything we have fond memories, and often laugh about the silly songs and stories we would share.

Occasionally I will still go into his room and lay on his bed and talk to him. In my experience, I think this habit has been over all very positive and has been instrumental in helping develop the close relationship we share today!

Annabelle on

As a Mom to 2 boys(13 & 10), I know that time to talk at bedtime is crucial in keeping communication lines open. As another poster said, this is when you hear what is really on their hearts & minds. Now in the teen & pre-teen years, this is especially important — & it’s BECAUSE we started doing this when they were really little that we continue to have a great relationship & the ability to talk about anything & everything.

For me, I think the key is lying down with them & talking (mostly listening!), but then leaving before they fully fall asleep. We’ve started an alternate night schedule as they both want to talk so much that it just took took too long. Now they look forward to “their night” of having Mom’s full attention (I do take nights off & not lie down with anyone too). Conversations range from the birds & the bees to homework to religion to problems with friends … you name it … they can ask ANY question and I answer as honestly as I can. Latest topic: Men having babies. OY!

Enjoy your babies while you have them in your arms — because, it is TRUE, it does go by WAAAYY too quickly. One silly thing we started when they were babies was coming up with our own personalized bedtime lullaby song — & we still sing it now and then!

Colby on

Wow Annabelle, I want to mock what you are doing for when I have kids. Great Advice!

brooke on

she sounds like a good mom

Sheryl on

Hmmmmm…..I don’t think Stef is a parent. I have 3 grown daughters, I laid down with each of them when they were young. They had no adjustment problems and never thought (quoting Stef)
“Psh! At 8 years old, much less 10, I would be like “MOM! Get out of my bed! SERIOUSLY.”
Children & Parents need bonding time and I am sorry bedtime was so uneventful for you Stef….to bad, you missed out on a great deal. Bedtime in our home was a VERY eventful time. I LOVED it then and miss it now.

Joy on

Good for her. Kids aren’t always able to express needs to their parents, so sometimes parents need to be extra intentional. I’d want to keep a connection for as long as possible, too!

I love snuggling with my 5 month old, and every night I savor our moments together as I stare at her sweet face…

Pamela on

I slept in my parents bed almost every night when I was a toddler and I have some great memories from stories we would make up, and then when I started kindergarten, my mother or father stayed with me every night until I fell asleep-because I wanted them too. As an only child, I didn’t share a room with any siblings, so, my parents filled that void. I am (hopefully) an extremely well adjusted 21 year old that is very close to both parents and consider them to be some of my closest confidants. I love Jennie Garth for not being ashamed of admitting she enjoys spending that time with her daughters, and I know when I have children, I’ll strive to be as much like my mother as I can, including night-time rituals.

Snow on

I also disagree with Stef, my now 8 1/2 yr old daughter asks me to lay with her at bedtime often, and she is a very advanced well adjusted child! I NEVER let my children cry it out, I always, layed with, rocked or cuddled them to sleep and it has worked wonders for me. I think children know what they want just as much as the parents know what they want FOR them and they grow so fast already, why not take the time at bedtime to cherish your child? Its a no brainer to me.

Stef on

Sheryl–No, I’m not a parent, but I haven’t completely blacked out to what happened when I was a kid. Bedtime wasn’t a huge production at my house, but it wasn’t as if I lived the life of Oliver Twist–love-starved and self-sufficient at age 4. I had countless opportunities to bond with my parents–at dinner, driving in the car, any other moment that I was awake. I could cuddle with them sitting on the couch.
Actually, they would send us to bed a bit early so I could read for a while before lights out, which was (and still is) my favorite thing to do. It worked because *everyone* got to wind down at the end of the night. I was never sleep-deprived.
And it’s a whole different can of worms to tuck your kid into bed and tend to them than it is to co-sleep. I’m not condemning the former. I never said that you have to put your kid to bed the same way you’d lock cows up in the barn at night. But all the kids in my generation (now adults) slept alone in their beds and I have yet to find one that is estranged from their parents due to lack of co-sleep bonding.

JK on

I have 2 boys. My younger son co-sleeps with us and it works well for our family. Unfortunately, we let our older son cry it out because EVERYONE was saying that’s what you do or you’ll never sleep again. Well, personally, I wish we hadn’t with him. I was well into my second pregnancy and working 40+ hours a week and I needed to sleep, so my husband really pushed for it. It was the worst 3 nights of my life. He did fall asleep on his own after the 3rd night but now my older child is sometimes anxious, he worries, and he has nightmares at least twice a week. I wonder if the “crying it out” helped to create that. My younger son sleeps amazingly well with us. I commend any parent that follows what their heart tells them instead of what “experts” say.

Renee on

Stef, your comments are still kind of offensive to parents who do co-sleep. How can you judge what’s right for a parent to do when you don’t have children of your own? There are just certain things that you and I won’t understand until we have children of our own.

fay on

i’m sure when you guys’ who still sleep w/ ur kids, and don’t want to let ur kids cry it out will also be helicopter parents who’s kids college professor’s absolutely ADORE you…

let the kids work it out… crying is natural, and human…and oh my God when your children go out into the real world and nobody cares about ur precious little baby crying…

u guys are setting ur kids up for a WORLD of dissapointment…

Stef on

Renee–See, it’s that kind of patronization that annoys me. You don’t have to personally have kids to have any clue about raising them. If so, SuperNanny would be out of a job. Giving birth does not make a person an instant parental genius, nor does being childless make one completely clueless to child-rearing.
The majority of my friends and family members my age have kids, I was a kid, I was raised with other kids, I ask moms what they do, I have helped others in raising their kids, and I have eyeballs so I can see what’s happening. I’m not exaggerating when I say that 95% of the moms I know with kids in the past or currently did/do not co-sleep on a daily basis. And I don’t belong to some fringe solo-sleeping cult. It’s simply what I’ve discovered through experience or investigation. When asked why, the moms always say, “Because no one would get any sleep otherwise.”

Bb on

I think it’s a personal choice. Personally my bed is for my partner and me, for us to spend time together, alone. Maybe that will change when we have kids, but i really hope it doesn’t. I want to share my bed with my partner, because i love him and it’s an important end to the day. That said, who knows what will happen when we have kids.

brannon on

While I too lay down with my son (he just turned two), I think some of you are ignoring a bit of merit to what Stef is saying. I teach fifth grade and know that some of my kids – boys especially – need to break away from mom a bit. A few of them talk about their moms still reading to them at night, laying with them etc. and the other kids do make fun of them. While I don’t agree (obv.) with the kids making fun of them, I do notice the boys who talk about their mothers this way are also quite often the same boys whose mothers still walk them to class each day, “check” on them throughout the day, and generally just “baby” them which has in turn, made them much less independent than the other children. Maybe that’s what Stef was referring too.

Like anything else, know your children and make decisions in “moderation.” You can never cuddle your toddler too much … just be careful to recognize when your child starts become an “adolescent?”

Renee on

Brannon and Stef,I disagree. Not every child and situation is the same.None of us are experts on every child and parent in the world

Irish Girl on

Lol! I used to babysit my little brother when he was small & that’s how I always got him to sleep at night, otherwise he wouldn’t go because he just wanted to be up doing ‘cool’ things downstairs with the older kids! The amount of times I woke up after midnight having fallen asleep too :p

Melissa on

Hey Stef. . .when you have kids, you can have an opinion. Until then, you don’t know what it is like to be in that situation and you cannot give an educated opinion because YOU have never been there.

Becky on

My daughter will be sixteen in October. When she was little, I would read to her, we’d sing, say our prayers, and I’d crawl into her bed and rub her back until she went to sleep. She always had a early bedtime, so I still had the evening free. There was never a problem. We continued the ritual after her dad left us, as I wanted to keep one thing in her life the same. As she aged, she didn’t need the same ritual. I haven’t crawled into her bed for almost seven years, and folks, I miss it more than you will ever know. But, now before bed, she comes to the kitchen table to talk about everything in her day, the drama, school, friends, and her future. Hang on to the little years, because it’s certainly a different life when the children are almost grown and gone…

paula on

We let all three of our kids “cry it out” and now with two 4 year olds and one 20 month old, we have very restful nights. We tuck them all in at bedtime, sometimes make up a short story or just chat for a few minutes, and then they all sleep through the night and my husband and I can have our time together. Sometimes they come into our bed in the morning for a few minutes before we get everyone dressed. This works wonderfully for us. Everyone gets a full night’s sleep, I still feel bonded with my kids and my husband and I can be intimate. If co-sleeping works for your family, that’s great, but I honestly can’t imagine it working for us.

emily on

I agree with those of you who said you’d rather only share your bed with your partner/husband. I think once people have kids, their intimate relationship with their spouse gets put on the back burner…which is a bad mistake. Happy parents make happy kids. If parents cant unwind and have some “adult time” for themselves, their relationship suffers.

Melany on

Co-sleeping is very old. People did it for millions of years. The separate beds are quite new. Children who have to “cry it out” and finally sleep through have given up. They feel abandoned, noone is coming. Finally they give up. But the scar is there. You really want to do that to your kids? They have been in your womb for nine months and suddenly they’re supposed to sleep on their own. How weird is that?
I have a 11 year old and a 3 year old. We co-sle(e)p(ed) with both of them. With my 3 year old I stay until she falls asleep (usually 5 minutes) and then I have the evening for myself (and hubby). With the 11 year old me or my husband lay down with her and talk for a while and then we leave. That’s all it takes.
And Stef – no you actually have no idea if you ask me. You’ll see.

Melany on

Emily – you think you can only do that in your bed? My husband and I are married for 15 years. Our “adult” life hasn’t suffered!;)

emily on

Well I’m glad your romantic life hasn’t suffered. I just believe night time and the bedroom area should be off limits for kiddies. Another point I forgot to mention…if you want more time with your children during the day, cut out 2-3 of their after school activities! It’s parents who overbook their kids.

Christina on

Renee, did you even read a word brannon wrote? Do you understand how juvenile and obnoxious it is to keep talking down to other readers like you know more than they do? You do this in practically every post, and I for one am sick and tired of it. I know other readers are as well. If you can’t handle the opinions of others, you are not mature enough to be responding.

brannon, I personally completely agree with you and appreciate your insight. Well said.

Hilary on

I actually checked CBB earlier in the day and saved this post to look at now.

Initially, I was going to write that while I’d always thought “co-sleeping” was a little weird, after reading Jenny’s reason for “co-lying” (the girls seem to fall asleep on their own), I thought it was something I’d like to do with my kids someday.

While I have no children myself, I am the daughter of very very loving, and affectionate parents (hugs and kisses everytime my brother or I leave the room:). They did not co-sleep. My mom is a doctor, and I think much as she cuddled us during the day, she would not have approved of co-sleeping for fear of dependency.(Not that this is always the case, but I do see the point.)

Though many of you have stated that dependency doesn’t seem to be an issue with your kids, the idea I liked most was that of Annabelle, esp. since your boys know that the co-lying time is not guaranteed, or necessary for sleep. What a lovely thing to do.

As for Stef, I totally agree with you as well!!! I’m 24 and with such coddling from my folks, co-sleeping would have been the icing on the embarassement cake if word had gotten out. I think little kids who might grow to be dependent should be stopped at co-lying for sure. And then they can have the “option” of mom or dad continuing the tradition later on.

Either way, everyone is entitled to their own opinions because as all the moms here know, people’s minds change after having kids:)

paula on

I can guarantee you that my children do not feel “abandoned” and are far from “scarred” because at some point we let them cry it out. They are wonderfully secure, happy, affectionate children. Like I said, if it works for you, wonderful! It doesn’t work for us, and we’re happy as clams!

brannon on

Thank you Christina:) I agree…although Renee actually nicely summed up what I said in my first post. Seems a little like the pot and the kettle …

Linda on

stef, your friends must not be breastfeeding mothers then, because co-sleeping is pretty much the only way to get a good night sleep when a child is nursing every couple of hours. one of the best things about breastfeeding is not having to get out of bed. seriously, once you have your own baby, all your opinions will change according to the kind of parent you want to be and the temperament of your child(ren).

paula on

I breastfed and never did the co-sleeping thing. I did have them in a cradle next to my bed and when it was time to nurse, I took them out, nursed, and the put them back in their cradle, and then proceeded to sleep soundly until the next feeding. When we cut out the middle of the night feedings, we moved them to their own rooms. It’s really never been a issue in our family, with any of the 3 kids.
Also, I don’t think you need to have kids to know how you want to raise them. Before I had kids I remember seeing my older sister with her kids and other friends with their kids and thinking what I liked about how they raised their kids, and what I thought was not so good. I never really changed my opinion once I had kids myself.

Renee on

Christian and Stef, I have a right to state my opinions as well. Instead of attacking me on a post, just email me if you have a problem with me especially when it has nothing to do with the post. Also, Christina I’m not going to tell you not be here and not respond like you did me because I respect the fact that you have a right to be here. But I also recognize that I have the right to disagree with you. I know not everyone will agree with me and that’s okay. I have a lot of friends who disagree with some things I do but we get along because we can respect that we all have different ideas about the world around us. We do have debates but they are interesting and no harsh feelings. I have just as much of a right to be on this blog like both of you.

Melany on

So you think they cry just for fun? What or who do you think they are crying for? And just because the scar isn’t obvious doesn’t mean it’s not there. How would you feel if you were scared and you cry out for someone and they would just say, “oh let her cry it out, she’ll stop in a couple of minutes!” If you don’t want to co-sleep then don’t do it. But don’t let them cry it out. It’s a horrible thing to do to the little ones.

Mia on

I have two boys 6 and 3… The 3- yr. old pretty much puts himself to bed (thank goodness!) whereas it is the 6 yr. old that still has a hard time and who still needs me to lie down with him. Not to sound harsh- but it drives me crazy! I feel as if I have “no time” for myself what-so-ever- it’s draining and exhausting to me especially since he is not one of those kids that just goes off- he talks,talks, talks, etc… until I have to tell him to turn it off or talk to his lovey. He was a preemie (not sure if that has anything to do w/it) but he has always had “sleep issues”. We also tried the “cry it out” approach- it did not work for us, it was agony.

Christina on

“Christian and Stef, I have a right to state my opinions as well.”

You are confusing your right to state your opinions with the right to play comment police, the latter of which you do not have but pretend to do on a regular basis. You say you want healthy debate, which this site provides in abundance, yet whenever someone politely states an opinion you disagree with (practically every time someone opens their mouth), you take it upon yourself to attempt to matronize them and insinuate that they should not be saying what they are (“Who are we to judge?” is a favorite throw-out line of yours; too bad you don’t use it yourself).

I find it highly interesting and telling that you want anyone who has issue with you and the way you treat people to deal with it privately yet you have no problem being rude and obnoxious to other readers in the open instead of, once again, taking your own advice. Your rules don’t just apply to you, sweetheart, and until you choose to actually respect everyone else’s opinions and their right to express them, I will continue to call you out on it.

I have no idea why you appear utterly unable to comprehend all of this-it isn’t rocket science. Your behavior is utterly rude and childish, and contrary to what you think, other readers do not have to accept it.

paula on

Melany, I think there are a lot of other things that many parents do that may actually “scar” children leave them feeling “abandoned” (from divorce and remarriage all the way to abuse), and I have yet to encounter anyone who was “scarred” by crying for a couple of hours on a couple of nights when they were an infant, especially when they live in a loving, nurturing family. Call me crazy, but I don’t buy your theory. I’m not saying that co-sleeping is a bad idea…in fact I continue to state that if it’s right for your family, please by all means continue to do it. But it’s not right for everybody and there is absolutely no evidence that letting a child cry for a couple of nights scars them for life. As I said my kids all did it, and they are beautiful, bright, loving, affectionate (I could go on and on) kids.

Lori on

Obviously, co-sleeping is a personal choice. I don’t believe anyone should be crucified for practicing it, or electing not to – -just as I don’t think anyone who believes in letting their child cry it out should be criticized.

I personally don’t believe in co-sleeping, particularly for older children. Once it is our son’s bedtime, that is special time for me and my husband. It’s the only time we have all day that is just for us, when we can talk about our day, laugh, discuss serious subjects and, yes, be intimate. As another poster so astutely stated, happy parents make happy children and this time for us is critical and crucial to keep our communication open and remain emotionally intimate with each other as well.

I know that all children are different and respond differently to different situations. My son has never had a problem sleeping in his own bed and has never asked to sleep in ours. He has absolutely no problems or concerns sleeping over at a friend’s house (although he did have a friend stay over at ours, until 1 a.m., when this little boy decided that he wanted to go home; according to his parents, this happens each and every time he attempts to spend the night out and has never been able to successfully sleep over).

To brannon – – thank you for being a teacher, probably one of the toughest jobs out there!

Heather on

Parenting is so very personal and this includes choosing to co-sleep. I respect all of my friends choices and they are all good parents- even though we all parent differently.
Our oldest is a co-sleeper ( he is 3 1/2) and our expectations were that he would share our room until I was comfortable witb my first baby being in his own room.
Let me preface this with the fact that he had to sleep completely packed in with rolled up towels in his bassinet until he was 6 months old and no longer fit.
Our attempts to transition him to his crib ended in 45 minutes of hysteria and vomitting no matter which method we tried.
So in our bed it was- or no one would rest. Soon after he was 1, my husband bought a king sized bed because he liked the cuddle time he didn’t get in the day with the baby.
As it turned out our little guy had cerebral palsy and probably had issues we couldn’t understand.
Our 20 month old daughter has no interest in sleeping with us and she loves her crib.
It is all very individual and no one can judge another parent. We all love our babies and that is the most important thing!

Robyn on

Oh good lord. Stop bickering about it and just do whatever is right for you and your family. I’m so sick of this mommy war crap.

aeich88@ yahoo.com on

i am a mother of a nine month old son he is having withdrawls because i have school at night so i do all my talking and love on him before i leave. And he is doing great.

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