So, your baby is keeping you up at night? You’re desperate for sleep and the title of this post seemed liked the Holy Grail? You want to believe it could be true, that there is a magical answer out there.
When our own sleep is compromised we can barely think of anything else but our tiredness. I understand. I have four children and I have been where you are once or twice in my life. Well, several hundred times, more like.
If this title above read, “Teach your baby to talk in ONE day!” or “Give your bald baby a full head of hair in ONE day!” you would laugh and expect the article to be comedy. The truth of babies and sleep is this: It’s not entirely up to you.
The Myth of Baby Sleep
The problem here is the perpetuation of the myth that children should sleep independently through the night from the time they are a few months old. Sure, a handful of babies do sleep through the night from the start (I had one of them!) but most do not. Sleep patterns, and the ability to sleep all night, have a powerful biological foundation. We can affect this somewhat with routines and our actions, but just like your child's eye color, height and the amount of hair on her head, much of your child's sleep patterns are out of your control.
Why It Isn't Practical
Babies have immature sleep systems. They have very tiny tummies. Babies grow rapidly, their liquid diet digests quickly. Although it would be nice to lay your little bundle down at a predetermined bedtime and not hear a peep from him until morning, even the most naïve among us know that this is not a realistic goal for a baby. During those early months, your baby will have tremendous growth spurts that affect not only daytime feedings, but nighttime feeding needs as well.
Your Baby Is Normal
This means that it is perfectly natural, absolutely normal, and totally expected for your baby to wake up in the night and need nourishment or your help to fall back to sleep. Sleeping all through the night, every night, without needing a parent’s assistance, is like learning to walk or talk or drink from a cup — all kids get there, but they do so at their own speed, a little bit at a time, and in their own unique way.
I suggest that you learn to relax about night waking right now. Being stressed or frustrated about having to get up won’t change a thing. This is a lot like childbirth — a very, very short period of time in your life, the overwhelming fatigue of which you’ll probably not be very able to recall very clearly later on when you’ll be too busy raising your child.
One Day at a Time
The situation will improve day by day; and before you know it, your baby won’t be so little anymore — he’ll be walking and talking and getting into everything in sight … during the day, and sleeping peacefully all night. But you’re in this no-sleep stage now, so do what you can to get through it as comfortably as you can. Take naps. Accept help. Relax your standards. And most of all, enjoy your baby!
For more tips read The No-Cry Sleep Solution for gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night.