Every new parent is given at least twelve hundred different strategies by no fewer than four hundred people for how to get their baby to sleep.
Your great aunt insists that crying it out is the only way to go; that blog you follow swears by white noise and total darkness; your friend doesn’t understand why you’re not following the method prescribed by her favorite book—her own baby started sleeping through the night months ago.
When my baby was four months old, being the naive new parent that I was, I thought we had this sleep thing down. She had progressed steadily since birth and was sleeping several hours straight. For a few short, sweet weeks, we enjoyed a relatively normal sleep schedule.
Suddenly, she stopped sleeping entirely. Maybe it was because we took a trip to America, or because she started rolling and we had to stop swaddling her. Perhaps it was the notorious “four month sleep regression”, or teething pain, or that nasty spring cold. It was probably all of the above. Whatever it was, it left me getting up at night more than I had when we first brought her home from the hospital. It was discouraging and I was tired.
Really, really tired.
Now, my child is over a year old and still waking up at night. As much as I’d love to be sleeping better, I’m over the dialogue surrounding sleep.
We need to stop talking about sleeping through the night as though it’s a major accomplishment on the part of the parent and/ or child. We need to stop talking about sleep challenges as though they are a major failure. Every kid is different, every parent is different, all of their circumstances are different, and frankly, I have never encountered a sleep strategy that would solve all of my problems without creating new ones.
When I’m feeling especially frustrated by our out-of-whack sleep routine, I try to pause and consider some of the things my child has gone through in her first 15 months of life. Things like traveling between to America from Germany three times— that’s six time changes of 6-9 hours each(!), getting ten teeth, an international move… All in addition to the normal (and immense) changes a baby goes through during their first year of life, like learning to walk and talk and eat and play, and generally trying to figure out how the world around them works.
When I remember how much has happened these past 15 months, I have more grace for her. It helps me understand why she might need her mother to get up with her in the middle of the night and help soothe her back to sleep.
As a newish mom, here’s a plea:
I don’t need tips for how to get my kid to sleep, nor do I need to be pressured to get her on a “normal” sleep routine, whatever that means for a 15-month-old (and I’m pretty sure it’s not sleeping 12 consecutive hours at night).
What I do need is a little encouragement to have the grace I need to through those long nights when sleep is not within my grasp.
Believe me, I’m tired. I’m pretty sure all parents of young children are. But sometimes, a bit of encouragement does a lot more to help than a piece of advice possibly could.