My first baby was a total dream and convinced me that at the tender age of 21, I was a parenting prodigy. It couldn’t possibly be that I had an easy-going baby. It was me and my amazing skills.
He nursed like a champ, he quickly and effortlessly fell into a predictable schedule, I got him to sleep through the night by 8 weeks, he reached all of his milestones on time or ahead of schedule.
He was perfect. Or I was perfect. Or maybe we were both perfect?
My second baby was born just two years later, and because I was such a perfect parent, I was really thrown for a loop when my second baby wasn’t at all like the first.
He was cranky, constantly wanted to be held, had a sensitive tummy, so I had to be super careful about what I ate. He rarely slept, and when he did, it was only for 45 minutes at a time.
I was exhausted, he was exhausted. We were both exhausted. But I realized something very important. I wasn’t a perfect parent, I just lucked out with my first.
Or maybe it wasn’t all luck. My methods were also different.
Sleep Through the Night- Baby 1
I was young when I had my first baby, I had just turned 21. I was the oldest of four children and had done a lot of babysitting in high school, so I felt very comfortable around babies.
The first week home from the hospital felt impossible though. I couldn’t get my precious bundle to sleep outside of my arms.
At about the ten-day mark, one of the ladies that I babysat for all through high school visited me. She handed me a book. She told me that if I followed the principles in the book, my baby would start sleeping.
She cautioned me not to apply it legalistically, but to use it as a foundation, and form my parenting style from there. The book was Babywise.
I applied the principles, and my baby immediately responded. He started napping, and around 8 weeks of age, I got him to sleep through the night for 8-hour stretches, and then several weeks later, for 12 hour stretches at night.
I was so happy and well-rested. He continued to grow, flourish, and sleep at perfect age-appropriate intervals with no fuss whatsoever.
If I had been wise (Parentwise?) I would have realized that we had stumbled up something wonderful and not listened to naysayers.
No Rest for the Weary- Baby 2
While I was pregnant with my second child, I discovered the magic of internet forums! I stumbled across two different forums where there were many women with very strong opinions on the *right* way to mother.
These women were sold-out for the attachment parenting model, and so, they were very much opposed to having your baby follow any sort of routine.
Twelve years later, we all know what attachment parenting entails: co-sleeping, child-led weaning, night nursing, “wearing” your baby, etc. Disclaimer#1: I know there is much more to the attachment parenting philosophy, I’m hitting on the main practical points here, not the mindset.
Disclaimer#1: I know there is much more to the attachment parenting philosophy, I’m hitting on the main practical points here, not the mindset.
But when I was still a young (hormonal) pregnant mother, I was fully convinced that I did it all wrong with my first baby (even though he was the happiest baby I’d ever seen and was thriving!).
So I decided to do things completely differently once my second child was born.
I nursed him whenever he fussed, we didn’t co-sleep, but he slept right beside our bed in a cradle, I had him in a sling when he was awake.
The poor little guy was so miserable.
He couldn’t figure out how to sleep more than 45 minutes at a time, and I wasn’t helping matters at all by nursing him every time he made a peep.
I was confused, he was confused, and I felt like the madness was never going to end.
Enough was Enough!
Disclaimer #2: If you and your baby are happy with attachment parenting, then, by all means, keep using it. I was miserable and so was my baby, and so, it was not for us.
My mother saw how much we were both struggling at nine months, and she spoke up. She very compassionately told me that she was worried about us and helped me see that the way I was feeding him and handling nap time, etc. was contributing to his problems.
After feeling all of the feelings that come with realizing that I was the reason my baby was exhausted and miserable, I determined to do something about it.
I started working on getting baby number two on a routine that was appropriate for his age, and in less than two weeks time, I got him to sleep through the night. I had a completely different child.
He was no longer cranky, now he was happy, content, and smiling. He no longer took short, sporadic naps. Now, he slept for 1.5-2 hours twice a day.
He started sleeping 12 hours at night and stopped fussing all the time.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Should your aim be for your babies to sleep through the night?
You may think that two children are really not enough from which to draw any major conclusions. And you would be right!
I’ve gone on to have seven more children though, and following the same basic principles (with a LOT of my own tweaks along the way), all of my babies have turned into beautiful sleepers, and I was able to get them to sleep through the night before they were 12 weeks old. They were the happiest, most content little people.
You know how you feel when you didn’t sleep well (if you have a baby who isn’t sleeping well, you are probably feeling that way right now!) You are cranky, irritable, everything hurts a little?
Think how much worse it is for a baby who isn’t getting optimal sleep! Babies grow and develop at such a rapid rate. They desperately NEED that sleep.
In the next several posts, I will be touching more on good, healthy sleep patterns for babies, and how you can get there in your own home.
I have created this flow chart to help you right now if your baby is crying or out of sorts. Feel free to go ahead and download it for FREE and start implementing it.
What’s your biggest struggle right now with your baby? Are you both getting enough sleep? Leave me a comment below and let me know.