It’s hard to believe we are already creeping up on Alex’s first birthday, which is Dec. 8.
For the past few weeks, when rocking him to sleep each night, I’ve reflected on the past year and what I’ve learned as a new mom when it comes to sleep. From the struggles to the successes, there have been many ups and our share of downs.
If someone was about to “poop out a baby” (my husband’s words), here’s the unsolicited advice I would give regarding babies and sleep:
-Put. the. fu#%ing. books. down: When Alex was a week old, I picked up the Baby Whisperer Book for the first time, and I tried to implement her tactics. Yes, when he was a week old. I tried the whole napping/feeding/playing approach. It was when I looked at Alex and said aloud to him: “How can you play?! You can’t even keep your eyes open for more than 10 minutes!” I continued to read and research crying/sleeping/feeding advice, often tuning out my own intuition and my husband’s insight. It took me about four months to finally put the books down and read my son’s cues rather than take the experts’ advice. Reference experts’ advice, but it’s not Gospel and every baby is different.
– Sleep habits always change: When I
told bragged to my momma friend that Alex started sleeping through the night at three months, she kindly said, “the thing is, their sleeping habits always change.” I thought she was silly until I quickly realized she was right. Biotch. Alex continues to have up and down nights. He’ll sleep through the night for a week and then be up every night for two. It’s exhausting. So whether he’s in a good or bad phase, I get neither confident nor frustrated about his sleeping habits, because, as my (biotch) friend said, they’ll continue to change.
-It’s only a sleep problem if you think it’s a sleep problem: When stalking parenting advice on the internet during those first few months, I did come across a really good statement about sleep. The sleep expert stated: “It’s only a sleep problem if you think it is a problem.” For instance, if your baby needs a soother to go to bed, and you don’t think it’s a problem, then it’s not a problem. Alex likes to be rocked to sleep. ALL the sleep experts say that’s a short-term solution when creating ‘healthy’ sleep habits. They’re probably right. But then I thought to myself: I have limited time when I can rock this little man to sleep and I love it. So, for now, it’s not a problem (ask me this same question in six years)….
-Cut the guilt trip. I could not believe how easily guilt sweeps across me as a mom. Whether it’s because I’m frustrated that he won’t go down for a nap or not realizing that he needed a burp, I am constantly feeling as though I’m failing or letting Alex down. It’s an issue I still struggle with as I’m constantly suffering from mom guilt. This week my sister sent me a note and said: “Thinking of you and feeling guilty doesn’t help anything or anybody (especially you). I, of course, learned this the hard way, after years of GUILT, so trust me on this one! Lol ;)”. Now that’s some good advice!
Question: What’s the best sleeping advice you’d give to a soon-to-be new parent?
Hot Tip: You don’t really POOP out a baby.