I have come to the conclusion that some things just are better left unsaid. And somethings, like "Your baby won't sleep through the night, ever." should totally be said before you have a baby! This post isn't really for the mothers who have problems with their babies sleeping. If your baby sleeps soundly all night long, and wakes up happy the next morning with birds singing and the Disney music in the background... good for you! That's awesome, and I applaud you!
This is for the mommies who are up every two hours with their little ones who insist on feeding constantly. Who spend endless nights on the couch, holding them, trying to get some rest, and can't wait for the sun to come up, because it's just crazy to start the coffee pot before then, right?
Every baby is different. Every Mommy is different. Every Mom also has a list of needs, i.e. I need a HOT shower every couple of days, it is MY time to relax. I also need a soft bed. Coffee every so often is nice, too. So, armed with my coffee and knowledge of when my next nice, hot shower is coming, I can take on the constant barrage that staying home with little ones brings. This brings me to my theory: If sleep is important for the mom, the baby will sleep better. (Probably because the mom is more proactive about making it a priority, which is totally good.) If you are ok and can function with a couple of nights without sleep (like me, but two really is my all time max) then, your little one might not be such a good sleeper. Don't know if this God's selection of not giving you more than you can handle (which might have some part of it, maybe) but, I'm leaning more towards that it is possible to "train" your baby to sleep better~ you just have to be willing to do it. I, am not!!!
Let me just say that I can not handle crying it out. It didn't work for me or my son. The couple of times that I would try at nap, if he would fall asleep eventually, he would wake up early from the nap, and wake up MAD. He would cry for the rest of the day, worse than shot days. It did not work for us. And there were times when I felt so alone in this struggle, as everyone of my Mom friends had success with crying it out.
I had a friend recommend a book to me... "The No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. I highly recommend it, if nothing else, as a way of making yourself not feel so bad for not being "strong enough" to let your little one cry and cry and cry(yes, at 3 am, you can feel this way). I'm glad that crying it out works for some. I've heard miracle stories. Again, this is for the mom's for whom it doesn't.
This is one of the things that sometimes made me feel like less of a mom. I would think "Why can't I get a baby to sleep?" So, I hear all you sleepless moms out there. You are not alone! : )
Tips that I have found that really help, without tears!!!
1) Establish a bedtime routine. This is important to start as early as 3 months (if not earlier), and expect it to change as your little one does. It could change order, change times, ect., but when it works one night, follow until it doesn't anymore. And, you can always go back to old routines and try them again!
2) Adjust dinner time. Some little ones like dinner right before bed. Some like it a couple of hours before. Some mommies like dinner right before bath, because it makes for easy clean up (guilty!!!). Try adjusting it to see witch one works for you, and again, this may change!
3) I have started putting the shirt that I wear all day in the crib with Daniel at night. He is 18 months old now, so I'm more comfortable about having a loose material in his crib. He loves it, and cuddles up with it. And, he has been sleeping better with it. If you have a smaller one, try sleeping with snuggies, ect., and switching out every other night. The stronger the smell on the shirt (I know, ewww, but they love it, and hey, it doesn't have to be a bad smell!!!) the better.
4)Be certain of the temp in the baby's room. Last summer, we found out we had the vent closed in Daniel's room, because during the winter, the heater would make it too hot. Then, summer came, and no cool air was getting into his room. Ooops... But, easy fix!
5) Try white noise. This can be a sound machine (FYI, in my experience, (again, every kid is different) nature sounds don't work as well as water or just music.)which can get to be pretty pricey. This can also be as simple as a fan. Make sure that it isn't too loud, though.
6) NAPS!!! AS weird as it sounds, if you have a bad nap, expect a bad night. If your little one gets too tired to sleep, well, they are too tired to sleep. The overtired baby is an awful thing, and is not fun for the Mom, but it doesn't last long, promise!!! Make sure you accommodate for good naps, (even though they might not happen everyday) and it will make your nights better. I put up sun blocking curtains in Daniel's room (i.e. his comforter) and made it dark as possible. (There are different theories about this, but it has worked for me.) I also try to keep as quiet as possible for the first 10-30 minutes, so that he gets in his deep sleep, then I'm pretty much able to do most things.
Hope these help, and if you have tips of your own, please share, because we could all use them!
Here's to a good night's rest!