Forget the first smiles. Of all the milestones a new mom is desperate to reach, the most sought after one is the elusive and oh-so-evasive goal of sleeping through the night.
If you’ve been blessed by the ‘Baby Sleep Gods’ and your little one pulls a flawless 12-hour stretch each night, don’t ever say it out loud.
For the rest of the moms out there, here are some tips:
Baby sleep myth 1: Adding cereal to baby’s bottle will help her sleep through.
It’s commonly assumed that when you start solids, your little insomniac will suddenly sleep “like a baby” (that has got to be the dumbest, most ironic saying in the world). The absolute soonest that solids can be introduced is at 17 weeks. And despite the perception that carbo-loading your baby means a fuller tummy, research shows that it’s actually protein that aids sleep. So make sure your little one is eating enough protein at every meal.
Baby sleep myth 2: A tired baby will sleep better.
It is quite logical to assume that the less they sleep in the day, the more tired they’ll be at night. Or the later the bedtime, the later they’ll wake up. Again, totally logical. But babies defy logic. All the time. Turns out that the number one reason for early morning waking is over-tiredness at bedtime. And skipping daytime naps only leads to sleep sabotage. Remember moms, sleep begets sleep.
Baby sleep myth 3: My baby isn’t sleeping. She must be teething.
Teething gets a bad rap for those restless nights. It’s my scapegoat excuse. And while it could legitimately be a new tooth breaking through, it’s also too easy to label every “off” night as a teething problem. There are 750 billion other potential reasons as to why your kid is not sleeping.
Some of these potential reasons can include (but are not limited to): Sleep Regression; Sleep Association Dependency; Day / Night Confusion; Colic. Reflux and Growth spurts.
Or maybe it’s because you did or didn’t swaddle them in a sleep sac while you did or didn’t play white noise. Or because you ignored the cardinal “sleepy-but-not-sleeping” rule when putting them into their cots. Or because you did or didn’t follow a strict routine with a lavender oil bath-time massage. Or it could be because your little one lacks the ability to link their 45-minute sleep cycles. Or they’re a cat-napper. Suffering from night terrors. Probably because you didn’t limit awake-time during the day. Maybe they’re thirsty so you should or shouldn’t try dream feeding. And don’t forget to blame the dummy (dummying should be an actual verb: the act of getting out of bed to replace the fallen dummy 175 times throughout the night).
Finally, have you checked their ears?
After all else fails, you’ll go back to the drawing board. Only to find that it was probably-almost-definitely-maybe-certainly teething all along.
The bottom line:
You’ll try find any one of a number of reasons for poor sleep. And at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. Because ultimately teaching your baby to self-soothe themselves in and out of sleep cycles is the only answer. It kills me to acknowledge it, but there is so much truth to this.
If the sleep deprivation hasn’t killed you yet, fear not – because trying to figure out how to teach and implement self-soothing will finish you off.
It’s an endless debate of endless opinions with endless techniques (from crying it out, to gentle sleep training). The bottom line though is that babies really need to learn the technique of self-soothing. So that when it comes to waking up in the middle of the night, they can put themselves back to sleep independently.
So if you’ve figured it out, please share your sleep secrets with us fellow moms below.
Dani Silbermann is mom to Jake, and a mommy blogger. Visit www.babyjakesmom.com to read more of her blog posts.