It seemed like my son wasn’t hours old before some well-intentioned relative or friend was asking how he was sleeping. Truthfully, I didn’t know how he was sleeping compared to other babies. He was the first one I had and I didn’t know what was normal. I only knew what I had.
By the time my son was three months old, his pediatrician was telling us to sleep train him. “His weight is fine,” our doctor told us. “He doesn’t need to eat in the night.”
My husband and I made a plan to go cold turkey on our son’s night feedings. After all, we were newbie parents and our pediatrician was an expert. And we were exhausted. We would have done just about anything for a good night’s sleep. By the second night, it was clear that things weren’t working out. I didn’t mind hearing him fuss, but I did mind hearing him scream for half an hour at a time. We made a plan to try again in another month — and it worked the second time around.
Looking back, I realise maybe we should have just let my son find his way into sleeping through the night when he was ready instead of pushing him. Here are a few other things I learned from sleep training.
1. You don’t have to do everything your pediatrician suggests. As a new mum, I took every word my paediatrician said as gospel. Turns out, he was just making suggestions and wasn’t going to give me a “bad mom” sticker if I didn’t sleep train my baby when he told me to.
2. When it comes to newborns, everyone is too sleep-obsessed. I’m not kidding when I say people started asking me how my son was sleeping from the moment he was born. Not all babies are good sleepers and some are. We don’t need to talk about it all the time. It just makes parents nuts.
3. Every new parent lies. Spend time in your favourite Mummy & Me class and it’ll seem like everyone’s baby is sleeping through the night from the time they’re an hour old. But, that’s probably not the case. Sometimes we only see our kids through rose-colored glasses.
4. Every child will eventually sleep through the night, even yours. In fact, your child will do everything from sleeping to sitting to rolling over. Pushing her won’t make those milestones happen any faster.
5. You will have to teach your kid how to sleep more than once. Children grow and develop, and those changes can affect their sleep patterns. So, chances are, you’ll sleep train your kid more than once.
6. Just because your child is sleeping well doesn’t mean you are. Ask any mum when the last time she had a good night’s sleep was and she’ll probably say some time right before she had her first child. That’s because mums are notoriously bad sleepers. We’ve got too much on our minds and too much to do!
7. You’ll never need an alarm clock once you’re a parent. You may want your child to sleep until 7 or 8 a.m., but some kids are just naturally early risers, making that alarm clock next to your bed useless. Don’t worry, eventually your kid will be a high-schooler and refuse to get up before noon.
So, if you have a newborn who isn’t sleeping well yet, hang in there. It’s exhausting being up at night, but the phase won’t last long — even if it seems endless right now.