Monday, September 9, 2013

Night waking: I'm not concerned, in the least!

Around this time in a baby's development, I find that parents tend to start hearing all kinds of advice about baby's sleep.  After having two children, I've heard most every piece of advice you can be given regarding baby sleep, and they tend to become more freely given when your baby is beyond the age of six months.  I've heard many of the following questions and statements below:

Why aren't they sleeping through the night?

You know, they should be able to sleep through the night at 6 months old.

There isn't any need for nursing at night at this stage.

You shouldn't be nursing your baby to sleep - they should fall asleep on their own.

Your baby doesn't need your comfort at night - they need to learn how to self- soothe.

You should definitely start letting them cry it out at this age if they're still waking you at night.

I don't really know why 6 months tends to be the magic age, but it typically is the time when this advice starts.  I often wonder if it's because most sleep training methods are recommended after six months.  So, because you can - you should?

why we don't sleep train

In my case as a second time parent, I know to nod and smile and then go home and do whatever I was going to do anyway, but the first time around I definitely was not as comfortable in that choice.  I listened to the advice from friends, relatives, and the media.  DH and I read the sleep books and did our research.

why we don't sleep train

With Little Man, we did end up doing Cry It Out once {or was it twice?  I'm not sure now...} and it was absolutely horrible for me.  There was one point where I just had to go outside and sit on our back porch while DH handled things because I had such a hard time doing what society told us we should be doing to "help" our child learn to handle things himself.

After trying cry it out, we decided as a family that it wasn't something for us.  While in the short term, it did help Little Man to fall asleep a smidge better on his own, in the long run we didn't want him to feel alone in his emotions for that long consistently.  We learned to deal with night wakings and trouble falling asleep with my favorite parenting mantra ever:

This too shall pass.

As with any part of parenting - the night wakings, the trouble falling asleep, the needing to nurse at night, the needing to be held or rocked at night - it will pass.  If you give it enough time and are patient during the process, soon enough you'll be through it and onto the next thing.

why we don't sleep train

Because, really, what is so wrong about waking at night?

I do it pretty frequently.  Whether it is to go to the bathroom, check the time, check on the kids, get in a more comfortable position, or even hold DH's hand when I have a bad dream - I wake in the night.

Why should my baby be any different?

Even though many people are of the opinion that those wakings should be gone, I {and many other parents} find them to be a totally normal part of this stage in development.  When our pediatrician tells us to try and eliminate night wakings or feedings, when friends tell me I shouldn't be cuddling at night, or when family tells me I'm creating poor sleep habits - I just nod and smile and go home and cuddle my babies.  It's what works for us, and with every family - you've gotta do what works for you.

And so far it has worked beautifully.  By never restricting Little Man's night nursing or wakings {we never did CIO to eliminate night feedings - only to help him fall asleep faster than the two hour rocking routine that had become our nighttime ritual}, he turned into a baby who nursed frequently in the night to a baby who slept 14 hour stretches each night, every night for months upon months.  Shoot, some mornings I'm still dragging him out of bed at 10 a.m. as a two year old.

why we don't sleep train, toddler sleeping habits, funny sleeping babies
Snuggling him when he woke as a smaller babe obviously did not impede his ability to self-soothe later on in his development.

Bottom line is, if you're a first time parent and you're not comfortable with sleep training or having your baby cry it out - don't fret.  By not acting as soon as the books say you can {or should} you're not screwing up your child.  Their sleep habits are going to fluctuate depending on their development and personality.  When they're ready to sleep through the night - they will.  If it's not bothering you immensely that your child isn't sleeping through the night yet?  Then leave it be.

Have you ever had someone tell you that your child should be sleep trained?  What are your thoughts on the topic of baby sleep?

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  1. My thoughts: you do what works for you and ignore everyone else. We sleep trained Evie AND I rocked her to sleep every single night until she wouldn't have it anymore. Hell, I still rock her at night when she requests it and she's two and a half. There's nothing wrong with sleep training and there's nothing wrong with not sleep training. Every family and child is different.

  2. I love this post! I just wrote a guest post talking about why I chose to ignore the Cry It Out method. I tried it for a few days, and it was awful. Listening to my child cry like that was the worst thing I had ever done!
    Then one day I had an epiphany. My son was only going to be little for only so long. And if he wanted me to rock him to sleep for a few years then that's what was going to happen. The day was coming when he wouldn't need me like that, and I didn't want to rush it; they grow up fast enough on their own!

  3. Loved your post. I just can't let my 5 month old little boy cry it out (like I have read or heard so much about) and I don't see myself changing my stance on that as he get's older. He co-sleeps with us so I do not expect him to sleep through the night but where we struggle a little bit is with naps. He will take them but in order to get anything quality (i.e. past one sleep cycle) I have to stay with him. If I nurse him to sleep and try to lay him down in his crib he wakes up immediately and cries. Then we soothe and rock and start over. Oh I how I would love to be able to have just a little bit of time during the day to accomplish some things. Curious how naps have gone for your two littles? Do they go down without a fuss and stay asleep?

    1. As for naps, Little Man is a pro at getting into bed and reading a book until he falls asleep - but he is also 2 and a half! For Little Lady, she still nurses to sleep. If she wakes when I go to put her down, I don't have the luxury of spending a ton of time rocking or nursing in a quiet room because I need to tend to Little Man, so she typically goes into a baby carrier or wrap on my back and falls asleep there.

      We are on sort of a hard schedule here right now for naps, though. Little Lady is mid morning and mid afternoon, and Little Man's main nap is midday. So, unless I disrupt someone's nap - we can't leave the house. Lol.

  4. That picture of little man is too funny! I'm having a such hard time deciding what to do with the sleep situation. The problem is anytime I consistently get up with her right away she starts waking more frequently at night. If I let her cry a bit she's only up twice to eat.

    The nights where she's up every 2 hours still I wake up ready to get my tubes tied.

  5. I totally agree with you -- up to a point. There is a point, when it night waking don't become normal and some children need a little extra support. Like when DS was still waking 10-12 times a night at nearly 11 months old -- that's not normal. And sleep training was vital. So, I think first time parents should keep that in mind too, cause sometimes its just necessary, and its ok to sleep train.

    1. I will definitely agree with that. If a child isn't getting enough sleep consistently each night to replenish their needs, then looking further into what your other options are may be a necessity!

  6. Loved this post! I go back and forth on sleep training. My daughter is 7 months and usually is up like clock work twice a night. We really want to avoid the first night waking and feeding but I also hate the back and forth struggle. DH is totally pro sleep training and self soothing but I have that mama instinct to soothe.

  7. My little is five months. I rock and sing him to sleep most nights. We love it. He has slept through the night about five times. Im okay. I will NOT let him cio. He needs me. And he transitioned to his crib perfectly. Love it jayne!

  8. This couldn't have come at a better time for us! We have been having a very difficult time trying to figure out how we should handle our 8 month old not sleeping at night and not sleeping in his crib. All the advice from friends and family is just let him cry. Babies cry. Well, I don't like it and my husband doesn't either. We just need to figure out what works for us as a family.

  9. Every child is just so so different. Between 4-5 months Braden was waking every hour for weeks on end and didn't even want to nurse. I! So I sleep trained and have never ever regretted it. Ethan wasn't as bad, but I sleep trained him too. He took WAY longer to come around, is a very different sleeper than his brother, but I still had to do it. I saw my niece being rocked and bounced to sleep for months on end, often not even resulting in a good stretch of sleep. It's just so so so individual for the family and baby. If my babies just magically started sleeping through the night - that would have been ideal. But I had to intervene. Good post, Jayne.

  10. This makes me so happy! My son is 9 months and the first thing anyone asks me is if he is sleeping through the night. Sometimes I just don't have the patience to listen to another person telling me that crying themselves to sleep in natural. I completely agree there is nothing wrong with him waking in the night. I co-sleep and some nights he wakes up once, some nights almost every 45 minutes.


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