I’ve been thinking a lot about sleep this week and more specifically the ideas that we as parents have about our babies’ sleep schedules. You’ve heard the old phrase, “sleeping like a baby” right? My third baby is now a toddler and each of my children has further convinced me that whoever started using the phrase “sleeping like a baby” to try to conjure images of soft and peaceful slumber was flat out full of hogwash.
When I brought my first child home from the hospital I was surprised to find that there just wasn’t any truth in the old saying, at least not during the hours that most humans tend to sleep. My sweet little darling slept beautifully, but only during the day. Her days and nights were mixed up, so by the time she was waking up for a few hour stretch I was ready to crawl into bed. We’ve all been there haven’t we?
We finally got into a day/night routine and I became excited because I’d heard over and over how babies usually start sleeping through the night when they started solids or at the very least somewhere around the six month mark. In my sleep deprived stupor I was thrilled that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
The six month mark came, and the six month mark went. Along came twelve months, and so on. My gorgeous darling girl finally slept through the night on a consistent basis somewhere around eighteen months. My second child took even longer, sleeping through the night around age two. It was close to his fifth birthday before he was able to go several nights in a row without waking me. Not to be outdone by his older siblings, my third child is now two and a half and I can count the number of times he’s slept through the night on both hands.
In fact, the little guy is why sleep is on my mind this week. Last week he slept through the night- a whopping eight hours. A full night of sleep had only happened three times so far in 2012, so it was a pretty big deal. His schedule varies but it’s quite normal for him to wake up at least two or three times a night. However, and I say this in a whisper so as not to jinx myself; out of four nights this week he’s only woken up once. I was contemplating how amazing it is that I’m celebrating sleeping through the night at 2 ½ years old when I thought of how it really isn’t that uncommon.
I’ve talked to dozens of moms with little ones just like mine, babies who still don’t sleep through the night at a year, two or even three. When my first two children were babies everyone around me was talking about how great their babies were because they were sleeping ten hours straight through the night. I knew that my kids were great and amazing babies, but I didn’t realize that we weren’t alone in our sleep struggles. Lots of babies don’t sleep and plenty of moms understand exactly what I‘ve been through. If you have a baby like mine I’d love to give you some practical advice but I’m obviously not in a position to be doling out sage wisdom. I can tell you though that you aren’t alone and I promise you that it does get better. Keep responding to your baby in a loving manner and meet his needs the best way thaty ou can. Take care of yourself and grab extra sleep when you are able. It really won’t last forever, I’m happy to say that both of my big kids sleep quite nicely through the night; the jury is still out on the little guy.