So here I am, a mother of three and both a producer and consumer of vast amounts of parenting literature, and I still find myself googling things like, “at what age will baby sleep through the night.” I'm pretty sure my recent search queries read something like this:
- when will baby sleep through night
- at what age can I stop the dream feed
- teething and sleep training
- getting baby to sleep
- somebody please help me
- so tired
- uppers, legal, Canada
- baby for sale
Because, holy shit, the whole baby sleep thing is insane. I know I shouldn't be surprised at this point in the game, but I am. I am completely caught off guard and have forgotten everything. And, guys, my kids are not even that old! They're only six and three … I should still have some shadowy memories of their infancy, right? I can only assume sleep deprivation is to blame.
Here's my current deal. I nursed my first born to sleep every time for a full year, pretty much, and then had to lay on some pretty difficult sleep training to get him sleeping through the night in his own crib. My second baby was much more high strung and sensitive, so I had her on a pretty regimented sleep schedule right from the get go which actually made her my best sleeper. So with baby Mary, I thought I'd already learned how to avoid sleep issues. For months I refused to nurse her to sleep and always put her down awake. There were no issues.
I mean, of course, she always woke up around 4am at which point I'd just bring her into my bed for the rest of the night. I didn't think that was an issue per se, though, until the hours between 4am and 7am became one big breastfeeding fest followed by, “Let's party, it's morning!”
And then there's the nap situation, too. Since my oldest kid is in half-day afternoon kindergarten, both her morning AND her afternoon nap are interrupted on a daily basis and she has basically no proper nap routine at all. This would be a disaster if she weren't the happiest, most easy going and adaptable baby on the face of the earth.
Then when she started solids I got into the habit of breastfeeding her in bed just before naps — even though I had not been nursing her down ever. I don't know why, exactly, except that it seemed like a nice window for the feeding. I really like breastfeeding in bed and I thought we had this sleep thing down, so why not?
Add to that some serious bouts of teething, a baby who can now sit up and pull to standing in her crib and the advent of separation anxiety and suddenly … I wound up needing to nurse her down to sleep every single time just to get through the week. Naps, bedtime, all through the night; you name it, she had one of my boobs in her mouth.
My reluctance to serve as a human pacifier has nothing to do with breastfeeding (which I love) and everything to do with her sleep habits. I have three kids and I work from home with only very occasional child care. I need to be able to count on solid daytime naps. I can't spend hours putting children to bed at night. And when I finally crawl into bed myself at some godforsaken hour, hoping for a solid four hours of sleep, I can't be waking to nurse every hour. I just can't.
So tonight, I fed her in my bed and then tried to rouse her just a little when putting her down so she'd remember how to settle herself down. That kick started a 45-minute up and down screaming fest throughout which she expected me to just breastfeed her down again and I kept lying her down in her crib instead. I don't know if I have the energy to see any sort of proper sleep training through right now. But I can't see ever having any energy again if I don't.
When did your kids start sleeping through the night? Did co-sleeping help or hurt? Do you have any magic tricks? Please share the magic!