Does Your Baby Sleep Through the Night Yet?
Posted January 22, 2014 by Prairie Wife - 7 comments
As a mother of four kids that are fairly close in age I have heard just about every comment in the world…”Don’t you know how that happens?” “You sure have your hands full!” “Why are you having another one, you already have a boy and a girl?” (Seriously that one was the worst) “How old are you?!” Through the years my pregnant stomach has been molested by more strangers’ hands than I care to think about. At this point, my standard response to them all is “The more the merrier!” and “How old do you think I am?!” I have learned to spot a caressing hand from a mile away and deflect the touches with either my purse, the grocery cart, or whatever child is closest. But without fail, there is one dreaded question I get as a mother that makes me seethe, I mean it seriously makes my blood pressure rise every single time!
Does your baby sleep through the night yet? I need to admit here, that some of my rage probably is hormonal and caused by exhaustion as well. But, I have found that in my experience most of the people that ask this question are just waiting to tell you how fabulously wonderfully long their baby (or grandbaby) sleeps. I always try to cheerfully answer with a “No not yet!” and shrug my shoulders. Only to be told how their baby started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks old, or to receive tons of not helpful in any way advice.
Look I know I am a little touchy about it. The Cowboy knows that when he calls in the morning to talk to the Cowkids, not to ask how I slept, so it’s not just strangers. Here is our family history of bad sleepers… Cowboy J didn’t sleep through the night until 9 months, which seemed like it took forever, but in retrospect it was pretty darn good! Cowgirl G started at about 18 months and Cowboy W was still getting up between 2 and 6 times every night until he was 2 years old. I did the same thing with each and every single one of them. Night weaning at 9 months, and I totally wean my kids on their first birthday (not the best present but you know…). I have the same routine for naptime and bedtime of reading a story, singing, and cuddling/nursing. Going down isn’t a problem, they hardly even cry when they get put down in their crib, even after I stop nursing them. Naptime is a joy around here, no troubles at all! It’s the staying asleep for more than two hours that causes the problems…
I have learned to function quite well on four hours of sleep, a term that I have labeled “sleep deprivation mode”. I may occasionally have attack of baby brain, but really most of the time I feel totally fine about not sleeping! I keep it all together around the Prairie Homestead, and have what I consider a pleasant and cheerful attitude. I have come to accept that my children are born without the gene that allows them to have a consistent sleep pattern at night. In my day to day life it really and truly doesn’t bother me that I haven’t had more than 4 hours of sleep in the last 7 years. By kid 3 I knew what I had signed up for.
But, then someone asks me the dreaded question “Does your baby sleep through the night yet?” and something happens. I start to think about how little sleep I do get, and how many times I was up with the baby the last few nights. I start to wonder how much more productive I could be with more sleep. And then I get to hear about how much sleep they are getting, and they start to offer me advice. I get that they are just trying to share their wisdom with me. I am sure that as they look at my heavy exhausted eyes, they are struck instantly with the need to help. But seriously if I have to listen to their well meaning words of wisdom one more time I might scream! Here are the top 5 things they tend to say followed by my inner monologue in parentheses…
1. If you give the baby solids they will sleep! (Because my 18 month old that still wasn’t sleeping through the night was on a totally liquid diet? Doesn’t work! Giving my kids solids had made no difference in anything other than their poop)
2. You can’t nurse them to sleep, that ruins them (I nursed Cowboy J to sleep and he slept through the night just fine at 9 months! Are you kidding me? Who in their right mind is going to wake up a baby after it falls asleep (which my kids always do when they nurse) just to wake it up, and then put it back to sleep?)
3. They need to sleep with you or They need to sleep away from you (I can’t have a baby sleep in bed with me all night long, I just don’t sleep as well. I know bed sharing works for tons of people, and I have been known to grab my kid at 4:00am and bring them into our bed but, for all night long, all the time…not for me. They sleep next to me in a bassinet for the first four months and then into their own room they go. This room change has never resulted in more or less sleep than before, just more calories burned as I get in and out of bed and walk down the hall.)
4. You need to keep their daytime schedule consistent. (Anyone that knows me is aware that I am very scheduled. It’s partly due to my ex-teacher status but mostly it’s just who I am. Around here my girlfriends call me the “Nap Nazi”. And with 4 kids and just me most days, you better believe that naptime and bedtime are always on time!)
5. You can’t let it be too quiet, they sleep better with noise or Do you try and keep the noise level down? (So the quiet/noise thing…where to start? Bedtime is pretty quiet around here, after all everyone is asleep! And nighttime on the prairie is pretty darn quiet other than the odd coyote call. Maybe too quiet you say? I turn on the baby’s mobile and I have a fan going at all times in the baby’s room because I am super afraid of SIDS, and fans have been proven to reduce the risk.)
SO thanks for your help I really appreciate it but trust me, if there is a trick to get babies to sleep through the night I have probably tried it, and it hasn’t worked. And I have driven myself to the brink of insanity more times that I care to admit trying to figure out just what I did or didn’t do to get my baby to sleep. In the end I have just learned to accept it and slather on the undereye cream. And if you ever see me please don’t ask if the baby sleeps through the night yet, you might be the unlucky straw that breaks this camel’s back…