We Don’t Need To Change Babies’ Sleep Habits, We Need To Change Our Expectations

I ran a monthly in-person B-feeding support group and a support group on social media for B-feeding for seven years. I replied to hundreds of phone calls and emails from new moms during that time. Mom’s questions certainly had to do with issues related to B-feeding, such as whether they had a successful latch in their baby or if they produced enough milk. But they were still worried about the issues that affect all new mommies, whether they are B-feeding or not.

They wanted to know if it was common for their newborn only to nap well if they slept directly on their mother or father. They needed to know why at all hours of the night their three-month old waked up anyway. They wanted to know why they only took cat naps at their two-month-old. They wanted to know why, midnight, their 12-month-old still woke up. These moms were overwhelmed. They were overwhelmed. They seemed persistent. They thought their babies were having something wrong there.

They were taken by surprise at how freaking their babies were acting, unpredictable, wakeful and erratic. Was it something that they did eat? Has their baby suffered from a sleep disorder? Needed they burp their baby more frequently? Would this method of sleep training be working? Come on with this one? Change the litter? Change the timeframe for the nap? I’ve listened to the concerns of those moms. When my babies were young I had them, too. I remember my two-month-old being held in my arms. I was exhausted and in despair.

My son would just snuggle on my chest, and at a time for about 20 minutes. If we bounced him on an exercise ball, he would just fall asleep. All the books and websites and social media groups and grandmas said I did it wrong, and I didn’t know what to do about it. I thought my baby was failing. The same message was received by the mums I supported. They would read all the websites with advice on sleep and feeding that told new parents that babies were supposed to have two-month – old clear-cut napping and sleep schedules.

They ‘d read the books that predicted when babies were supposed to sleep through the night (some books said by three months; others said by six months). They would have read the books which offered schedules for sleep and bedtime. They ‘d heard the internet advice warning moms not to set up bad sleep or nap habits, and how it wouldn’t teach independence to soothing your baby to sleep. How all you needed to do was x , y, z and in no time you would get a perfectly behaved, well-slept baby.

They came to me with tears in their eyes during those monthly meetings, because they felt they had messed up. No matter what they did, their babies did not do what they were meant to do, no matter what they were trying to. They never slept. They didn’t snuggle. They were not autonomous. After I asked them some basic questions like whether their babies were growing well, whether their pediatricians had any developmental problems, etc., I told them the plain truth: their baby was absolutely fine. Their infant acted like a human.

Babies do not. Their agendas are all over the place. They want to be close to their parents, at night and during the day. And the answer to “what to do” was to ride it out, get as much support as you could possibly, have a healthy sense of humor about everything and accept that this is your new normal. For the moment. These were not what they wanted to hear for some moms. They just needed a patch. They wanted me to tell them that it was going to be the ticket to a more restful life to change their diets, change their schedule, use this method or that way.

They were mad at me for asking them to just go for it, because they couldn’t believe that. But what do you know? Most mothers breathed a deep sigh of relief. They were typical kids. There was nothing wrong with them in the developmental sense. They had not had to try to repair them so fast. They just needed guidance and assistance. They needed to be living like a sleepy person, not expecting so much from themselves or their babies. Allow more support from colleagues, friends , relatives. Stop expecting to live the same life they had before having children. Pare down their timetable.

To advocate for yourself. Start saying no to the things they ‘d been too tired to do. Have faith that all of this would soon pass, and that all would be okay. We ‘d chat a lot on survival. The other moms who had been there before had spoken of whether they found it easier. They must know that an end is in sight and what that looks like. They need support from other moms — not the kind with judgment or suggestions on how things should be fixed. They wanted the kind of advice that goes like this: “I get it. Here’s how to make it.

I’m not saying it’s easy any of that. I understand the amount of pressure moms are under these days, too. So many moms have to go back to work before their babies sleep well and it’s unfair to expect moms not only to work but also to hold down the fort at home. In the world of life, motherhood and marriage there’s still so much inequity. There’s not enough support for moms, young children’s families out there. But I think it’s harmful to have unrealistic expectations about babies too.

Yes, you can “train” babies from their cat-napping, night-waking, and general finicky-ness at times. But not all babies take these approaches, making moms believe they have been “wrong.” And even those who can be conditioned usually need to be regularly retrained: any time they get sick, they have a growth spurt, or they just want to change things for you. Imagine how much less stressed it would be if moms knew their babies are normal, happy and perfect. I don’t think moms should be magically well-rested or full of strength.

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I am a passionate content writer, who love to write on love, music, celebrity news, and other news stories. Writing is my passion and I really love my job, during writing I also make sure that we do the right thing, presenting the right story with no fake or exaggerated content. I have been writing for the last 7-years and will continue to do the same for rest of my life.

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