It’s not your fault your baby doesn’t sleep. I know you sometimes think that it is, that you might be doing something wrong, but you’re really not. I’m going to bust a myth that still gets bandied around like true fact: some babies sleep and some babies don’t. Think of it like a baby sleep lottery – some parents get the winning ticket but millions of others don’t. It’s luck of the draw. The way the cookie crumbles. Life, etc etc.
I know that you spend lots of time hitting Google looking for reasons why your baby won’t sleep. And the answers are confusing: silent reflux, reflux, hungry, too hot, too cold, wrong crib, wrong sleepsuit, wrong blanket, too early bedtime, too late bedtime, not enough of a routine, the wrong routine, a wonder week, growth spurt… the list is endless. It’s exhausting, even if you had just had a full nights’ sleep, which you haven’t – not for a good few months anyway.
Please know that it’s not your fault your baby is awake at 3am. When you’re pacing the floor at 2am, wondering if there’s something wrong with the way you’re looking after your baby, the answer is no – you’re doing a great job. Just because your baby wakes and your friends’ babies don’t, doesn’t mean you’re any less of a brilliant mum. It’s just that baby sleep lottery thing again.
I know you’ve tried everything to make your baby sleep. I know how irritating it is when you’re showered with advice from people whose babies did sleep. It makes you want to shout I’VE TRIED THAT ALREADY!
I know you’ve tried rocking, self-settling, a strict bedtime, a non-strict bedtime, a bottle before bed, breastfeeding to sleep, dummy, no dummy, propping the cot up at an angle, co-sleeping, white noise, lullabies, baby rice, a feeding schedule, feeding on demand, book after book after book… all to no avail. It’s not your fault that none of this is working. Not. Your. Fault.
At 3am, when you’re desperate for sleep and your baby has already woken countless times – sometimes only settling for a few minutes’ at a go – I know that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get some rest. I know that you’ve read all the safe sleep advice and all you want is for your baby to sleep on her back, in her cot, but that you need sleep and no amount of safe sleep leaflets are going to persuade your baby to sleep like that in her crib. So you bring your baby into your bed, or lie her on her side, or get your partner to rock her, or leave her to cry or do whatever it is that you feel you need to do at that time of the dark, dark night in order to get just half an hour of sleep. At that time of the night, when you’re feeling slightly crazed and emotional through lack of sleep, just remember – YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB.
I know that the health visitor’s “All babies are different!” mantra is no help right now. I know that you want hard, solid answers for exactly what is causing the lack of sleep, and how to fix it. I know that you might know exactly what is causing the waking but still not found the answer to how to solve it. Just because you don’t know the answer does not mean you’re failing. You’re doing a great job and you WILL get there in the end.
And, at 3am tonight, when it feels like you’re the only one in the world who is awake and you just want to cry through exhaustion, remember – you are not alone. There are millions of us around the world all doing the same thing, looking for that winning ticket to the baby sleep lottery.
Another Knackered Mum
If you liked this post then I’d love a nomination for Best Writer or Best Family blog in the BiBs 2015! You can nominate here.