“If I hear about another baby sleeping through the night, I just might scream!” I saw someone post that on facebook and I can completely sympathize. Having a baby that not only won’t go back to sleep, but will deprive you of your own sleep makes you feel frustrated and alone, and like no one understands what you are going through. Dealing with a sleepless baby is like dealing with a sweet nightmare, and whenever it feels like you’re the only one with a sleepless baby, rest assured, you are not alone!
Even babies who are wonderful sleepers still go through sleepless nights. Night-waking can happen when babies are going through teething, colic, colds, or sometimes just because. One thing to remember is that it is completely normal for babies to awaken at night, even babies that are excellent sleepers. However what distinguishes an excellent sleeper versus a baby with a sleep problem is their ability to sooth themselves back to sleep, without the help of their parents.
Alyssa was around six months old when it had happened. We had just switched her from sleeping in the bassinet and into her crib when she started to wake up several times a night. One day it had dawned on me that I was going to her five to six times a night to put her back to sleep, and the only way to put her back was to give her the breast. She refused to take the pacifier, she refused to fall asleep in her crib, and would wake up unhappy, causing me little sleep and much stress. I found myself feeling very depressed. I was doing something wrong. Alyssa wasn’t getting much sleep and I was really not sure what to do about it. I found myself going to the book store and looking up information about babies and sleep. I called my husband that day with my discovery. “Alyssa has a sleeping problem.” As soon as I said it, it made me feel better.
Sharing the burden with my husband really helped me feel more secure, and together we found the solution to our problem. We knew that we were not comfortable with the “let them cry it out” method, so we read and researched other methods that we were comfortable with. In the end we stopped Alyssa’s night feeds, and began to put her to sleep in her bed. It was a battle. We played her music and patted her butt, and had an excellent bedtime routine each night that would trigger sleep. It took about four nights but finally Alyssa had learned to love to sleep in her own bed. By eight months she was sleeping all through the night. This didn’t mean that she never woke up at night again; we still had stretches where she would wake up at night, and nights where we were taking turns going to her, however, the main thing that changed was that she loved falling asleep in her own bed and waking up in it.
Night-wakings happen with all babies, the main thing to remember is that it is very common and very normal and that they can be overcome with time, patience and excellent coping skills.