The next blogger in my guest post series is the incredibly talented Kate;
Kate writes a beautiful blog, Counting To Ten where she writes about life with her small people aged 5 and 1 and the days out they take.
Her blog is packed with stunning photography and wonderfully created Children’s craft ideas too that leave me feeling inspired and envious in equal measure.
You can also find Kate here:
Is It My Fault My Baby Won’t Sleep?
Nothing makes me feel as much of a failure as a parent as my daughters sleep habits. I say daughters, because neither of my girls have been great sleepers. I love sleep and can’t get enough so it can’t be genetic. I must have done something wrong. Their bad sleep must be my fault.
My eldest daughter was a pretty rubbish sleeper from day 1. I remember in the early days she seemed to wake up crying every time my head hit the pillow. I never knew how long I would be allowed to sleep for. Over time it improved and although she would wake a couple of times a night at a year old it was ok.
My second daughter was a great sleeper for a newborn. Ok so we had a few nights where I was awake all night when my milk was coming in, but she did pretty decent stretches. Around 3 months old we had some 6 hour stretches and she would wake only twice some nights. Fantastic I thought. Then the 4 month sleep regression hit.
At 4 months babies go through a developmental phase and one of the changes affects their sleep cycles. It’s a pretty nasty regression and “sleep experts” warn that bad habits introduced will cause problems once the regression is over. I didn’t think continuing to feed my baby to sleep, or rocking her, would be a bad habit.
Little is now 11 months old and for the past 7 months she hasn’t slept for more than a 4 hour block. A good night for us starts with a 3 hour block and then there are wake ups every couple of hours. To survive I take her into bed with me on that first wake up and she is on and off my breast for the rest of the night. I might not get the best quality sleep like this, but I get enough sleep to function most nights.
It is normal for babies to wake once or twice a night at a year old. Waking every other hour, or more often, isn’t normal. I have recently had to accept that my youngest daughter has a sleep problem, but what caused it?
Is it because I normally breastfeed her to get her to sleep?
Is it because we co-sleep most of the night?
Is it because I haven’t put her in the cot awake? (She would normally cry whenever I did that and I don’t want to leave her in the cot crying).
Is it because of my diet? Should I cut out dairy? Caffeine? Green veg? Biscuits?
What can I do to get her to sleep better?
Should I night wean her and just hold her for hours while she cries? There are nights I need a break so her Dad and I try rocking her, bouncing, cuddling, and sometimes it works. For about 5 minutes.
Should I put her on formula? Ok she won’t take a bottle and there is little reliable evidence that babies sleep better on formula but it might work.
Should I change my diet?
Should I take her to a osteopath? A homeopath? A magician?
Should I sleep hanging off the ceiling like a bat?
There are so many choices, but I don’t want her to be upset. I need to be able to sleep so I can function. I would love to have some time in the evenings too. What should I do? If I caused the problem, there must be a way I can fix it.
Everyone offers different advice, and I try, but I suspect I will keep slipping back in to my habit of feeding her to sleep so that she falls asleep without tears. When she wakes I will pick her up from her cot and cuddle her to me. I will keep wondering how I can make things better and where I went wrong. Why when I have followed all the good attachment parenting advice did it all go wrong? Why did responding to my baby’s needs and preventing her from getting upset lead to me giving her a sleep problem?
Answers on a postcard.
Don’t forget to pop over and visit Kate’s blog Counting To Ten to see what else she is writing about!