Often, I read where moms are worried because their baby (or babies) aren’t sleeping through the night. Or that they are. Or that they were, but now aren’t. And I have heard time and time again about reading this book or that one, or this magazine, or hiring this lady, or calling this person, about helping to get a baby to sleep through the night. And everyone has their opinions on what will help. Put them in their own room. Rock them. Don’t rock them. Feed them. Don’t feed them. Play music. Don’t play music. Have a sound machine- or don’t. Keep it dark- or not. Ignore their cries. Or pat their back. Or stand upside down, drink orange juice, eat a box of oreos, jump on 1 foot, cross your eyes and sing prayers to the gods of the night that your baby will sleep through the night at 6 weeks old. Or 10 weeks. Or 4 months. Or ever.
And I want to say “whoa!”
Listen- just because I baby doesn’t sleep through the night at 6 weeks, or 10 weeks, or 4 months, or 8 months does not mean that child is NEVER going to sleep through that night. That the child will make poor grades. That the child won’t get into college and become a productive citizen.
Each baby is different. And each mom is different. IF you want your baby to sleep through the night, by all means, please read all the books, feel horrible at times, and pray that your baby is one of those that will fall into the STTN category. There’s nothing wrong with a baby sleeping through the night.
But, if you’ve had a hard time getting your baby to sleep through the night, stop beating yourself up!
It’s a BABY! Please read this. I love McKenna for this.
I’m a Psychology Major. In school, I read a lot about child development, social psychology, etc. And I try to incorporate as much as I can into how we parent.
Let me just first say, I have an incredible husband who supports me and my thoughts and decisions. He’s also very active in raising the babies when he’s home. Meaning, he will awake in the middle of the night to help feed. It’s been this way since the beginning.
Now that that is out the way.
Today, the babies turned 10 months old. (Enter small cry here…growing too fast!) They are 10 months old…
And they still sleep in our room.
Sometimes in our bed. (never all 4 together).
And they do not consistently sleep through the night.
WHAT! Shut the front door! How do you function?
Well, folks. I’m tired. Just as any new mom is tired. Let alone any new mom of quadruplets.
But, history, anthropology, tells me, that this is a short period in my life. I find I can function on way less sleep- and that quite honestly, 10 months of not sleeping through the night has just blown by.
Yes, but you are a Stay-at-home mom. You don’t have a job to go to. You can sleep when they sleep. You don’t have to get up in the morning.
Please- if you just said any of those things, consider this: I am a stay-at-home mom to quadruplets. I still have to wake up when they do- or earlier if I want to shower and get anything done. I still have to wake up at least once, sometimes twice a night to pump. Quadruplets are a full-time job. They rarely all take a nap at the exact same time for the exact amount of time—and even when they do, I have clothes, dishes, bottles to make, a house to clean, etc. It’s not like when I was working- no. When I was working, I would get emotionally tired- but I was always full of physical energy. I’d have to go to the gym to work out at night to wind down- and I would always lay awake at night, willing myself to fall asleep. Now, As soon as my head hits that pillow and there is quiet moment, I am out. Hubby jokes about me falling asleep sitting upright pumping. Yes, I’m tired. This is a full-time job. Maybe if I were back at work, it’d be a little different- or maybe not.
But the way I see it, all babies are different. I have mine on a loosely strict schedule. Meaning, I feed them when they are hungry. I try to get them to nap 2 times a day- but our life does not revolve around me making sure they are awake at 7am, nap from 9am-11am, eat, then nap again from 1pm-3pm and then down for the night at 7pm. Sorry. That doesn’t fit our schedule. Hubby works. If I had them in bed every night at exactly 7pm, he’d only get about 1-2hours a day with them awake.
Instead, they wake up when they are ready, usually around 7-8am.
They play and take a bottle- then had breakfast around 10am-1030am.
We try to nap from about 11am-1230- or 1pm. Sometimes more, sometimes less.
Then another bottle and play time.
Then maybe another nap for about an hour around 3pm.
Perhaps another bottle- then we play, go for a walk, etc.
Dinner is usually around 6 or 630pm.
Baths about 7pm.
Bottle around 730pm or 8pm- and they are put in their pack-n-plays.
But they usually get up and have special daddy time- which is just laying around on the floor with “soft” & “quiet” toys.
Final bottle is usually about 930pm-10pm.
And most nights they go down and get up once a night- granted not always at the same time.
The above is all slightly changed on days we want to leave the house. I refuse to be tied to a schedule to the point we can’t have a life. A couple days a week, I try to work out, which pushes nap time to about noon (though they cat nap in the car or the stroller- if I’m lucky).
I can’t do the Cry-it-out method. I just can’t. There’s something about hearing a baby cry that hits me at my core. That makes me sick to my stomach. I do, sometimes, have to let them fuss or complain- but when they start to cry or get upset, that’s it. They need me.
We’ll have nights, sometimes a week or so, of everyone sleeping very well at night- meaning up only once, or less, and usually up about the same time- so we aren’t waking every hour to feed another baby. Followed by a couple nights of waking up- several times a night.
Here’s what I know, even on those rough nights, when I wake up in the morning, I see the most adorable smiles, and the exhaustion is worth it.
Babies are needy. That’s biology. That’s evolution. They need me. They can’t do things for themselves. They can’t talk to tell me what they want or need.
Things I tell myself, and believe, in reasoning why I’m not pushing the “need” for babies to sleep through the night:
Other countries, ethnic groups, cultures etc. believe in co-sleeping and do not enforce sleeping through the night. Plain and simple- that means we don’t always have it right or that there is one correct way. There are many ways to parent and raise a baby. Just because Western culture says a baby needs to sleep through the night, doesn’t make it the end all.
Babies have smaller stomachs. If I wake up thirsty in the middle of the night, who am I to deny them something if they wake up? Some nights, I wake up and can chug a bottle of water—and that was before I was pregnant and breastfeeding. If my babies want to wake and drink something, I’m going to give it to them.
Teething is painful. Babies don’t know how to express that pain. They may not sleep as well while teething- or while going through growth spurts. I didn’t sleep well while I was pregnant because of the pain and discomfort. It’s ok if people wake from pain or discomfort.
Growing pains are also uncomfortable. If we’ve had a couple nights of good sleep then a night or so of little sleep- it might be a growing pain. I remember having charlie horse cramps in my legs as a child- and i would wake up in tears! Poor babies- they are growing so fast- I wouldn’t doubt they occasionally have pains and discomfort as well.
My babies are not struggling or failing behind due to not sleeping through the night. In fact, they continue to grow- all now on their actual charts (not just adjusted) and are meeting milestones for their actual age. That whole “They need to sleep 10-12hours consistently for growth and brain growth” thing- I’m calling a bluff. My babies, who have NEVER slept 12 hours straight, are quite intelligent.
And what I tell myself most: You wanted a baby. You wanted to be a mom. This is Part of being a Mom. Parenting and raising children isn’t easy.
I remind myself- this may be the ONLY time that I will be up feeding a baby. The only time I hear a cry of an infant who NEEDS me. Who wants me to hold them, comfort them, sing to them, feed them, and put them back to sleep. I’m 30 years old. This has only been going on for 9 months (they were in the hospital a month.) Am I really going to fight and say “No! You have to sleep through the night?” Absolutely not.
I’m going to cherish those moments. Even when i’m exhausted. Even when I’m cussing under my breath and wishing they’d just go back to sleep. I’m going to be grateful for those moments, because they go too fast. I’m going to miss these days. I don’t want to rush them away.
So if your baby isn’t sleeping through the night- know you aren’t alone. Of my 4 babies, each is different. Sometimes one will sleep through the night, sometimes not. I believe neither sleeping through the night nor not sleeping through the night is superior to the other. Both are just 2 different ways of parenting.
All that is not to say this is easy. Believe me, there are moments I ask the babies when they are going to sleep through the night…why don’t they love me enough to sleep?, etc. Last night was rough…tonight isn’t looking too promising…But, I’ll take it. I have 4 incredibly healthy, amazingly intelligent, well-adapted, miracles babies.
Sleep will be there. I’ll find the energy.
Until then, I’m going to cuddle these little ones..
And give my husband an extra hug and “I love you” for being so amazing.