One of the most important things for a child to get is sleep. Without enough sleep, their brain development can be stunted. They tend to be cranky and moody, and possible long term issues might arise if they constantly get less sleep then needed. Of course, this happens to adults too!
Babies are affected: Sleep Deprivation in Babies
Adults are affected: Sleep Loss in Adults
Sleep Training and How We did it:
I can say confidently, WE ARE NOT SLEEP DEPRIVED ANYMORE.
When Lillian was younger, about four months old, we started sleep training. She was in a bassinet or slept with us (when no other sleep could be accomplished) until we deemed her ready for a crib.
She cried for about an hour the first three nights. A few more nights of whining after that and soon she was sleeping alone like a champ. Of course, there would be nights when she would cry, but she always calmed down and got good sleep. I was in an a panic half of the time during the first few nights, thinking she would hate us forever for making her so upset. (I was completely wrong.) Sometimes I would stand at her door, (we left it mostly closed) listening in to make sure she was really okay. We would check on her every now and then, but we also had a video monitor which was very helpful when she got older. I can admit, without my extremely insightful husband, I would have just slept with her. It’s not easy hearing your baby cry like that, but in the long run and for her health, it was the best way.
She now takes naps and sleeps in her crib wonderfully. Some nights she even asks to go to bed. Without sleep training and enduring those hard nights, she would not be as adapted to ‘night-night’ time. Not everyone can do it the way we did, but I recommend training your baby to get used to sleeping alone. Not only does she get better sleep, I get better sleep. My husband gets better sleep, and all of us are not grumpy when we wake up. Now, at 22 months old, she won’t even take a nap with me (which we used to do before she turned one). She just tosses and turns and whines until I put her in her own bed with her baby doll lovey. I get a little sad that my baby is really growing up, but it’s good that she likes her own bed.
It’s great! No more worrying about sleep.
Societal and Social Stigmas:
These are placed on many parents, and some parents (depending on how they grew up or who they associate with) are more prone to listen to these stigmas. Sometimes that means striving to make all social occasions whether it be partying or family gatherings. Sometimes it’s putting a parent’s want over a child’s need (like skipping nap-time because of a previously planned engagement).
The pressure felt it real, but physical and mental health (especially for the child) are more important. It does no good to take a screaming baby out to a party and expect to have a good time. I mention this because a lot of people in my generation (I suppose we are referred to as ‘millennials’) are trying to do everything all at once: get the great career, get the great house, the great partner, the great baby, the great whatever, all while bringing the baby along to a drinking soiree with a few fellow baby-mama’s at 8P.M. when the baby should really be asleep. (This is just an example of one circumstance that could arise.)
I used to be there- hoping that I could live my own life while also giving proper care to a baby, but all I found was failure. In truth, I was being selfish. I was not able to party all night, then get up at 5A.M. with a baby (if she had slept all night) and be the best mom during my day as a SAHM. It was not healthy, and it was not conducive to my relationships. I started getting over-tired and down right depressed. I didn’t like living that way, and maybe some people can do it? But being a parent doesn’t only involve posting pictures and chatting about how awesome the baby is, it’s more- so much more.
I choose to spend most of my time with my husband and my toddler because I love them and I love me. My values and my priorities have changed since I tried to be a party-person and a good-mom all at once. Both is not possible, and that’s okay. Frankly, I find that it’s good, at least for me. I try to remember that preconceived notions about parenthood are often incorrect. I didn’t know how difficult being a parent could be. I was unaware a colicky baby meant crying for hours and hours with no reprieve. I was unaware that taking care of a human being would take so much out of me.
I was also unaware that I would gain so much insight and so much love.
Lillian is worth all of the turmoil I personally went through, whether that be mentally or physically. And without all of the personal work I have done during this journey, I would not be this content presently. I am always working towards my values, and trying my hardest to not get upset when things just don’t go my way. Life often doesn’t go the way we wanted, and that is okay too.