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Babies who Don’t Sleep Through

by Sarah on November 18th, 2010

My little Lilikins’ sleeping at night is all over the show again. One night she’ll wake up once, I’ll put her dummy in and she’ll sleep until the morning. Then next night she wakes up twice, once I put the dummy in, the other she’ll need a feed. And then we have nights like last night where she woke up three times, each time not going back to sleep unless I fed her. Growth spurt? Teething? Reflux? The developmental stage she’s in? Who knows! What I do know is that every now and then, the fact that she’s not sleeping through, can start to get me down.

I had coffee yesterday (well, a red cappucino, no caffeine for me!) with a very special friend and I mentioned Lily’s sleeping to her. She’s pregnant with her second bubba, and passed on some great advice that had been given to her: “Don’t expect your baby to sleep through before they turn one”. There’s that word again – expect. Like Elizabeth Pantley says, it’s all about us managing our expectations.

Lily was a better sleeper before 12 weeks than she is now. I wonder if one of the major differences back then was that I had no expectations of her sleeping. I didn’t mind how many times she woke up at night. But when her sleeping started to worsen, with her waking up more and more frequently, being harder to get back to sleep, I started to expect things to improve. I started to compare her to other babies. I started to compare myself to other moms.

Stacey gave me some other great advice: “How well a baby sleeps isn’t necessarily a reflection of how good a mom you are”. Sleeping is a biological process, influenced by so many factors, something that a baby will sort out in their own time, something that can’t necessarily be controlled.My head knows this, but my heart sometimes doesn’t feel it. It’s hard not to compare. It’s hard not to judge myself.

Since my coffee date, I’ve made a promise to myself to not expect Lily to sleep through, to just love her and comfort her when she wakes up, trusting that her sleeping will improve when she’s ready (as it did with her feeding). And I’ve also promised myself to not compare her or myself to other moms and babies. We’re on our own journey together, with our own lessons to learn, and that doesn’t make us better or worse than anyone. It’s all just part of the process.

  • http://www.jamtin.co.za Jude

    My Layla, who’s the same age as Lily, has also all of a sudden stopped sleeping through, which has horrified me. Love your advice to stop expecting them to sleep through – I know she can do it, so just have to go with the fact that something is happening at the moment (whether it’s teething, growing, reflux etc) and she’ll get back on track in her time.

  • Anonymous

    That’s exactly it, Jude. I’m hearing more and more stories about babies’
    sleeping going backwards, and so I suppose it’s all just part of their
    development. I’m still reading Our Babies, Ourselves (wrote a brief post on
    it) and I see that it has a chapter about sleep further in the book. I will
    definitely write a post about it when I get there, because I’m hoping it’s
    going to explain the biological process of sleep in more detail.

    *Sarah

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