‘The first 6 weeks are the hardest, it’ll get easier after that.’
‘My babies all slept well after three months, the fourth trimester is such hard work. It will get better.’
‘6 months was the golden time for us. Introducing solids seemed to help a lot. It will get better.’
’12 months saw it get so much better for my guy. Something just clicked. It will get better.’
’18 months, our baby slept through for the first time! I promise, it will get better.’
‘At 2, our babe started toddling off to bed at nap time. It will get better.’
It will get better, it really will, but I remember clearly hearing all these arbitrary points in time being peddled out to me with my first and I used to have to really regroup as each of these ‘finish lines’ or ‘lights at the end of the sleep deprived tunnel’ passed without so much as a hint of my baby sleeping better.
Each time, I’d feel the doubts creep in. The frustration rise. The worries that it would always be so and WHEN would it end?!?
It’s funny that although this caused me much angst and frustration in my own experience, I catch myself promoting this kind of benchmark thinking both in real life and in my blog. I’ve had to ask myself why.
I’m thinking the reason we do this stems from a very good place. It comes from empathy, it comes from wanting to support mothers who are currently in the midst of this incredibly challenging weary time in our lives and wanting to be able to offer them some relief and encouragement. ‘This too shall pass’ is the mother’s mantra but never had I heard more frustrating words than hearing those words while I lived day in day out with the kind of sleep deprivation that can only be described as torture and with no light at the end of the tunnel, I swear I felt like I might just drown. And so, the kind hearted people around me who keenly felt my struggle and knew what I’d been through already with my little firecracker would try to offer me the comfort of an end point …
The end point they offer is all so relative to their own experience though and what they call ‘better’ is not necessarily what you or I would call ‘better’ and so the confusion, frustration and worry continues.
‘If so and so’s baby slept through from 3 months, why is our little treasure still waking every 2 hours?!’ Or ‘So and so’s baby slept through once he had crawling mastered. She’s been crawling for months now and still we can’t get more than 3 hours straight .’ Or ‘Mum said, that molars can be really rough on sleep, but he’s had his for a month now, what else is going on?!?’
Nothing is wrong with any of these statements per se, for some babies, there does seem to be a magical wand moment where ‘zipadeedee fidalee fa’ suddenly the sleep seems to settle. Teething, milestones such as crawling, walking and talking, separation anxiety, the incredible physical growth of our babies during the first 2 years or so of their life is remarkable and ever so disruptive to their sleep. BUT, it honestly does not help anyone to compare what one baby did and when their sleep improved and make any kind of assumption about your own child’s unique sleep pattern.
It’s unfair on them but also, it is ever so unfair on you.
YOUR baby couldn’t give a toss about what little Joe Blogs did after he mastered crawling, nor how easily he sprouted teeth without so much as a hiccup in the night.
THEY will ultimately decide when they are ready and physically able to sleep more easily and for longer stints at night.
My little Grubby Bubby turns 1 in a week and I can tell you how much ‘better’ his sleep is than it was as a newborn but I can also tell you how much ‘worse’ it is than when he was 3 months. I can tell you how much ‘better’ it is to be able to pop him down for his naps than it was for the months he only slept on my chest. I can tell you how much ‘better’ it is now he only needs 2 naps a day instead of 5. I can tell you how much ‘better’ he is to settle at night now with a quick boob and he rolls as far from me as he can. But I can also tell you that at his ‘worst’ he can wake every 40 minutes all night.
Overall, things ARE better, but at 12 months, after a full year of giving, I think many of us really thought we’d be further down the sleep track then we are. I know, I too wish it were so.
But, I think at this time, it’s important to give pause. Yes, there is a candle on the cake that wasn’t there last month, but apart from that nothing has changed, no incredible birthday leap into independence occurred. Our baby may now be a toddler but they are still babies.
They have come such a long way, WE have come such a long way with them. Let’s not let our weariness overcome us.
They still need us as intensely as they did yesterday, they are still undergoing enormous physical and mental growth and they STILL only need us this intensely for such a short time in the grand picture of life.
Keep faith in your baby, keep faith in yourself.
You ARE getting there. Every settle, every nurse, every cuddle, every wake up is one less time your baby will need you so.
Let’s reset again, tired mama. Things WILL get better but this is the here and now. Focus on this time with your baby, they won’t always need you so. Xxx
Here are some articles to help you understand why your 12-24 month old may be still waking-
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