After months (and months and months… 15 to be exact) of “trouble” with Graham’s sleep, I’ve finally figured it out. And, honestly, I’m kind of embarrassed it’s taken me this long.
This whole time, I was worried about why he didn’t sleep as well as other babies. I was worried about what house guests thought of my parenting skills when they heard him wake up in the middle of the night at an age when most babies were sleeping fine. I avoided the subject of sleep with other moms who I thought might be judging me. Graham woke at least once a night (with a few miraculous exceptions) until he was a year old, and for the last three months he’s woken up at least a couple times a week in the middle of the night.
We tried every trick in the book. I asked friends, relatives, random people (I wish I was kidding). I read articles and books, talked again and again with Jon, and all the while I was oblivious to the real answer, which also happens to be the best answer to 99% of the toughest parenting questions: just do what works. It’s OK if your kid isn’t like every other kid and you shouldn’t feel bad about him being different.
As with most things involving kids, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. In this case, Graham is a comfort nurser and has always HATED having a wet diaper. This combination meant that when he woke up wet in the middle of the night he got upset and needed to nurse to get back to sleep.
Fast forward a few months and I’m finally at the point where I can nurse him for a few minutes, put him in his crib awake, leave, and have him (usually) sleep through the night. This is huge for us and (here’s the kicker) it only started happening when he was ready. All those months of wondering what I was doing wrong, and the only thing I was actually doing wrong was not noticing that this stage would come and go like all the others have and will – in its own time. He wasn’t falling asleep nursing anymore, so I tried putting him down and laying next to his crib while he fell asleep. After a few nights, he was able to fall asleep without me being right there.
So if you’re an exhausted mom or dad and feel like you must be missing something that everyone else just gets, stop Googling your question for a minute and know that you’re doing just fine. Your child might just need to do things his own way.