As parents, we all know that sleep became a thing of the past when our children were born. As soon as these beautiful, helpless creatures enter the world, our lives revolve around them, and that includes at night. Many parents are continuously concerned about the sleep patterns of their babies or children, wondering if what they are going through is normal, or if they are doing anything wrong. The truth is, little ones are constantly growing and changing, and so are their sleep habits. We should do our best to support the changes, and work with them to keep things flowing smoothly. Some parents wonder if some form of sleep training is necessary, or find themselves comparing their child to other children and they become impatient. The fact is that all children are different, and we should never try to push them into convenience.
I am very against “ferberizing” or “cry it out” methods to get babies to bend to the wills of their parents to sleep at a certain time and in a certain way. So many people are pressured into doing this by the people around them who are saying that their children have slept through the night since a certain age (failing to mention that they most likely used some type of sleep training to get them to do so), and the many people who think that kids should be made to be convenient. Babies are naturally built to wake in the middle of the night to eat so that they can continue to grow rapidly and become big and healthy. Babies are never constant, they are always learning something new, reaching new milestones, and changing in many ways. Beyond all of this, babies always wake up for a reason. They are not capable of “manipulating” in any way, and they are not capable of communicating through words. They communicate through crying, and they cry to have their needs met, which means not responding to their cries is basically the same as not responding to their needs.
Most times night waking tends to be based around hunger, and let me first say that I have heard all of the medical recommendations that baby no longer “needs” to eat past this age or weight. Many parents that receive this advice are then convinced that their children are not hungry
, which is a very different thing than not needing
to eat! What this really means is that if you refuse to feed your child when they are hungry at night, they will not be harmed. They will still survive and even thrive without eating at night. However, most babies are still hungry during the night for quite some time after they no longer need to eat at night. I feel that if I were hungry, I would hope someone might feed me even if I would survive without it. I personally cannot ever let my child cry in hunger, not even at night when I’d rather be sleeping.
Aside from the basic hunger needs, night waking can be due to a number of other possibilities. It could be a change that needs to be made in the baby’s sleep routine throughout the day. It could be teething, an ear infection, a tummy ache, or any other medical problem that you may not have come to realize yet. It could even be as simple as loneliness or fear, or the need to be held close to someone for comfort. I consider those needs as well, that I am required to meet, as a mother. As kids get older, chances are it will happen much less, but still kids might wake you up for things like illness, thirst, or a need to use the bathroom.
No one baby is the same. Some are much better sleepers than others. My older son woke every two to three hours until he was eight months old, and then he finally started waking only three to four times a night without me doing any kind of sleep training. At 11 months, he went down to twice a night all on his own, followed by only once a night at 13 or 14 months old. It wasn’t until he was close to two years old that he no longer woke at all for a bottle or a sippy cup. However, to this day he occasionally wakes up for something. Sometimes he is thirsty, needs to go potty, or he had a bad dream. Even big kids will still sometimes need you at night. Hold those babies close and be there for them when they need you while you can, because someday they wont want you at night at all anymore and you will be wishing for that time back!