When you bring a tiny human into the world it turns out, there’s no manual with the kid.
Whether your baby comes preterm like mine did, or exactly on your due date, or has to be evicted because he is just too comfy kicking your bladder, it’s a bit overwhelming becoming a new parent, or even adding your second or third or fifth!
Each baby is different, and it would be so nice if they would come out with a little “how-to” summary to help guide us through the struggles of breastfeeding, the sleep deprivation of overnight feedings and diaper changes, the stress of teething, and the mile long list of all the things that can and will happen throughout your baby’s life.
But no such luck. Of course not, because that would be too easy!
Luckily, there’s this handy-dandy thing that I absolutely believe is one of the best “tools” a mother can use…her mommy intuition.
Even while my son was in the NICU, nurses told me that I knew my baby better than anyone else in that hospital.
He is my flesh and blood. I am with him every day.
I know that Cry A means he is hungry, but Cry B means he is in pain, while Cry C means he is afraid.
I know his little ticks, tricks, and all the little nuances that make my son who he is.
In saying all of this, I don’t want you to think that just because I know my son better than anyone (excluding my husband, of course) I am a perfect parent and my son is never upset.
Sometimes he throws himself down on the floor and screams, and I have no clue what’s wrong. Sometimes he fights sleep and pulls on my hair and bites my shoulder and even though I know he is exhausted, I don’t know how to get him to go to sleep.
I make absolutely no claim to be anywhere near perfect. I’m learning every second of every day, now to be a better mother for my son.
I ask friends and family for help. I rock my son in the dark at 1:00am crying with him, because I’ve already given him Tylenol and numbing gel for his incoming molars and I already changed his diaper and I already gave him a midnight snack and I already made sure he wasn’t too hot or too cold, yet still he screams, and I have not the slightest clue what to do.
My baby will not go to bed at night and bedtime is a 3 hour screamfest every night. What do I do?
Remember how I said that every baby is different? That’s where the problem comes in for asking for help. For every 5 people you ask for help or advice, you will get 8 different responses.
Enjoy him being little and rock him to sleep every night!
If he starts screaming, leave him in his crib for 20 minutes. Don’t come back a minute sooner or he’ll never learn to self soothe!
Never let him cry, it’ll do psychological damage and hurt him in the long run!
He knows you love him, just shut his door and let him cry himself to sleep.
Give him a bottle when he cries and he’ll go right back down.
Don’t let him become dependent on bottles and milk because then he’ll develop an unhealthy relationship with food as he gets older.
Set a strict and early bed time, so you are putting him to bed before he realizes he is tired and he don’t fight so hard.
He should go to sleep when he is tired, whether it’s 7 or 9:30. He’ll get on a schedule later when he’s not growing and developing so much.
My husband and I went through a struggle where our son would go to sleep every night at about 6:30 or 7. He would sleep for about an hour, then he was wide awake screaming for no apparent reason, other than he didn’t want to be in bed.
We tried everything listed above, and then some.
We couldn’t rock him back to sleep every time, because we would literally be in his room for hours. The second we’d stop rocking or even think about putting him in his crib, his little head would shoot up and he was wide awake again.
We gave him bottles, but he ended up just drinking until he was over full and uncomfortable, or he just wouldn’t take them at all.
We enforced an early bedtime, we let him stay awake until 9 or 10 at night.
None of the advice seemed to be working and we were both at our wits end. We were waking up to a screaming child every hour or two and then struggling for another hour or two to get him back to sleep. It was nonstop, worse than the newborn stage, and we were both ready to rip our hair out.
Finally, we started a sort of “cry it out” method. Putting him for initially wasn’t the issue, but when he woke up an hour later, we went in and turned his music machine on (it runs on a 20 minute loop). Then we would pat his back (my son is a tummy sleeper) and quietly “shhhhh” until he calmed down, or two lullaby songs played.
Then, we left and set a timer on our phones for 20 minutes, before we were allowed to go back in.
At first, it took the regular 1 1/2 to 2 hours for him to go back to sleep. Slowly though, he started going back to sleep sooner and sooner.
One night, I remember waking up to him making some noise and the monitor going off. I rolled over and saw him lift his head in bed, look around, flop over, and go back to sleep all on his own.
I was in shock, and so happy!
He slept really well until we took a trip to visit my family in California, which threw off his schedule due to the two hour time difference.
After our trip, we came back home and started working on getting him back to his regular routine again, and then his molars started coming in.
If anyone has experienced babies cutting their molars, they know exactly how awful, terrible, excruciating of a time it is.
If your baby’s molars came in without a problem, I am forever jealous of your luck, because it has been the suckiest of all the sucky things I have dealt with as a mother.
Back to my point though.
When my son started getting his molars in, he couldn’t sleep well anymore which meant neither did I.
Again, he was awake every couple of hours screaming, even if it was too soon for me to give him any medicine. Even now, his molars aren’t quite all through yet and he’s still having some issues at night. He’s been waking up almost like clock work at 3, and doesn’t go back to sleep until 5, all the while he is gnawing like a madman on his fingers, the crib, his lovey, whatever he can shove into his mouth.
I ran through all the advice I had ever been given about teething and sleep. Then, I realized… I know what is wrong (this time). His teeth are hurting him, so he’s in pain, and he wants so love on his mommy and daddy.
Sure enough, I picked him up one morning just after 3am, and as soon as we sat in the rocking chair together, he calmed dramatically and started breathing easier. I was able to rock him back to sleep and get back to my own bed sooner than if I trued my usual routine.
Not only are babies all different from one another, but their needs change as they get older and come in to different phases of their life.
What I had been doing successfully for so long, didn’t work anymore. I had to do something else, and really had to follow my mommy intuition.
I knew that during the day when his teeth were bothering him, he just wanted to be held. On more than one occasion I sat on the floor with him on my chest, and he fell asleep; and it wasn’t even nap time.
So, Mommas (and Daddies!), while baby books are great, and asking for advice can give you wonderful ideas you may never have thought to try on your own…follow your instincts, too.
When your baby just isn’t taking to solids/purees, don’t freak out! Yes, there might be something off developmentally, or she could just be telling you that she’s not ready yet and she needs a little more time and patience.
When something seems off but you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is, don’t feel silly for taking him in to the pediatrician!
I’ve taken my son in a few times because something was “off” and it turns out he had an ear infection or a stomach virus or some other ailment just about every single time!
You know your babies.
Accept advice and help, sure, but don’t ever underestimate your mommy intuition.