I Appreciate Your (Endless) Sleep Suggestions. But They Don't Work

But I'm THRILLED to hear your three-month-old is a great sleeper . . .

I recently wrote an article entitled I Love Putting My Kid To Bed. There, I Said It.

In it, I talked about my transition from nightmare bedtime—where I was desperate to get to the other side so I could pour a glass of wine and binge on my TV shows—to chats and snuggles with my daughter becoming the best part of my day. 

Warning: don't be fooled by my last blog post.

A friend wrote to me to say that my bedtime routine sounded ‘magical’. 

And when I texted my sister in law today to tell her that I’d had enough of the sleepless nights she texted back saying, “I just read your blog. I thought you loved no sleep? LOL.” 

So let’s just get this straight. As mentioned previously, I LOVE to sleep. I also love the bedtime banter and moments I now share with my five-year-old daughter. The time when secrets are revealed, stories are told and cuddles are endless. 

But let’s cut short that fairy tale because I also have a five-month-old at home and since day one she has never slept through the night. 

Am I the only one? No. Are there other moms who have children who sleep through the night? You bet there are. 

“At three months she was doing 6-7 hour stretches with a late bedtime and then by the time she was 5-6 months she was sleeping 10-11 hours overnight and still does. Sorry if you didn't want to hear that,” my friend text me today. 

And as much as it did bring a tear to my eye—since the thought of a full night of sleep feels like such a dream—it still gave me hope to know it’s possible. 

I’m not mad or upset though. Just envious. Maybe even desperate enough to have her come over and put my daughter to bed as if she were her own, just to see what I am doing wrong . . .

But truthfully, after reading almost every sleep book on the market and consulting endless websites and articles, I don't think there is anything I am doing wrong. It’s just not going right.

You see, there is no magical recipe to children and sleep, for if there were, we would all walk around with permanent grins on our faces and dark circle correctors would go out of business.

Sadly what works for one, doesn't work for another and really after one child who was hands down a brutal sleeper, this time I am just rolling with the punches and realizing that my kids are beautiful, bright and smart, but when it comes to sleeping, we won’t qualify for a medal.

“You need to give her cereal,” my lovely cleaning lady once told me. “Back in Poland when I was little we pretty much had it right away. Even in our bottles. Your daughter can’t sleep because she’s hungry. Think how you feel when you have nothing to eat all day. You can’t live on just liquids.”

I politely nodded and thought, maybe she was right.

Then I had a good friend tell me, “Get her a sleep sack. She probably can’t get cozy at night and when she flails her arms and legs it’s waking her up. A sleep sack will make her feel cozy.”

Again I took this wisdom to heart and thought, maybe she was right.

The list of suggestions and feedback are endless. And to be honest, I am so tired and desperate that I’ve pretty much tried every one.

But do you know the outcome? None of them have worked. Not a single one.

Why? Am I a bad mom? Is my house haunted and therefore my children can’t sleep through the night? Did I do something terrible to someone at sleepover camp when I was younger that this is coming back to bite me now?

I don't think so. I think it is just my children.

My five-year-old, for example, woke up pretty much every two hours until I caved and did the sleep training when she turned six months. The routine involved me sleeping on a mattress on her bedroom floor; the first night was spent shhhing, patting her back and using gentle phrases to reassure her that I was there without letting her see me and without picking her up. The second night was the same thing but no more touching through the crib rails. Both nights were brutal and I cried as much as she did, but by the third night, she slept through the night. Seven until seven.

I checked a few times to make sure she was still breathing because I couldn't believe it.

Was it the sleep training method or just good timing? Who knows.

From then on she did continue to sleep through the night (with plenty of hiccups along the way), but I would never say she was a great sleeper. It took a lot of hard work and tears from both of us to get there.

So now, on the eve of my second daughter’s six month birthday, I am creeping into the room to sleep on a mattress as soon as I am finished writing this. We are alone in the house so her cries do not wake my daughter or husband, both of whom are nestled in at my in-laws.

Here goes. I have nothing to lose—except a bit more sleep.

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