When the (Sleep) Books Just Don’t Work

By the time Audrey was 4 weeks old, I had a pile of infant sleep books that stretched probably twice as long as her little body.

And none of them (really) helped.

Looking back, I can see what tips would (and would not) have been helpful, but what I primarily remember from those early days is frustration. And lots of tears.

I read all about wonderful, predictable infant sleep schedules in routines, about putting your baby down for a nap in the crib 1 hour after waking, about not making baby dependent on nursing or rocking or swinging to fall asleep. About following a baby’s sleep cues (Audrey didn’t have them) and having predictable time to yourself while baby slept.

But what I had was a baby who wanted to nurse to fall asleep.  A baby that woke up like clockwork 20 minutes after I laid her down (asleep!  A big no no!) for her nap.  A baby that woke every 45-60 minutes at night.  A baby who would scream for an hour as I rocked her, swaddled, feeling like a failure because I could not comfort my child and because I could not get her to stick to the schedule.

I cried because my baby would not sleep and I cried because she wouldn’t follow the books.

I cry now because I wish I had thrown the books out the window (retaining a few helpful tips, first) and just nursed and held and treasured the sweet newborn days with my little one.

But I wonder if there are other mamas out there who are in the exact same place I was.  Trying so desperately to do this mothering thing well, to follow The Books. But they are failing.

You know what, it is—and will be–okay. Read a few helpful tips and then follow your instinct about what works best for you and your baby and your family.  Buy a swing or a bouncer or a carrier and let your little one sleep where he or she sleeps best. If you can, reach out to some experienced fellow moms and ask for their advice.

But don’t blame your little one for not following The Books.  You know what?  Children weren’t made to be controlled by books, but to be known and cared for and loved.

You’re doing a great job, mama.  Keep it up.

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