There he is, my first celebrity crush. I remember this poster hung on my closet door and each night I would climb my stool to kiss him goodnight! Still to this day, “Thriller” is one of my favorite albums. Since then I have had several other crushes: Joey from New Kids on the Block, Elvis, James Dean, Leonardo DeCaprio. Now as an adult I don’t have many crushes…except for one. My celeb crush looks a little different today. He is not in the company of my past music and television star crushes. He’s an author, a counselor and therapist of sorts. Who might it be? Wait for it……wait for it…..My adult celebrity crush is….Dr. Marc Weissbluth! Who is Dr. Weissbluth? WHO is Dr. Weissbluth? He just so happens to be the man that brought sanity back into my life after 7 long months of sleepless nights. He is the man that taught me how to appreciate something I once took for granted. He is the man that helped me to accomplish what felt to be impossible. Dr. Weissbluth authored the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. The book that saved me! And there is no appreciation like that of a mother who finally catches some zzzZZZs!
I have since recommended that book to several friends. His methods haven’t worked for all of them. In fact through their trial and error I have been introduced to different sleep techniques that have also benefited my children and I. And if I have learned nothing else in the past 7 years, I learned that there is no “one size fits all” sleep method. In fact, there isn’t even a “one size fits most” sleep method. So I am sorry to disappoint if you came to this blog hoping to find the “secret”. I don’t have it…but neither does anyone else.
Every baby and child is different. And the way they sleep just might be more of a reflection of their personality than your parenting. Like many parenting issues (discipline, potty training) sleep is one that has to be researched, tried and tried again, much like a puzzle that may take several attempts to complete. There are many options out there to offer you help: books, blogs, websites, sleep consult services. If you so desire help, it’s easy to find. The tricky part is finding what works for you and your child. Now the mother of 3, experience has taught me a few things about infants and sleep. Some lessons were learned harder than others, but all are valuable and I hope they can help you too.
1. It is important to understand babies’ sleep cycles and how they differ from adult sleep cycles. This knowledge will help you recognize when your baby is in a light sleep vs. a deeper sleep (i.e. when it is safe to lay them down without waking them up!). You should also familiarize yourself with how much sleep your child requires for their age to keep your expectations reasonable and real!
|Age||Nighttime Sleep||Daytime Sleep *||Total Sleep|
|1 month||8||8 (inconsistent)||16|
|3 months||10||5 (3)||15|
|6 months||11||3 1/4 (2)||14 1/4|
|9 months||11||3 (2)||14|
|12 months||11 1/4||2 1/2 (2)||13 3/4|
|18 months||11 1/4||2 1/4 (1)||13 1/2|
|2 years||11||2 (1)||13|
|3 years||10 1/2||1 1/2 (1)||12|
|*Note: number of naps in parentheses|
2. Do what you are comfortable with. If a sleep method suggests letting your baby “cry it out” and you just can’t imagine doing that, than don’t do it. I wanted to try co-sleeping with my infant, I longed for the extra bonding at the end of the day, but my husband said no. He is a heavy sleeper and feared rolling over on her and suffocating her. Bottom line is you have to do what helps you sleep better at night too. After all, what good is a baby who sleeps 8 hours if you lie awake feeling guilty about how you got there!
3. It’s normal for babies (and toddlers, preschoolers and even older children) to wake up in the night. Eventually your infant will sleep through, I promise! Typically this occurs between 6 and 12 months of age. But even after you have achieved this milestone, other milestones, like teething pain and illness, may cause them to wake. It is even thought that when babies learn to crawl and walk, they awaken in order to “practice” their new skills. Then as toddlers and preschoolers night awakenings may occur because of separation anxiety and night terrors, all of which are developmentally appropriate. My 6 year old has even been known to invade my bed in the wee hours of the morning because of a bad dream. So, just know that tackling the sleep problem with your infant doesn’t mean it’s over. My best advice to you is to squeeze in a nap when you can because you never know what the night may hold!
4. Remember, it’s not your fault your baby wakes up! In fact there are developmental benefits to night awakenings especially in the first few months of life when infants wake to feed. Your baby’s sleep habits are more a reflection of his/her temperament than your parenting. And when comparing sleep stories with other parents, keep in mind that most parents will exaggerate to make themselves look and feel good. A baby that sleeps through the night is not indicative of “good parenting”. So, go easy on yourself!