I write a lot about sleep on this blog (proof of which is here, here, and here), and even though I think new moms (myself included) are a bit too obsessed with a baby’s sleep schedule, I’m going to write about it again. But this time, with a bit of hindsight at 20/20.
Before having a baby, I knew very little about baby sleep beyond what I read in the standard baby books. I knew, in the abstract, that I’d be getting very little sleep, at least for the first few months.
When trying to get a baby on a schedule, everything revolves around naps. It makes sense, as naps should take place at home, and they’re the block of time when I could get literally anything else done. I felt like it was my job to keep Izzy on schedule, and thus, I felt like it was my job to make her sleep.
And this is where I’d like a do-over. Now that she’s sleep-trained and falling asleep on her own, I realize: It’s not our jobs as parents to make our babies sleep; rather, it’s our job to teach them how to sleep. It’s our job to give them the tools (a sleep-inducing environment, for one) and the space to learn this important skill. It’s easy to look back now and spot some of my mistakes (rushing into her room at the first sound of stirring, or putting her down in her crib completely 100% asleep instead of awake or drowsy). At the time, I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing as a mom: rocking my baby until she drifted off to dreamland. But I realize that it was probably doing more harm than good, and I think we even reached a point where she wanted to be put down and to do it herself, and I ignored those cues entirely.
Of course, every baby is different, which is what makes “researching” this topic so endlessly frustrating. What worked for Izzy won’t necessarily work for another baby, and vice versa. And I’m sure there’s plenty of sleep regressions ahead of us, plus teething, plus random days where she’s possessed by sleep-stealing elves or something. But we finally got to a good place — a place where I’m not as obsessed with her schedules as I used to be, and I feel like we can actually enjoy our “awake” time together. Maybe one day I’ll miss rocking her to sleep, but I know I won’t miss her screaming, fussing, and protesting the entire time. TBH, who could really miss that?