As a sleep expert, and a mom, I’m often asked whether my daughter is a good sleeper and, whether I practice what I preach. Luckily, my daughter has always been a great sleeper, but much of that is due to her. She was an easy baby and to this day she continues to be incredibly sweet. She was born that way. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t face difficult bedtimes or the occasional sleepless night. Whether it was due to illness, traveling schedules, or just “because,” babies are babies, and babies often have problems sleeping.
As a very young baby our daughter slept in an infant seat, similar to a “rock and play.” The seat had handles and my husband spent many an hour swinging that seat back and forth when she just wouldn’t fall asleep on her own. Back and forth. Back and forth. He developed great arm muscles! As she got older, she outgrew the seat so there were nights of him rocking her or my nursing her for hours, especially when she was sick and not feeling well.
But throughout it all, we were always sticklers for having a bedtime routine, which started with a bath and ended with reading. When she was a baby we read Goodnight Moon every single night. And I mean every single night! As she got older, the books changed. We moved on to chapter books. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a favorite. To this day, she still takes a shower and reads before turning out the light. We all cherished those times. Not only were they some of the best parts of our day, but they helped her get a good night’s sleep.
But those sleepless nights were tough, and they helped me understand the challenges faced by all parents. I knew that I was in real trouble when one time, after a particularly long week of sleep deprivation, I couldn’t find my glasses. I had just gotten in my car and I couldn’t find my glasses anywhere. A search of the car; a search of the house. No glasses anywhere. I was frantic. Lo and behold, they were perched on top of my head the entire time. It’s often the little moments, whether it is “losing” our glasses or leaving the car keys in the refrigerator while unpacking groceries that makes us really realize that we are not functioning due to a lack of sleep.
Yes, it happens to all of us! Sleepless nights with our babies. Sleepless nights ourselves.
Jodi A. Mindell, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Saint Joseph's University
Associate Director, Sleep Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Author, Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep
I am a contributor for JOHNSON’S®, the sponsor of this community, and compensated for travel and attendance at events. Every idea and word written is my own.
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