Whether you're a first time parent or a 5th time parent, every kid is different. My first son slept terribly as an infant. He was gassy, fussy, and wanted to be held at all times. The minute I'd put him down he was back in my arms within seconds.
Needless to say, I was in search of the perfect sleep, and anything that would aid in my success. You know, the kind your friends tell you about. The perfect swaddle, the perfect formula, the perfect pacifier, the perfect music, and following the perfect advice.
It was all I could do not to lost my mind over the lack of sleep, so I searched high and low. I literally became a sleep expert on how babies should sleep. So why wasn't it working for mine?
By the time I was convinced I'd found the answer, he would enter a new phase and transition into a new sleep pattern. He was a pro at teasing me with a few nights of good rest and then pulling the rug out from under me. It's like he kept me teetering between sane enough to function and ready to lose it.
Once all of his teeth were in, we hit toddler-hood and he was able to communicate his needs, and sleep became a regular thing. He could sleep anywhere (ahem, reference picture above). He needed it like the rest of us, and on a more manageable schedule for us all. Only took two years of not sleeping. TWO YEARS!
By the time I had my second son, I did things much differently, and it worked. Well, it worked for our family, and it may very well work for yours. Here it is; you ready?
I threw every piece of advice OUT THE WINDOW.
Why, you ask? Because no one knows my child like I do. So the swaddle technique was never going to work for my oldest son, but it worked for months for my youngest. Both of my kids only used pacifiers during their first few months of life, and never needed them to get to sleep. I breastfed one kid for 9 months and the other had mostly formula, and the advice I received was all based on some other person's kid.
One of my boys co-slept and the other hated co-sleeping. Could I have gotten more opposite sides of the coin with my two kids? Well, maybe. But when any new parent asks me for the remedy for perfect sleep, I tell them, do what works for your family. There's no right or wrong way to do things. I give them ideas to try if they haven't already done so, but I never assume it's going to work and I never lead them to believe it will.
What I've come to notice is that most parents are looking for reassurance. They are doing everything the only way they know how, and if it's difficult, that's because parenting IS difficult. But we, as parents are also so beaten down by what others believe we should or shouldn't be doing that we second guess ourselves. We lose our confidence before we even get a chance to try at this parenting thing.
So look, the perfect sleep doesn't exist. Stop searching right now. STOP. Just listen to your child's needs the best you know how, try to meet them and see what happens. If you're "lucky" enough to have that golden child who's never had an issue sleeping, count your lucky stars, because there may be a chance that the next one is going to make you pay.
Just kidding! Sorta.
Alison Chrun is a wife and mother of two who writes about parenting, relationships and self-development on her blog Appetite for Honesty. She is currently receiving her Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.