What I wish I’d known with baby #1

by Rachel Rowell, My Baby Sleep Guide

The first few months after my first child, Joshua, was born were rough. Okay, I’m under-exaggerating that. He cried endlessly, didn’t sleep, and I was a basket case. Maybe you’ve been there. It’s not a pretty sight.

The second time around went much more smoothly. I knew what to expect, I thought a lot about how I wanted to do things, and I learned piles of stuff through experiences, my own and others’. Maybe this is your first child or maybe it’s your fifth. Either way, sometimes we all need a moment to take a look at the bigger picture, remember what to expect and maybe even get a few pointers.

Here’s my list of what I wish I’d known with Joshua, or baby #1. Much is related to sleep, but not all.

  • Remember, life with a baby is a journey, not a destination. Keep the end goal of great sleep in mind, but don’t get so distracted trying to reach it that you forget to live and enjoy the journey.
  • Make sure to let baby fall asleep on you every once in a while. It is one of those precious moments that will stay with you forever.
  • We all have our bad days, babies included. So don’t freak out and jump to every possible conclusion when they happen! You will stress yourself out for no reason at all. If things last for more than a day or two, then it is time to start the investigation.
  • Consistency pays off. It really does.
  • An overtired child, particularly a baby, is your worst nightmare. Mess up all over the place, but do not even go there! See waketimes and sleep cues for some pointers.
  • It’s okay to not be supermom every second of every day. Everyone needs to ask for help sometimes. Consider it practice at being humble.
  • Someone, somewhere out there will always be critical about how you raise your child, especially how you sleep train and discipline him. Forget about it. As long as you are keeping your child safe, happy, healthy and loved, then you are doing the right thing.
  • Children are hard. They take a lot of work. They stress you out. At the same time, raising them will likely the best thing you ever do.
  • Babies have different personalities. Some are easier than others. It is a fact of life (albeit an unfair one!). Some sleep great no matter what. Some have quite a few sleep problems even if things are done perfectly. That is how it goes. If you fall into the “doesn’t sleep great” party, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, and it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with your child. Sleep just isn’t one of his strengths. I’m sure he has many others.
  • Motherhood is full of small, but great moments. Focus on those.
  • Be patient with sleep. It takes some babies a while to get it. If it takes them a month longer than their older sister or cousin it doesn’t matter. They have their own timetable. Their uniqueness makes them special.
  • Tomorrow is a new day. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday or the day before. Time to start afresh.
  • If you think your baby has colic, rule out overtiredness first. Because that is very possibly the problem.
  • Everyone needs support sometimes. Someone to talk to. Someone to give you a hug. Knowing you are not the only one going through something does wonders.
  • Comparing your child’s sleep to others is only sometimes useful as a reference point, not a copy point. Your child is not their child. Your child has his own needs and his own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Sometimes there is no reason for what is going on. No reason at all. Sorry, but it’s true.
  • Babies have different personalities and will respond to your routine in different ways. Work with your baby, not against him when making your routine.
  • Be flexible. Don’t be so ruled by your routine you are unable to enjoy life, unable to enjoy your baby and unable to follow your mommy instinct. Adjust your routine to fit you and baby.
  • Life with a young baby is full of phases. Much of what happens is just a phase. That’s it. Some have names and causes (teething, learning a new skill) and some appear nameless and causeless. But guess what, each of these phases does pass! Keep that in mind when you feel at your wit’s end.
  • Relax. Enjoy life. Enjoy your baby. He will not be little forever. You won’t do everything perfectly and that is okay! If you’re perfect, how will your child learn what he doesn’t want to do as a parent when he grows up. :)
  • A sleep association is not the end of the world. In fact, it is much preferable to a mom pulling out all her hair, going half insane and a baby getting no sleep at all. Yes, start as you mean to go on, but only if the end result will be a pleasing one. There are many things worse than a prop-dependent baby.
  • Your baby is not a machine. The same thing goes for you. Do not expect perfection on either front. Do not expect things to go exactly by the book. They won’t. Thinking so will result in piles of stress and, sometimes, a feeling of failure.
  • You are doing better than you think you are. You are really are!

And finally, remember to take time out for yourself sometimes. You need it and most importantly, you deserve it!

Rachel blogs at My Baby Sleep Guide.

Comments

  1. I love this list. I am due with #2 in 5 weeks and already know that no matter what type of baby I have, this time is going to be less stressful for me. I have learned a lot, especially the remember to enjoy your baby part! :-)

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