Sometimes it is very important to remember that EVERY BABY IS DIFFERENT. Therefore, don't ever let anyone tell you that what you're doing with your baby is wrong. You just have to do what works best for you! To identify what works best for you, yes you will try different things and then your parental instincts take over.. and you do what makes your baby happy. Books and guidelines are great as a start, but at the end of the day, all babies are different so you listen to your gut, not your health nurse or grandparents or bossy friends etc.
I wanted to share MY experience today because I realise a lot of parents out there probably struggle with the same issues I struggled with during Micah's first year as a baby. He wasn't the best at sleeping, and I totally envied all my friends who got it right from an early beginning, and I did a lot of things that "statistics" have claimed will cause a lot of problems when Micah is older. Well, Micah is older now, so I can reflect back on what I did and how it has affected him today.
Disclaimer: The following are just examples based on my personal experience and by no means guarantee that it will have the same results with other babies.
Sleeping No-No #1: Do Not Let Your Baby Sleep in the Bouncer because He Will Just Get Used to the Bouncing / Rocking and will have trouble Sleeping in his Cot When He Is Older...
When Micah was younger, he really struggled to fall asleep in his cot. As soon as I lie him down flat, he would scream and scream without giving up. The only way to really calm him down and get him to have most of his naps during the day and even some at night was to rock him or bounce him, and there's only so much rocking you can do yourself without feeling like your arm is about to fall off so he fell asleep on the bouncer quite a lot when he was younger.
This probably went on for a couple of months... so I would say between 1 month old - 3 months old and then he got over it and started sleeping really well in his cot because we then moved on to the NEXT sleeping No-No...
Sleeping No-No #2: Do not give your baby the DUMMY because it will become a Sleep Association and he will always expect a dummy and without it he won't be able to fall asleep and it will be difficult to wean him off the dummy....
Micah's "Dummy Stage" was very short lived. It was really handy to be able to use the dummy and keep him happy while we were out and about, especially while we were doing the Alpha Course at church, because it was night time and 3 hours and we needed him to sleep. He was about 3-4 months then, I think. Then we used the dummy to help him sleep at night. Yes, he went through a stage when he would wake up in the middle of the night because he has lost his dummy and we had to give it back to him.. but this whole thing only went on for again, a couple of months at most, because eventually he has figured out an easier, more convenient way of sucking something to sleep....
........ and that was his fingers! It was brilliant for a while, I'm only sad it didn't last as long as I wanted to, because eventually he forgot how to find his fingers and struggled to fall asleep again... lol.
But you see, we didn't have to do anything to wean him off the dummy... he weaned all by himself!
Sleeping No-No #3: Feeding to Sleep. This will cause big problems when he is older and can't fall asleep without his mummy's boobies. Huge sleep association thing.
This one is a huge one for me.. so I should take my time in writing this and make sure I describe it as it is. How shall I describe it... hhmmm... well, first of all, it is EXHAUSTING to always be feeding him whenever I need him to sleep. It takes forever during the day that I wasn't able to do much else, and it disrupts my sleep at night because it meant my husband couldn't get up and help me resettle Micah back to sleep when he wakes.
On a positive note, I truly enjoyed all those cuddle times and those moments when I could watch him calm down immediately from a distressed cry and just how breastfeeding truly comforts him and I love watching him drift away to sleepyland and get all "drugged up" that even when I sit him up to burp he would stay asleep. I love those moments!!
I actually continued doing that for the longest time... even when he turned one, I was still feeding him to sleep. It was also how we survived two 8-hour plane flights to Malaysia, I was feeding him to sleep on my lap in the plane!
I actually thought it would be impossible for him to fall asleep without my boobies... and that I have dug myself a hole for sure....
The past month has proved me wrong! We have had to leave Micah with a babysitter for a full day while we attended a funeral in Sydney, and Micah went to sleep during the day without me, no problem. He went to bed at night at 7pm without me, no problem. Hubby has had to tuck him in to bed without me, no problem! He is quite happy to be read a story, tucked in to bed, say goodnight, leave him, and he will just look around for a little bit and then fall asleep without crying! We use the music on the baby monitor a lot to resettle him at night, and we find sometimes we don't even need to use the music to put him to sleep!
My little boy is all grown up now, and has weaned himself off all the Sleeping No-Nos we have used to get by... yes, we could've tried to wean him off all those habits a lot sooner, after all he is 17 months now, but I didn't see the need to rush it. I do enjoy those cuddle times. I like feeling needed. Now, I feel a little bit sad that bedtime routines won't take that long anymore! I do like the fact that I am now free... he is not weaned off breastfeeding completely, but I can make plans every once in a while that won't affect Micah and his sleep. I can go off and do some food blog projects at night, and hubby will be fine to get him to bed. Hubby and I can go and have a short getaway just the two of us now, and Micah will be fine with a babysitter.
We have just that little bit of freedom now... freedom other parents would've experienced much sooner because they never did any of the above No-Nos...
But you know what, I wouldn't trade those nights of feeding my boy to sleep with ANY dinner parties or movies or going on a holiday without Micah.
I wouldn't trade using the bouncer or dummy to settle him to sleep with listening to him cry and scream and be distressed.
I wouldn't have done anything different. Micah only started sleeping in his own room at 7 months. Only started sleeping through the night at 9 months. He is still breastfeeding 3 times a day, although if we had to go away or if we're out and about all day he is perfectly fine without breastmilk for the whole day. We know that, so why should I stop breastfeeding him when I know it's good for him? He's not 2 years old yet, and by the time he is 2 I will stop. Or hopefully I get pregnant again and I just naturally stop or move on to next baby anyway.
Sooooo... I thought I'd just share. It all worked out fine, and looking back I really DID get a lot of helpful advice from people and I have to admit sometimes I felt a little bit depressed and stressed over what people tell me what to do or not to do. I would just like to remind you, if you're reading this, to take into consideration what people tell you, but do not let them decide what you do. Do what works best for you and your family, and listen to your gut. Babies are actually a lot more flexible than you think, and whatever "habit" you create today can be turned around next week if you really want to. I just went with the flow... and it works for us. May not work for other people, they might have different needs and therefore have to stick to very strict routines and never go off those routines because that's what works best for them.
My little man has grown up to be a happy toddler, a friendly boy, he has gone out to dinner with us many times, gone out to roadtrips and overseas holidays and weekend getaways, and has had his "routine" changed every day, every week, every month depending on what comes along and he is doing great. I am so thankful and so blessed that it all just... worked itself out :-)