I Rock My Baby to Sleep
Someone asked me today how I get my baby to sleep.
"I just do whatever works," I admitted. "The 'experts' all say not to feed or rock your baby to sleep, but I just do what works."
"So you rock your baby to sleep?!" She zeroed in with extreme interest.
I struggled to answer straight away, hesitated, then thought 'what the heck'. I don't know why I didn't want to admit it, I guess it was that lingering fear from my early motherhood days when I felt judgement, pressure and condemnation from all around (including from myself).
Do I rock my baby to sleep?
"Yeah sometimes," I shrugged. "Sometimes I feed him to sleep, sometimes I rock him, and sometimes he just holds my hand and falls asleep in his bed. It's always different depending on what's going on. And sometimes it's different each sleep of the day too."
Case in point, while we were talking my baby fell asleep in the carrier. Not the pram - never the pram, unfortunately!
The 'experts' basically condemn mothers these days for everything, and getting your baby to sleep has got to be one of the biggest topics they all judge us for. I remember the utter fear I felt with my first child regarding her sleep habits - that I was doing the worst thing ever for rocking my baby to sleep. Apparently I was doing the wrong thing for my baby, I was creating lifelong bad habits, all the challenges of my baby were my fault, I would never be able to sleep again etc etc. It got to the point where I was in tears every time she was ready for a nap because I just couldn't get it to work. I wanted to do the 'right' thing, but my baby would not sleep on her own.
This time, I couldn't care less what the experts think I should do. My three-year-old daughter is amazing, and I am confident I didn't ruin her for life by rocking her. In fact, she goes to sleep in her own bed, no rocking or cuddling now, and sleeps all night long.
The truth is, every baby is different. Some babies don't need rocking, but some really actually do.
My second baby doesn't need rocking like my first did. But out of habit, I sometimes do it anyway. It feels nice to cuddle him and hold him close to soothe him, to look at him sleeping in my arms and imagine he will be mine forever.
Today, this first-time grandmother asked me about how I get my baby to sleep. She was asking because her daughter, a brand new mum, was 'having trouble'. The new grandbaby was only ten days' old. This should not have even been a question.
New mamas, I just want to encourage you as much as you will let me right now! It is ok and normal if your baby doesn't sleep through the night (ever). It is ok if your baby seems to go backwards in sleep habits - this happens constantly through the first year. And it is ok if you rock your baby to sleep. Or feed her, or bring him to your bed, or give her a dummy, or use a white noise machine, or whatever else you feel you're doing wrong. I know it sucks that it isn't easier. I wish I could make it easier for you (and me). It is hard, but not always and not forever. Cherish the good sleeps, they really are special. And take the pressure off. Be proud that you are doing what works, not what the experts say is the 'right' thing to do - your baby is not a robot and babies do not all need the same things.
I sometimes rock my baby to sleep. And I am a good mum. And my baby is a good baby. And the same is true for you too.