Parenting an Irregular Baby in Five Easy Steps

According to What To Expect, some babies are just irregular. This was my saving grace with little D. Dr. Google was telling me that patterns were supposed to be emerging, that putting my baby on a schedule would be immensely helpful (and not incredibly painful), that her sleeping and eating schedule would gradually become consistent. Well with Delilah, that was all total (pardon my abbreviation) B.S. and when I finally realized it my life got a lot easier.

Did she nap for two hours today? Awesome! Is she going to do it tomorrow? Probably not. Did she take four naps today? She’ll probably take two tomorrow. Time between showing tired signs changed from day to day. Even when she did appear tired she would refuse to nap, and would nap when she didn’t look tired. When she woke up at night changed every night. I did everything I could including keeping a sleep chart and I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Naps too early? Too Late? Was she cold? Was she hot? Was it too light? Too dark? Is she sleeping too long at night? Not long enough? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME? WHY AM I A FAILURE?!

I finally read in WTE that some babies are just irregular. Thank god someone finally told me. It took a lot (not all) of my guilt out of the equation. WTE comforted me and said not to expect regularity with my child. Just try for less chaos. And that leads me the steps. Is your kid irregular? Here’s help.

1. Accept irregularity and try for less chaos.

As one of my mom friends wisely told me, you can’t schedule a hurricane. Babywise is not for your child. 2-3-4 is not for your child. Eat Play Sleep is not for your child. Your child is going to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it and you’re just going to have to wing it. Trying to put an irregular baby on some kind of schedule is like pulling teeth. Honestly it’s easier to just go with the flow and accept it. That’s not to say you can’t make little things regular. I always feed Delilah before and after naps. She always goes to bed between 5:30 and 7 at night. She always has play-mat time after her morning feed. Her naps aren’t scheduled, her wake up time isn’t scheduled, and her bedtime is only roughly scheduled. With irregular babies it really is all about the little things.

2. For the love of god stay off the internet.

I know you’re not going to do this step. You can’t help yourself. I can’t either. But googling how to get your child to nap longer or more consistently or sleep more at night will only stress you out. You’ll try everything they suggest, despite the fact it is inconsistent and contradictory, and none of it will work, thus making you believe you are the worst parent who ever walked the earth. Internet bloggers and parent site forum frequenters will tell how their children were on a solid nap schedule at two months. Ignore those people. Those people suck.

3. Expect that your child will sometimes be tired and/or cranky.

This one was a hard one for me, but eventually after 3 failed naps some days I (mostly)stopped feeling guilty that Delilah was tired. She knows how to nap, she was napping fine yesterday and last week. If she’s refusing to take naps today that is not my fault. I’ve done everything I possibly can to get her to sleep at the right time(s), besides some type of witchcraft and or voodoo. If your child is irregular naps will be hard. Sometimes…ha…a lot of times they might refuse them. A failed nap everyday is normal. Your baby will sleep when they need to sleep and otherwise might be a bit cranky. If they are still getting plenty of time to practice skills and are growing and eating they are just fine. Hang in there.

4. Don’t compare your baby to other babies

Probably every child you know will be easier than your baby. That’s ok. But don’t kill yourself over it. Your baby is not your friend’s baby and never will be. Unless you want to secretly steal and or illegally “adopt” your friend’s child, worrying about what they do is pointless. Other babies may start napping on schedule for similar amounts of time from day to day. Yours won’t. But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your baby, or that you’re doing anything wrong as a mom. It means your baby is destined to be a cardiac surgeon or airplane pilot working weird shifts and staying up for 36 hours at a time. Seriously. It’ll all work out. Plus they’ll be able to afford one of those super nice nursing homes for you. And when “that” mom at the play group starts bragging about how she had her son sleeping through the night at five weeks don’t kill her. You can’t be a good mom from prison.

5. Remember that you are a good mother.

Irregular children don’t come to everyone but they certainly don’t come only to bad moms. Doing the best you can is enough, and that makes you a fantastic mother.

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