I remember when my son finally started sleeping through the night. Honestly, I was smug. In fact, I thought this parenting thing was "easy." Really, what was all the fuss about, parents? Are "sleep issues" really the worst part of parenting? Then my baby experienced his first sleep regression, I was suffering from a terrible head cold, and I honestly felt like I was dying. I really wish I had some tips on hand, like these tricks real parents use to survive sleep regressions.
After all, us parents need a little help from time to time, right? Not only help, we need advice from those who have experienced the hell that is a baby who just won't sleep. It's one thing to read about sleep regressions in a book, but it's another thing to receive honest advice from someone you can trust, and from someone who has actually been there.
Being sleep deprived made me so emotional, I found it hard to function as a normal adult. As a result, I would experience illogical tantrums over nothing, all because I was so damn tired I couldn't contemplate my actual reality. I was lucky, though, because I had a supportive partner and family members to lend a helping hand. When I couldn't function any longer, they stepped in and allowed me to grab a necessary nap. Still, I definitely would have benefited from any of the following tricks and tips from real parents, and I have a feeling you could, too:
"My baby had his day and night mixed up for a while. I was exhausted and couldn't focus on anything. My mom suggested I switch my own days for a while. So in the day I would sleep, and at night I would have more energy to cope with him. Obviously this wasn't a sustainable plan, but it gave me enough rest and energy to be able to cope with the transition."
"My mom came and stayed with me and we would take the night in shifts. It allowed me to at least get some sleep."
"I hired a night nanny. It was a very contentious issue among my friends and family, but I won't allow myself to feel guilty. I have a high powered job where I am making important decisions that affect peoples lives. I needed my sleep."
"We practiced bed sharing. Sleep regressions suck, but at least, if we were together, [my son] was calmed (a little) by my presence and warmth."
"With my doctor's advice, I introduced some oatmeal to [my son's] last feed before bed. It seemed to fill him up a little and, as a result, it helped."
"All the coffee! Seriously, and even though I made sure I was eating enough and looking after my own physical needs so that I had as much energy as possible to deal. It was hard."
"If my baby wouldn't sleep, I would just give up and start the day over, even if it was 4 a.m. I would be like, 'Fine, we're up,' and I would sleep later when he napped."
"I tried to remember that it was fleeting. I went to my doctor in tears and she said that sleep regressions usually last 4-8 weeks. That gave me hope."
"My husband and I took turns getting up. It made it feel a little more balanced and fair, even though I was still awake."
"During a particularly bad sleep regression, I put my little one in daycare but didn't go to work. I just went home and slept, hard!"
"I worked on increasing my milk supply, I took supplements, ate loads of oatmeal and lactation cookies, and fed on demand. I also supplemented my baby with formula and, slowly, life got back to normal. I think [my son] was just growing and was hungry."
"I used those times I was awake with the baby to catch up with my emails, watch all my shows, and read magazines. The house was quiet and I would wear my baby in a sling and just get things done that made me happy."