Sometimes parents of a wakeful baby become resentful, envying other parents whose child sleeps through the night and wondering what’s wrong with their own child. “Does everyone else have easier babies?”
Parents may blame themselves for their situation, believing that they caused their baby’s wakefulness by being too attentive to his cries. “If only we had let him cry it out earlier, maybe we’d all be sleeping now.” There’s really no need for doubt and self-blame. When you go to your baby at night, you give him a sense of security and a sense that his needs will consistently be met. When a baby is left to cry it out at night, he gives up and cries himself back to sleep.
It’s really okay to go to your baby when he wakes up crying. Parents of a wakeful baby need to know that they’re not alone. Many babies wake up during the night. Once parents understand this, that they’re not alone, they can alter their expectations about normal sleeping patterns and begin to feel better about their child’s behavior.
If you’re the parent of a wakeful baby, you’ll want to help him get back to sleep as quickly as possible. First, try to meet his needs by changing him, feeding him, or making him more comfortable. If he’s still wakeful, try soothing him with rocking or singing. Sometimes mechanical, repetitive sounds are calming, the sound of the ocean; running water; the hum of a hair dryer, fan, or vacuum cleaner. There are special sound machines, CDs, and toys that play the sounds of heartbeats; you might try one of these. Having him sleep with you may be less exhausting and frustrating than getting up several times to comfort and feed him.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, try napping during the day or early evening, or going to bed early at night. And recognize that, as exhausting as this can be, wakefulness will decrease as your child gets older.