Please see Part I of the series here.
Now that I’ve set the expectation that I may have some techniques that lead to good sleep in infants and young children, I thought I’d start with some of our errors with Little Jacks that have made her sleep such a challenge for us. Make no mistake, part of her sleep issue is certainly temperament. She needs significantly less sleep than other children her age and she has a very high need for mama. But beyond those unchangeable variables, there is a lot that we could have done as parents to make sleep better for her.
I searched for an evidence base regarding first born children and sleep but didn’t find any. I am certain there must be a link with more disrupted sleep in the oldest child. In our family’s experience, the first born has far more sleep troubles than the second. I have to wonder if some of Little Jacks’ issues are due to the things we did to foster bad sleep habits. I remember when we first brought Little Jacks home, staring lovingly at her for hours, holding her for entire naps (and if I’m being completely honest, for entire days!), and picking her up at the slightest stirring or noise. It all seemed so reasonable at the time! I mean I was home with her 24 hours a day. I had never done this before and she was so cute and sweet. Her noises and movements must mean she NEEDED something. Who wouldn’t want to make sure that those needs were addressed?!
First off, let me say that for the first four months of LJ’s life, she was a dream sleeper. She seemed to have pretty good sleep patterns and several times slept a 7-10 hour stretch. We thought we had hit the sleep lottery. Little did we know that we were undermining that every step of the way!