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When BabyWise Fails (and what’s not wrong with my baby)

It’s been a long eight months.

I stood and washed dishes at 10pm with tears streaming down my face more evenings than I care to remember. I was held completely hostage by the monitor. Waiting. More anxious by the minute. Is that the baby? Of course it’s the baby. Wait, it’s not the baby. Am I going freaking crazy? Jeez. Breathe already. Five minutes of peace, so quickly ruined because of the fear that he’d erupt into screaming again just as soon as I had a chance to take a breath. Which he did, more often than not.

It was hard. REALLY hard. Like, go get your vasectomy NOW hard…because that angel of a newborn we had last time was a complete and total fluke and this baby is the opposite and I cannot ever do this again. I loved him, but it took me a long while to like him. Guilt. Resentment. Frustration. No longer being able to enjoy my two year old, because I was so incredibly exhausted… emotionally and physically run down. It was all I could do to get through the day.

He didn’t sleep. He never slept. I couldn’t put him down. I couldn’t leave him with anyone else. I was patting myself on the back when my girl slept through the night at seven weeks. Six months into it this time around, I was still up every hour some nights. Where did I fail? What am I doing wrong? How can this be happening? 

Tears. More tears. Anger. Tears.

I am almost nine months out of newbornland. Joy is finally more prominent than exhaustion. I am thinking straight & feeling like the old me. Well, a new version of the old me. I’ve had time to think & process and understand the reasons why this challenge became a part of my life. & I know exactly the reason.

Three years ago I was a new mother of a twelve week old. She slept through the night. She was a dream. I was following Babywise and it was awesome. I thought Ezzo was BRILLIANT. I loved his method (more on how I successfully used it here). This mom thing? Cake walk. I was sleeping seven hours straight at seven weeks postpartum. What is all this nonsense about being sleep deprived? I joyfully recommended Babywise to everyone I knew and was open about how easy it was to implement. I mean Ezzo said it himself:

When your baby starts sleeping through the night, people will invariably say, “You’re just lucky,” or “You’ve got an easy baby.” Neither statement is true. Your baby is sleeping through the night because you trained him or her to do so. You can take the credit for your success.

I used to LOVE that quote. Every time an exhausted friend told me I was lucky, I thought oh no. I was not lucky. I helped my daughter do this. & then I recommended Babywise.

Well. Enter second child. Difficult, insomniac, second child. The kind that sleeps for a four hour stretch ONCE in six months. Who eats and eats and eats. The kind that naps for twenty minutes, TOPS. If at all. The kind that screams if you put him down. The kind that wears you to your core. & all I could think about was that quote.

& now, after failing Babywise, (failing every regimen I could possibly try) I have decided, that Ezzo is still brilliant. He makes successful Babywisers believe in themselves. What better tool for a new mama? But he makes failed Babywisers…well…feel like failures. But some of us will LOVE Babywise. We will swear by it. We will recommend it to everyone we know and judge other mothers who cannot get it to work, because he tells us we can control our child’s sleep pattern. But what about the rest of us? What about those of us who are the same parent, if not a MORE skilled parent and cannot get it to work. Then what do we do? There is no eat-wake-sleep pattern if there IS NO SLEEP. Heaven help those first time mamas who just can’t get the Babywise routine to work. Sweet mamas. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.

Some babies are just tough. Mine was one of them. Everyone wanted to help, and I really appreciate that. I heard: Put him on reflux meds. Cut out dairy. Use black out curtains. Let him cry it out. Put him to sleep at on angle. Swaddle. Unswaddle. Let him sleep in the swing. Co-sleep. Don’t co-sleep. Use white noise. Put him down earlier. Put him down later.

I had heard them all. I read and tried a bunch of things & I just knew, as a mother always does, that some of them were just not the answer. He was fine when I held him. Totally fine. But the minute I put him down, it was OVER. He was fine sleeping next to me, laying down, for hours, which to me, ruled out reflux.

I refused to medicate. I refused to supplement my breastmilk, so I cut out everything from my diet. The only major trigger I found was chocolate, with onions/tomatoes/peppers/garlic a distant second. He was growing and eating so much and so often. I just knew, above all else, he was hungry. I had a bit of an epiphany when I talked to our doctor one day and she asked me about my sleep patterns. She pointed out that neither my husband nor I routinely get more than six hours a night (and function just fine) and it might possibly just be his genetic makeup that tells him he needs less sleep than we think he should have. Couple that with an insatiable appetite (yet a crazy strong growth curve) and my hungry hippo was just awake and hungry. A lot.

My turning point came at about seven and a half months when I slowly started adding solid foods. I noticed virtually no difference for a good few weeks on just fruit and veggies. Then, I found my miracle food: hard boiled egg yolks. One night I fed him a crumbled egg yolk mixed in with some squash, and he slept. I tried it again the next day, and he slept again. Repeat, repeat, repeat. He was sleeping through the night. HALLELUJAH! The more he slept at night, the more he napped during the day. And all of a sudden, at eight months, my son was joyful. Like giggling, smiling, JOYFUL. I cried again. Happy tears.

But it’s time to have a discussion about the high needs child. We, as mothers, tend to bury our struggles deep down inside because somehow (Ezzo not helping this mentality) we feel our difficult babies are our personal failures as a mother. I will say this as many times, and as loudly as I can (with a hug, if it happens to be in person): IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You can get through it. It will not last forever. Breathe. You are doing a great job. YOU are not a failure.

Some babies are just hard. And hungry. But really freaking hard.

& so I am walking away from this experience with a whole new set of mommy goggles. I am more compassionate. I am kinder. I am so empathetic to the mama who, near tears, tells me she is still not sleeping much. It’s really easy to feel great about yourself when you have an angel baby. I think Caroline was, and in so many ways still is, a ridiculously easy child. Of course, we’ve nurtured her spirit to keep her this way, but she is just easy. And Everett–well. I was unable to “give him the gift of nighttime sleep” (the subtitle of Babywise) despite my best efforts. But this little guy has given me the gift of grace in return. There is no need to boast about parental successes, just as there is no need to judge perceived parental failures. We never, ever know what is headed our way. EVER.

So as I always like to do on my parenting articles, please help me make this a resource for struggling mamas. If you are one, and you need some uplifting during your haze, I will first recommend this: 12 Features of a High Need Baby. When I found this article, I took a deep breath & realized I was not alone. This described my baby–every single thing fit–and I started to learn how to cope and stop comparing him to his sister. It was wonderful. I also recommend every article on the Dr. Sears site about High Needs babies–which you can find here. One of the articles advised we “teach him how to relax” and that thought was on a post it note in Everett’s nursery the day I read it. It was a huge lightbulb moment for me. Teach him. Teach him how to relax, don’t get angry or frustrated, be soothing. Light bulb, I tell you.

So now it’s your turn. Tell me your survival tips. When did your fog lift? How? What was the biggest thing that helped you through it? Let’s help our mama friends who need a pat on the back or a new idea. Or even just to know, they are not alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

& just as I sign every one of the stylebabyLOGs that I send out…

…wishing you sleep! :)

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  • Andrea - First off, I’m so sorry that it’s been far more difficult this second go around. It’s frustrating and hard. My daughter Elizabeth is like your Caroline…baby whisperer Textbook in every way. She flew through Babywise without a blink of an eye. During hard stretches she molded to short versions of Cry-it-Out. But after nannying 3 boys with very different temperaments for 8 years before baby I went into parenthood knowing one thing. Every baby is different. The youngest I nannyied never slept. Ever. Still at 8 he doesn’t sleep through the night. I think it’s good for all mothers and daddies alike to remember while parenting that every kid is different, has different needs, and why would we want it any other way. We’re raising individuals:)ReplyCancel

  • donya - So nice to read your thoughts on this, Shawna. My first born was high-needs, but he did start sleeping most of the night at about 4 months. With my second on the way this summer, I thought for sure I’d be able to get Babywise to work this time. Well, he’s nearly 6 weeks old now and we’re far from getting Babywise to work. I know it’s still early, but we’ve already had a few weeks of inconsolable crying at some point during the day. I have to remind myself daily that every baby is different and that it’s not my fault that he isn’t an easy baby.ReplyCancel

  • Meghan - Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. My oldest, named Caroline too :), wasn’t an easy baby but this time around I thought I would change certain things and it would be so much easier. But still at almost 5 months old, my son is exhausting- doesn’t sleep through the night, eats all the time, crazy big boy. My dr keeps telling me to try cry it out, he doesn’t need to eat 2-3 times a night. But I had an epiphany last night. I’m his mama, not anyone else, and all this extraneous advice doesn’t feel right. He will sleep through the night when he is ready and not because I forcibly wean him or let him cry. So thank you for sharing, it gives me strength to keep going and know that there is light at the end.ReplyCancel

  • Hanni - Shawna, thank you so much for sharing this. I just posted it on my facebook asking every mom to read it. I pray it brings freedom to so many tired mamas who feel like failures. I’m so glad you are finding joy and sleep. What a cute little guy you have.ReplyCancel

  • hanna - You know I was a lot like you after our first son. He was sleeping through the night at 6-7 weeks. Like you I thought oh this baby stuff isn’t too bad. Then fastforward to twins 4 years later and it took a year for my son to sleep through the night. We thought it was reflux – had a couple different prescriptions and nothing. Tried the swing, tried the car seat, tried sleeping on an incline in the crib – we tried it all. Finally we found it was a milk allergy – something the Dr. never mentioned. Once we switched his formula there was a difference w/in 24 hours. Then we did have to let him cry it out for only 1-2 nights – needless to say there were three of us crying at one point, both babies + one momma. Now we are at the fun phase. The playing, the laughing, the sweet kisses. It was by far the hardest thing I have ever done.ReplyCancel

  • Joy - My best survival tips are co-sleeping and baby-wearing. When we had our first, my husband and I had a very tight budget and shared a tiny room with our daughter. And I always joke that I ONLY make high-needs babies. (They’re like their mama!) There was no way to let her cry it out without losing our minds. So co-sleeping just happened.
    I grew up in Asia, so to me, both co-sleeping and baby-wearing are completely natural. I think it’s important to remember that what we do here in the US isn’t what mothers in most of the rest of the world. We beat ourselves up if our kids don’t sleep through the night after a couple months, wondering what we’re doing wrong — yet it’s such an American idea expectation. Little ones were made with a desire to be cuddled and held, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’m sorry you had such a hard time, but it sounds like it was a eye-opening experience. Keep up the good work! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kim - Loved this post, it made me feel so much better. My first was just like your second. I always thought it was me. So many people pushed Babywise and it didn’t work for her. You are truly an inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • Juliet - This was a great relief to me! i have a 15 week old and read Babywise cover to cover and referenced it many MANY times in the first couple of months of little Owen’s life. It boggled my mind why I couldn’t get the Babywise plan to work. Now, I’ve just learned to accept that it doesn’t work with every baby and MY baby is his own person. Regardless of the great plans I have in store for him, he will be his own person no matter what. He is my FIRST child and it killed me and frustrated me that I could not achieve the goal of 8 hours by 8 weeks and 12 hours by 12 weeks with him. Everyone I knew was happy to tell me how their 7 week old slept through the night, etc. It drove me to quit breastfeeding early and made me NUTS some days (and many nights). Anyway, great post, thanks for the reassuring nudge.ReplyCancel

  • Janalin Hood - Awesome post Shawna! I too had a great sleeper first and a terrible one second. Baby wearing and co-sleeping are the only reasons I am sane. He is 17 months tomorrow and still doesn’t take a decent nap in his own bed. I rarely get to sit at the computer to do my own stuff (which I dearly miss.) But I am thankful for the iphone so I can surf during our still frequent night nursing sessions. Thank you for posting what it is like (and that it’s ok) to have a high maintenance baby.

    PS- I hope your transition to toddler-dom is better than ours. This boy of mine is the strongest willed, do-it-myself kid I’ve ever experienced. My house is a wreck (kitchen specifically) because I let him do what makes him happy… cook with me.


  • Monique - My daughter was born with a clubfoot. And while we were incredibly blessed it isn’t life threatening and she is very healthy, it was still a very rocky road those first 6 mths. We started serial castings on her leg when she was just two weeks old and a surgery where she was put under at just 6 weeks. She lost two pounds and was well below her birth weight. We had no choice but to start her on formula. She was very colicky, didn’t sleep, had stomach issues and cried well a lot! But by the grace of God we made it through! Now she’s happy, healthy, sleeps through the night (usually), high energy and hilarious. I appreciate every minute even more now because I remember how hard it was in the beginningReplyCancel

  • Cristin - I don’t make sleepers either…I tried everything that I thought made sense for my baby. Then I gave up on what society wanted and did what my baby needed. I co-sleep so that we both sleep, and he still struggles with naps. It is just who he is, but I know there is an end in site and my now 2.5year old learned and we helped her to understand sleeping habits and I know eventually he will too. Do what is right for your baby, every baby is different and mama knows best, not the lady down the street : /ReplyCancel

  • Sunray - Isn’t motherhood humbling? There is ALWAYS something new to learn and be learned about yourself and who you are. Right when you think you had it all figured out, a rug is pulled from under your feet.

    I was one of the new moms that came across your blog before Everette was born. I had read Babywise and tried it with our son with no success. And I couldn’t help thinking that it was my fault that my baby wasn’t sleeping through the night specially after seeing your success story with Caroline. I constantly had Ezzo on my shoulder repeating the quote you quoted over and over every time I had to go in to sooth my son at 11pm, 1am, 3am, 5am. I felt like I was such a wimp!

    I think it took me about nine months to realize that babies are all different. We, as people, are ALL different. We all have different personalities and preferences. Why did I think that ALL babies would respond well to Babywise? And when I thought about my own personality, he’s a lot like me. Both my husband and I are busy bodies. Where was I expecting the “chill” or “mellow” gene to come from…I don’t know. This baby is miniature version of me. He knows what he wants and he will do things on his own term. At that point, I just went with whatever that will get all of us the most sleep. If it’s going to his room to sleep with him half the night, so be it. My husband and I took turns and the world didn’t end. We all win. :)ReplyCancel

  • SortaCrunchy - Oh goodness.

    A friend sent me this link this morning, and I am so glad she did.

    “He makes successful Babywisers believe in themselves. What better tool for a new mama? But he makes failed Babywisers…well…feel like failures.” Oh, mama. How I can relate to that! Except my high-needs baby was my first, and so you can imagine that I was convinced I was failing every aspect of the mothering thing.

    My hurt and regret and pain over “failing” the program ran so deeply that years later, a friend and I wrote a book on it (shameless plug – Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year). It took me many months to discover and BELIEVE that the problems we had with our oldest (mostly sleep issues) were not my fault. And they weren’t her fault. And that we were going to be okay.

    I love that you linked to the Dr. Sears article on high needs babies. It was an article by him on that very topic that I just happened to read in a random Babytalk magazine at the pediatrician’s office that helped me begin to recover from my feelings of failure and inadequacy.

    Thank you, thank you for sharing your story as a mama who has seen the Babywise approach work and then … not work … It’s so vital that we remember every child is an individual and part of the journey is learning how to parent him or her in the way that works BEST in that moment!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - Oh Shawna, I am right there with you! My angel baby was sleeping through the night at three months once I got on the right track with the baby whisperer method (similar to baby wise). When my second baby was born (8 months ago) I knew I was going to rock it. She would sleep from the start and I wouldn’t have to do the difficult sleep training. Boy was I wrong. She was an angel sleeper for the first 2 months, even with reflux. Then our world was rocked. The demise of my FIL health and death took my husband and sleep training helper away. When we were ready to try again he crushed his hand. I have sobbed for failing her. Why can’t I teach her how to sleep? How to comfort herself?

    We’ve tried almost everything. All of these things worked the first night, but then never again. Swaddling, sleepsack, we even tried the egg yoke. I’m 7 days into dairy free and I think it is helping. I pray it is helping.

    To all the tired mothers out there, it is hard, you’re doing the best you can. This too will eventually pass.ReplyCancel

  • Alisha - Thanks for saying what most mothers are afraid to admit. I, too, am one of those moms who love their child to death, but don’t like her sometimes. :( I felt like such a bad mom and a slave. But when she occasionally sleeps through the night. We both feel like new people! It’s amazing what sleep does for a body. Thanks for having the courage to encourage the rest of us!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - THANK YOU for posting this! I am sitting here reading this in tears, partially from exhaustion and partially because this hit SO close to home. I so appreciate you and your words of wisdom and making me feel like I am not alone.ReplyCancel

  • Robyn - Shawna, THANK YOU for posting this! I lived most of your story (minus the angel baby part). My little man was a non-sleeper until nine months. I thought I was losing my mind, and I just knew that I was a failure, because all of my friends had perfect angels who slept all the time. I was a wreck! Any amount of creativity, productivity, or general well being was sucked right out of me, and I felt so empty…and guilty. My baby was supposed to bring nothing but joy, right?!? Your blog has been a tremendous resource as I have struggled to breastfeed, enjoyed creating my own baby food, and come out of the fog that left me feeling so helpless and drained. I so appreciate your willingness to be transparent and open!ReplyCancel

  • Traci - Beautiful! You will help SO many moms with this post!ReplyCancel

  • Kristen - Great article. I wonder if its just boys in general. :) My first is now two and an awesome sleeper, but he didn’t become an awesome sleeper, in fact he didn’t STTN, until about a year. A year of frustration, crying and having to get up in the morning because I am also a full time lawyer. I used Pantley’s book with him and it worked well. However, I feel like I made it too hard. Listened to too many people and didn’t follow my heart.
    Enter baby number two 21 months later another boy and he put my oldest’s high maintenace ways to shame. I took everyone’s advice and through it out the window and listened to my heart. I just loved him. He sleeps best with us-fine, he wants to be worn 24/7- no problem. He wants no part of bottles and to reverse cycle-oh my, but we survived. Everyone calls him the happiest baby they know, so maybe there is something to it. He still doesn’t STTN and still sleeps with us at 11 months, but everytime I think about moving him out of our room I get sad and go snuggle him. They are only little for awhile and I will treasure every moment and I get a lot of them – all night long.ReplyCancel

  • Ann - I I have a very similar 3 year old girl and 8 month old boy. Do you think he just
    out grew it or do you think the egg yolk helped? Of course I am going to try
    but just curious. Thanks for your support and sharing your story!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - My 13mo. old was (and still is, to some extent) a *high needs* baby. Truth be told, he had a wicked dairy allergy that went un-diagnosed until he was 18 weeks old (aka the 18-weeks-of-hell), and once I went off dairy, things did improve…but not by leaps & bounds. He just is who he is. And this screaming baby of mine just did not match up to the mental picture of a darling angle baby I nurtured throughout my pregnancy.

    The hard part was that NO ONE understood. People blamed us. Friends & family found us lacking as parents and told us that it was our fault that Lucas was this way. I ended up with major PPD/PPA and kept it a secret because I started to buy into the *blame game* people were playing.

    Thank you for your candid honesty. I am certain it will help other mothers more than you could ever know.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - Thanks for sharing this. My first was like Caroline (at least after the first two months) sleeping through the night, taking gloriously long naps, being complete tolerant and happy anywhere and everywhere we brought her. Leaving her with family or a babysitter? No problem. In fact, she tended to be even better when with other people.

    My second, well, was more like Everett. And at a year and a half, still has many high need characteristics. She’s much happier and has been sleeping through the night and napping well for a while now – but she still hates for me to leave her, she still likes to be held all the time (at 27 pounds this becomes infinitely more difficult – thank goodness for the Ergo!).

    I think next time I’m feeling frustrated, trying to cook dinner with an unhappy, needy toddler (which for some reason seems to make my first child also unhappy and needy…at least at the moment), I will think about this post. And about how I’m not alone. And about the idea the gift of grace.ReplyCancel

  • Eden - I am SO glad you shared this! I feel like so many mothers feel like they are failing if they express in any way that they are having are hard time. There are so many joys that come with motherhood, but there are also very stressful times. It’s important that we are open about this, otherwise how can others know we need their help and support. Why do we feel the need to make it appear that we always have things perfectly under control? Good parenting is important, but we also need to realize that each child comes with a unique personality and challenges and try to be understanding to other mothers.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - All three of my children have been different. Each one high needs in their own way. My son (#3) is 14 months and still not sleeping through the night. He sleeps in bed with us and just needs snuggles throughout the night. He is just not ready yet and as tired as I am somedays that has to be okay with me. And until about 2 months ago never let me put him down. My best advise for all moms and I try my best to implement myself is to laugh a lot. I know it sound silly but during the worst moments if you laugh it releases seratonin which makes you happy. My oldest daughter sometimes asks me when she is angry why I am always so happy and peaceful and if that is what she thinks of me in my sleep exhaustion, really wanting to pull all my hair out state, then I think I must be doing something right!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy DeWeese - My daughter has always been an amazing sleeper. My son the total opposite. Baby Wise worked for him, but only after his started sleeping through the night at 8 1/2 months (we used it to get his naps longer than 10-20 min). I’m all for CIO when it works, but my son would cry all night! He ate for 45 min every hour and a half for the first three months. And my children are just under 12 months apart (talk about being exhausted!). After that, he ate for 30-45 min every three hours during the day until 8 months (at night he wanted to nurse ALL NIGHT LONG). The second I put him down at night, he screamed. I could lay in bed to feed him and he’d be fine. Let’s just say I’m incredibly thankful no one records what mothers say in the middle of the night. Once he got his night sleep to last 6 hours, I was able to incorporate Baby Wise and have success. It’s so frustrating to not be able to sleep. Yet there is another (completely innocent) child needing and wanting their Mommy. I don’t know how I managed, but its made me a lot more thankful for the nights of uninterrupted sleep I have now that my son is 19 months old :)ReplyCancel

  • Becky - At my Liam’s 6 month well baby visit, our pediatrician looked at me like I was crazy when I told her he was still nursing once or twice a night. So I went home and did some internet research. A few pediatricians said that most babies will night wean naturally at around 9 months without any training, and my gut told me that this was right and that my pediatrician was wrong. Sure enough, he started sleeping through the night right at the 9 month mark. I have to make sure he has plenty food during the day though, hunger is definitely the issue! On the odd night he randomly wakes up to nurse now at 10 months, I actually treasure it because it might be the last time. :)ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, seriously, I thank you for posting this. Obviously life is different now, but during months 3-9 of Ryann’s life I was depressed. She wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t sleeping, I thought it was all my fault, I was miserable, grumpy, etc. I read various books on sleep and tried to follow the right schedules, but nothing was working. We did eventually use the Ferber method, and as much as I hated it, it was a life changer for us. But that feeling of failure for that stretch where she just wouldn’t sleep was overwhelming. I resented her. I resented my husband (for getting to sleep since he had to work of course). I hated myself. In my head it was all my fault.

    I’m hoping this time around I either A) get an easy baby who loves to sleep (wouldn’t that be nice?) or B) have a better understanding of babies, myself, mothering, etc, and can cope and handle better.

    You are a huge inspiration to me, and I can only hope to be half the person and mother that you are. Thank you for sharing your experiences, both the good and the difficult.ReplyCancel

  • McLain - I am so sorry that the last 9 months have been so darn difficult for you. I completely understand. My first child was a high needs baby. I read all of those Dr Sears articles 5 years ago :) They gave me a lot comfort. People recommended Baby Wise to me, and I remember reading it and knowing right away that it wouldn’t work for my baby. Tried it out a bit, and sure enough, did not work. She was just a high needs baby, period. It was a rough first year. I tried everything too. We finally did CIO when she was about 7-8 months old, because the amount of sleep I was getting was ridiculous, and I was just miserable. She was always hungry too, and needed to be held all the time. I cried all the time too :) She did sleep better when I stopped nursing at 13 months, so who knows about that. My second baby was a breeze compared to my first. That is when I truly realized that babies are just different and sometimes you just get lucky with an easy baby, and things that work with one baby may not work with another. I honestly don’t remember when she fully slept thought the night, but she definitely had a lot of sleep issues for several years…night terrors, waking a lot, not staying in bed, etc. When we put out kids together in the same room, a lot of those issues helped immensely, and I can finally say that sleep is okay in our house (my kids are 5 and 3)! I will say that my oldest is still an intense kid. She is passionate, she is strong-willed, she is smart, she is dramatic. She’s a lot of fun too. But that’s the personality that she’s had since she was 2 days old, literally. I wish I could give you more advice. Hang in there! It really does get better at some point and you’ll look back in a few years and the details of the horror will be fuzzy (at least that’s how I feel) :) Oh, and I think one of the biggest things that helped me was having supportive friends. My friends knew it was rough for me, and they were always offering to hold her at dinner and other events, or just hanging out at my house.ReplyCancel

  • ashley - Wow! While (trying to be rational/realistic) I wouldn’t put my son in the difficult category -pretty sure for us it’s more like spoiled – I have endured the don’t-put-me-down phase. And that phase was conquered by the swing phase (90% of naps in there for about 2 months), which we are just in our 3rd week of conquering and 99% of the naps being in his crib. But, we conquered that by putting our baby down asleep, which has all of a sudden led us to the no-one-can-put-me-down-but-mommy-and-daddy phase. Which, ok I’ll take that we are having pretty good success with naps and average success with all night sleeps. But it also led to another spot to feel like a failure when we left him with Grammy like we’ve done a handful times before, and all of a sudden he wouldn’t nap for her because she wasn’t Mommy and Daddy. Each phase has come with a moment of realization that we had something to “fix” and instantly a moment of feeling like a failure on my part since I became a stay-at-home mom last minute. And while I will admit we did spoil him, especially in the beginning using his preemieness as the excuse, we also loved him a.lot. And this many phases in, we are learning to count our successes (like transitioning to the crib with minimal issues, even if it means we put him down asleep now), knowing that we can do this one step at a time. And with encouragement from people like you! Oh, there have been difficult days, but when we learn to let ourselves cry and to also celebrate the successes or to not let ourselves judge ourselves by others’ experiences, we can get to the joy and embrace each child’s uniqueness.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - This was a wonderful post, thank you. My first is only a couple weeks younger than Everett, and while our stories are different, your words have helped me progress toward being at peace with our story so far.

    My daughter is a lot like your Caroline. She slept through the night very early, and is a happy, easygoing baby. Our breastfeeding experience, however, was hands down the hardest thing I have ever done. I knew without a doubt I wanted to breastfeed, and would do anything to succeed. Before her birth, I took classes, read books, and generally prepared myself as fully as possible. I thought as long as I worked hard, it would work. Well, long story short, it didn’t. We saw several LC’s, a pediatric ENT, tried every drug, herb, tea and tincture available, followed a strict nursing/pumping regimen, and I still had to supplement 1/3 to 1/2 her milk with formula. I didn’t sleep because I pumped throughout the night. I was miserable, and depressed. After 3 months, I stopped nursing and went to exclusively pumping in an effort to get as much breastmilk in her as possible. I finally stopped pumping at almost 7 months. I still struggle every day, every hour, with the guilt and inadequacy. I am filled with so much anxiety at the thought of having another baby and having to go through that experience again. Your words, although they do not address my issue, help me cope with the challenges motherhood has brought me. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - You crack me up……”It was hard. REALLY hard. Like, go get your vasectomy NOW hard”, this is gold.
    Thanks for finding|taking the time to post this.
    Wishing you and me more sleep.ReplyCancel

  • Marina - Beautifully written post. I had the opposite with a difficult first baby (who was like Everett in pretty much every way) and an easy second baby (who sounds a lot like Caroline). Sometimes we are given challenges so that we may emerge with more grace and wisdom … your post exemplifies that. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Meg - I sympathize completely. My son (just turned 2) would be categorized as “high needs” as well. My “aha” moment came at 13 months. I know, 13 MONTHS!!! But alas, it did take that long. I started to wean him and he just….stopped nursing altogether and started sleeping through the night within a week. So…time and maturity are what it took for us. The second major step was when he started walking (finally, after 19 months). Then life became fun. Needless to say, my husband and I are now not planning on having another. Simon will be an only child because we are having so much FUN right now, we just can’t stomach the idea of another year of a difficult child. I have finally reconnected with parents of his contemporaries that I literally cut off all contact with because their babies were just so damn easy and mine wasn’t. They just didn’t get it and I found myself getting physically angry with them when we spoke. So…I stopped. Until now. Now my high needs son is a very smart son who I can brag about!ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - Thank you sooo much for sharing =) Both of my boys didn’t sleep through the night until 8 months despite all of the BabyWise techniques that we followed. It’s so hard to watch other praise something and assume that you’ve messed up the technique…in turn cause you to doubt yourself!!!!! So glad to know I’m not alone!!!ReplyCancel

  • Danita - Thank you for sharing. It makes me feel like I am not alone. My second was a high need baby, actually scratch that, he is STILL high needs even at age 2. He screams ALOT, and it seems like he’s never happy. I feel guilty, I feel sad, I feel mad, I still feel exhausted, but I know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank to you I know I’m not going at this alone.ReplyCancel

  • Turi Clough - I know exactly how you felt. My story is a little different. My first born was HIGH high need, she sounds a lot like your son. She was born premature and has struggled with sleep to this day (she is four), my second daughter screamed non-stop for the first 8 weeks of her life, I was so scared that I had another high need baby and was never going to get a break (sounds awful but it is the way I felt through all the exhaustion). At exactly 8 weeks old she turned into the best little baby…happy, sleeping AWESOME and everything was joyful, even our oldest daughter started sleeping independently and through the night FINALLY!!! Then the unthinkable happened….at 3 1/2 months old she was physically abused by the hands of our daycare providers husband. This shattered our happy baby and everyone else in our family as well. Luckily by the grace of God she was going to be fine, however she had a broken rib which made it nearly impossible for her to sleep. She would only sleep sitting up and bundles very tightly. Well from that moment on until she was about 1 year old she woke up every hour on the hour every night. I quit my job to stay home with my girls so I took over night time duty with the girls so my husband could be rested for work. During this time not only was I up every hour every night but my oldest daughter is now too afraid to sleep by herself or with the lights off. To this day my now 16 month old and 4 year old wake up at least 3-4 times a night!! It is slowly getting better, perhaps I will try some egg yolk for them both!!!ReplyCancel

  • Heather M. - I’ve never commented before but I just want to say thank you. Thank you SO much for writing this. I have felt so judged by parents with easy-going, textbook babies who slept through the night right off the bat when mine didn’t sleep through the night until they were much, much older. This quote:

    “When your baby starts sleeping through the night, people will invariably say, “You’re just lucky,” or “You’ve got an easy baby.” Neither statement is true. Your baby is sleeping through the night because you trained him or her to do so. You can take the credit for your success.”

    That quote brought to mind again something so painful my BIL said to me: “It’s no accident our child sleeps as well as he does. We’ve trained him too.”

    I tried everything and felt like such a failure when my kids wouldn’t sleep. And when he said that, it was like heaping burning coals on my head.

    My daughter, just turned 6 and she still doesn’t need much sleep. 10 hours is normal for her and has been since she gave up naps at 2 years old. It still kills me some days but she’s exactly like my husband and his family.

    My son was 15 months before he slept through the night and now he’s an awesome sleeper (he’s 4 now). It just took a really long time.

    And the biggest reason my husband had a vasectomy when our kids were little was the lack of sleep and crying and having to hold them all. the time. I just can’t go there again.

    Anyway, I could go on and on. Sleep can be such a hot topic. I just wanted to say thank you for showing grace, for being brave and writing this post. It means the world to me, brought some healing I didn’t know I was in need of. :)ReplyCancel

  • FDH - My daughter O was a high needs baby. Born very late (2 weeks) via Emergency- C after 54 hours of labor, and a BLISSFUL, low medical intervention pregnancy… out came this 10 lb. beauty. 10/10 APGAR

    O did not sleep ever. She ate every 90 minutes. Then when I kind of thought I was figuring out nursing my first baby (4ish weeks) she began to cry, and did not stop until she was 6 months old. She cried. I cried. So we cried. We cried from 2:10pm to 11:50pm every day for about 5 months. Husband and I wore every carrier on the market, we wore holes in our carpet from pacing, I owned more than one type of swing, we took car rides, we tried (failed attempt) at supplementing (she never loved a bottle), we bought every product someone mentioned may help. We read every book. I cried for five months. I agree with you completely, I loved her with my soul and heart, I did not like her. Obviously a vicious story of colic.. but she was high needs.

    She never really got “easy”, but we cry a lot less. I know her. She knows me. We survived colic, and I like her. Our turning point was like a light switch. One day she just didn’t cry. I have no secret…

    To all the Mamas, trust your gut, not the guy who wrote a book and never met your babe.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - Thank you for this post. Sitting reading it with my four week old son on my lap after a rough night of no sleep. I’m a first time mom wondering what the next year of my life is going to look like if this no sleeping continues and feeling horrible for sometimes wondering if I even like this little person (usually sometime around 4am ; ). Thank you for the exhale.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy B - I’m glad things are getting better. My daughter just turned 7, and my son is 16-1/2 months. I’d consider both fairly easy….strangers & friends always comment on how happy they are, how they never see them cry or throw a fit, which is true. What they don’t see is how they simply don’t like to sleep. I struggled, and still struggle now with my son. I’ve tried every trick in the book…some work better than others. The good news is, at least in the case of my daughter, it gets better with age. While I’m so very sorry E has been so high needs, I have to admit when my son was a newborn and I first found your blog and read all about Caroline & what you were do to prep for your new baby (whipping out slipcovers, bedding, etc.), I thought “what am I doing WRONG? Why could I never get all of this stuff accomplished when my daughter was younger, or while having a newborn!” If I managed to get a shower and myself & my family fed & dressed, it was a successful day! Even when my daughter was in her toddler/preschool years, I didn’t have as much free time as you seemed to have to accomplish such task, at least not on a regular basis. While I would call her a fairly easy child, she just didn’t seem to require much sleep, and when she was sleeping, I was doing the same to keep up with her! So PLEASE don’t take this wrong, but I am glad to see you are human, as am I, and every other mama out there. I think we Mommas are harder on each other and more judgmental that we should be, but I am truly happy you posted this and that you’re feeling more joy than not. From my previous experience, it gets better, but it takes time. My boy is a joy, really, but it’s maddening, to say the least, when I just want him to sleep, and he has other plans! However, I know it’s just a season of our life right now. The days are long, but the years so very short!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - This is my first comment. Thanks for including us in your journey; I always enjoy your well-worded, colorful posts.
    Re: this article… Ask anyone I know and they will tell you I have the happiest, easy baby boy they’ve ever met. My friends joke that they’ve never heard him cry and it’s true- during the day this mellow 10 month old is truly a joy. But I have never once slept through the night. People wonder how I can be so exhausted with such an easy baby, they can’t believe it when I tell them how he wakes up every night screaming with teething pain, growing pain, hunger… and how I work to soothe him back to sleep. ‘He really should be sleeping through the night by now’ they say with a look that shows it’s obviously my fault for not following ‘the rules’. Tisk, Tisk.
    Well, I feel like I’ve tried everything that feels right. I’ve read all the advice. We follow a consistant bedtime routine. Most nights he just wakes up once, some nights he wakes up 3 times. There’s been a few nights that he’s slept through, but then I still wake up out of habit.
    Well, he’s eating bigger meals now and growing so fast. I am blessed that he’s healthy and well-adjusted. So, until this phase passes- I will remind myself to trust my instincts, struggle to find some positive spark in the toughest moments… and will continue to brave the admonishing looks of disapproval and well-meaning advice with a smile on my tired face.ReplyCancel

  • Jordan Jensen - hi shawna – i have to tell you how much i appreciate you writing this blog. i actually read your original babywise blog when my little guy (now one year) was about 8 weeks old. i actually remember feeling like a failure when i read both the book and then your blog. it was supposed to be so easy. i should have been able to figure this whole, sleep/wake/eat pattern. i thought there had to be something wrong with me and my mom-skills. wyatt was also pretty high needs there at the beginning. very similar to everett :) you do an amazing job. your honesty is so appreciated. the fact that you’ve seen both sides of the fence makes you that much more relatable. it makes your story that much more rich and meaningful. it gives you that much more perspective. and allows your readers to feel less lonely. wyatt also turned around at 8 months. but that being said, he turned one last week and we just dropped the dream feed. he’s finally sleeping through the night. it only took 12 months :). solids totally help, napping helps, routine helps. but at the end of the day, you called it – every baby is different. every stage, generally speaking is short. by the time you think you have it figured out, the babe switches gears on you. but it gets better and better. it gets more fun. you like your baby more and more (the love never changes :) as you said!). thanks again for your post! keep ’em comin’!ReplyCancel

  • Brooke - So glad to see you post this–thank you!! My first is high needs and hard as it was, I’m so thankful that I got that with my first! Our second is due in January and even if she’s just as difficult, at least I know what I’m getting myself into! I can’t imagine being blindsided by a high needs #2 after an angel #1!!ReplyCancel

  • Miriam - My first 2 babies were pretty easy babies! (I was never into Babywise– most moms I knew who used it ended up with breastmilk supply issues, so I chose to nurse on demand to keep a good milk supply.)Then my 3rd baby came. And he is pretty much like your Everett! He is now 17 months, still 100% breastfeeding, because he refuses to eat solids. I know he’d be happier and sleep better if he ate, but I’m trying to not force him, but teach him to LIKE his food! He literally didn’t nap at all for the first 12 months, and until he could crawl (11 months) I had to hold him most of the day. Things that helped me were to realize that instead of being frustrated that I had to hold him instead of do housework or help my other kids, I could use that time to relax (to make up for the many times I’m up at night!). Also I learned to look for those tiny windows of opportunity and use them wisely. If he’d be happy in the swing for 10 minutes, then do a quick kitchen clean-up. For some reason, he liked the colors of “Finding Nemo”, so I’d let him watch that movie and get some laundry loaded. Instead of being frustrated at this really strange schedule, I had to learn to work with it. Instead of fighting his many night feedings and letting him cry until he puked, thus losing more sleep–I just accepted that I’d have to feed him 5 times a night, and do it as quickly as possible so he’d stay calm. One hard issue is that my husband and the grandparents tend to see my baby as a spoiled mama’s boy, and for a child like my first two they are right, treatment like that would be overboard! But bottom line is, I’m the mamma, I know that he needs that extra “spoiling” to meet his needs! He will grow out of nursing all night, and he will eventually be happy without me around. But helping him become a well-adjusted, secure little guy is much more important at this point than forcing him to be a “big boy”. Keep up the good work!ReplyCancel

  • Jacqueline - I can so relate to this! My first daughter was such an easy baby. She slept well at night, napped well, and has always been very easy going and still is. Our second daughter screamed from the minute we brought her home and didn’t stop for ten weeks. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I played with my diet and ended up cutting out gluten and it did wonders. But still she wanted to be held at every moment, morning and night. The car, an absolute nightmare. She would scream so hard that I would start crying. It was awful. So I invested in a few new baby carriers and wore her all day long, naps and all. I also stopped driving as much as I possibly could (which wasn’t easy bc I had my three year old that needed to play and get out of the house).

    Around six months things started to ease up and she calmed down significantly. She started sitting and then army crawling within a few weeks of each other and started napping in her crib around four months. I still wore her most of the day until she was really crawling, but now that she’s 14 months and has been walking for several months things are so much easier!

    the one thing that saved my sanity was that she has always slept through the night. From the day we brought her home, she has gone down for the night around 7:30 and wakes up about 12 hours later. She wakes to nurse, but she sleeps in bed with me so I never had to actually wake. At this point she wakes once or twice in the night (unless cutting a tooth, those weeks are ROUGH).

    All in all, knowing I wasn’t alone, and knowing it wasn’t anything I was doing was so helpful. I had a very rough time when my first daughter was born, a huge lack of support left me very lonely and depressed for quite a while. If there’s anything I would recommend to new moms, it’s find some supportive mama friends, they are invaluable!!ReplyCancel

  • Brittany - Thank you so much for your encouraging and compassionate words. As I read your comment about ‘its not your fault, you can get through this’, it brought me such comfort. Sometimes it feels like moms are at war with one another and so quick to place judgement or offer up how their little angel slept through the night right from the hospital…Lately I have been struggling with mommy guilt. I only have a 9 month old but I feel guilty about the littlest of things. Examples, dropping her off at child care, when I hear her cry before she falls asleep for a nap, when I have her out around town when I have to run errands, when I keep her in the house all day…I know all this sounds silly but I know I’m not alone in this irrational thinking. Moms, what do you do you fight off these feelings???ReplyCancel

  • melissa - Thank you so much! I’m in the middle of this with my 5th and so tearful reading your post. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Emilee - My first baby was a horrible sleeper and I was a zombie for the first 8 months. With my second, I just wished for a better sleeper. I got it a little bit, but mostly I think I learned to cope and find what worked for me rather than what the books said I should be doing. She slept with me a lot at first. Then I slowly moved her a mattress on the floor in our room. And now at 11 months she sleeps in her own room in a crib most of the night. But she still wakes up two or three times a night. This time around I’ve heard many mothers say that their babies didn’t sleep through the night until they were completely weaned (why didn’t anyone tell me that with #1?). So I’m looking forward to that. I’ve wanted to try your egg yolk thing, but I have egg allergies and have been advised to wait a while longer before feeding it to my baby. But I have it filed away as something to try when she’s a little older.ReplyCancel

  • Michel - I don’t even know how I got to this page because I was trying to find a fruit punch recipe and some how got on here. But I think it was meant to be because I had a huge sigh of relife reading this. My first, a daughter slept through the night early and never went back. My second, a son, slept through the night at two months but at six months he started getting up 1-3 times a night and hasn’t stopped! He is 10months now. It is good to know I am not alone. Tried your boiled egg yoke last night and he only woke up once! I’m hopefully to try it again and maybe that will be my key. He seems to have a stomach that runs on empty all the time no mater what I feed him.ReplyCancel

  • LIz - I feel your pain. Both of my girls have been AMAZING (they are my 1st & 3rd) My son, our middle child made me feel the same as you. We found out when he was 9 months he had an ear infection, by 12 months it hadn’t cleared and the dr said that he was probably suffering from them for months. Once he got tubes he was a dream baby, it was a total 180. I wish all the moms out there love and sleep! It will come, it will.ReplyCancel

  • Keri - I’ll admit I have felt like a failure many times because I just couldn’t get my baby to “do what the book said.” I totally judged other moms before I had my own when they didn’t have babies sleeping through the night and on a perfect schedule. Life has taught me not to do that anymore:)
    I know you wrote about getting back in shape after having your daughter. What has that been like since having your son?ReplyCancel

  • Marie - Thank you for this! I come check out your site every once in a while and remembered that you had baby food recipes; and saw this. My third son is not like my other 2…and hopefully some of what I’ve read will help. And hearing someone say it’s not my fault for a change is nice.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Williams - where is the orange and white polka dot crib sheet from?ReplyCancel

  • the status update » styleberry BLOG - […] had him. I was overextended, over committed and convinced I could do it all. There is nothing like a high-maintenance baby to teach you a little lesson about what really matters in life. Top of that list (behind feeding […]ReplyCancel

  • Katrina - So glad I read this today! After having three boys who had their moments, but were for the most part “easy babies”, I just assumed my fourth, a girl, was difficult simply because she wasn’t a boy. The 12 features of a high needs baby describe her completely!

    Now I’m off to boil some eggs haha :)ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - Just happened upon your blog and found this article….Thank you so much for your honesty. I have a 21 month old high needs baby boy and am surrounded by other mamas with very laid back babies. I had a perfect pregnancy, was never sick or tired. We decided upon a natural home birth with a midwife, doula and chiropractor. My delivery was very smooth but looking back we can see indications of his little personality even then. Zion was born after 14 hours of very hard labor and 3 hours of pushing. He was already 2 weeks late and then even when I did go into labor was so obstinate about coming out. Little did we know that these were little indications of our very strong willed baby,who has known what he wanted and has refused to back down from it since his first day. He nursed about 20 hours a day, by 3 months old was waking up every 45 min and only slept about 20 min at a time throughout the day. Our saving grace was that Zion has been one of the most secure, confident, personable and happy babies we have ever known, which was our purpose for parenting Dr. Sears way. What we hadn’t expected was a baby who wanted skin to skin contact all the time, never slept, ate almost 24 hours a day and didn’t give a second of breathing space. I have lost friendships from these “perfect mamas” who think they have this parenting thing down and don’t understand why my husband and I have thought it was so difficult. I have questioned myself and my mothering ability and have felt like the biggest failure because I couldn’t get my baby on a schedule, while other mamas have said , “if your baby is not napping and sleeping through the night, it’s your fault because you refuse to take the time to train them.” I have cried more tears than I can count from exhaustion, frustration and hurt. My sweet Zion at 21 months old still does not sleep through the night and will only take a nap cradled in my arms BUT I wouldn’t change him a bit. I had to shut out all the know it alls and perfect mamas who wanted to let me know everything I was doing wrong and exactly how I failed. For me, I’ve had to focus on what my end result is for my sweet boy which is for him to be a confident, secure, happy and a loving person. The process may and has been difficult but if it brings about the desired result it’s been worth every tear, and sleepless night. Each day we see him growing into such a wonderful little person. He is our joy and delight and the apple of our eye (even at 1:30 in the morning:). I appreciate mamas like you, who are willing to be open and honest to help new mamas, like me out. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - Thank you thank you thank you….I am that first time mama who can’t get Babywise to work. I am the first time mama who has a zillion friends who all had babies around the same time as me and have perfect little Babywisers…

    I have sat and cried many many times feeling like a failed mommy because I can’t get my son (almost 6 months now) to STTN.

    Thank you. I will read this over and over again.

    PS- gonna try the egg yolk thing. :-) He LOVES to eat but is very petite. He is already on stage 2 foods and eats alot yet only weighs 13 pounds. I try to give Avacados for protein but I think he needs more…ReplyCancel

  • Kim Kauffman - I wish this post had been around two years ago when my daughter was born and NEVER SLEPT. I could never put her down, she rarely took naps (30 minutes or so at best) and at our worst, was waking up screaming every hour through the night, even when in bed with me. I had to go to bed at 7:30 every night just to get her to even go to sleep. I was so completely overwhelmed and depressed and this lasted until she was 9 months. In her defense, she had terrible acid reflux but it was just horrible. The whole thing about loving them but not liking them is so true. I battled serious resentment too. But now she’s two and hilarious and I love our life with her. But we’re expecting number two in June and I’m not going to lie – I’m just praying this is a different experience this time!!ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - This article helped me have a patient, grace-filled attitude the first time I read it a few months ago, and now, with a 5-month old, I needed to read it again. After being told that its NOT NORMAL for my baby to not be sleeping through the night, and how my friend taught her baby to STTN at 6 weeks, its so encouraging to read this again. There really is never an occasion to brag about your parenting successes or to insinuate that others have failed where you have succeeded.ReplyCancel

  • Cary - Well, your “high maintenance” baby is absolutely gorgeous!! He is beautiful!! So glad y’all are sleeping better!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - Thanks so much for this article. I found it in an early morning bleary eyed search last week and it gave me hope. I found myself saying ‘Yes!’ several times while reading. We have a 5-wk old that was determined to fight sleep at all costs. Lots of screaming, lots of insanity. Since then I found a gal’s blog on infant sleep that has some great gentle tactics and information. They have been working for us when nothing else did. We’ve been following the baby swing advice so far.

    I just felt like sharing with all the other sleep hungry mammas and papas out there in case it can help someone else.

    Thanks again for sharing your story. I loved reading it when I was in my darkest hours (literally and figuratively). And your photos are gorgeous. I wish I lived closer so you could take photos of our munchkin that look that yummy.

    Seattle, WAReplyCancel

  • Amanda - I am so thankful for this article! I too had an easy first child who slept through the night very early on. She napped like a pro and slept on average 18 hours a day! Now for #2 who has had me on my toes since birth. She is generally a happy baby who loves to play. That is actually part of the problem though. She plays when it is nap time, bed time, and feeding time. She seems to only need 14-15 hours a day and 12 of those are split during the night. She is now 9 months and things are improving. She naps at 9 and 1 and bedtime is between 5-6 with a wake up at 3. Solids have been my saving grace but only when she wants to eat them. Currently it is rice cereal, squash and pears. She snubs everything else. She still wakes at the 45min mark most times but is learning to fall back asleep with out me. I feel like the noise police because I am constantly shooshing everyone to keep quite as not to wake the baby. With my first you could have blown a fog horn next to her crib and she would have slept through it. I am learning to cope but it hasn’t been easy and the 4-6 hours I get a night are not my normal 8 hours. I am cranky and frustrated on the days she decides not to nap and then wakes often during the night. I am trying to remember it wont last forever so thank you for the reminder to enjoy them and this too will pass!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - Thank you for this, for your honesty. I am 5 weeks in…ReplyCancel

  • A little faith. » styleberry BLOG - […] then I didn’t sleep for nine months. & I had no help. & no patience. & no idea how I was going to survive. I had no time […]ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Oh I’m so glad I’m not alone. I also have spent many-a-hour crying, feeling like a failed mother. The hardest part of being a first time mom with a child that doesnt sleep has been the lack of support from friends and family. Their babies were all sleeping through the night by 6 weeks and so they naturally have no empathy or understanding. I’ve stopped going to them for help because it has just deteriorated my confidence. I’m just so glad their are blogs and posts like this to help :) thank you xoxReplyCancel

  • Shani - Thank you so much for this article. I’m a first time mom and I really did feel like a failure the first couple of months with my son. All my friends seemed to have it easy…whereas I went through one horrible event after another. First it was failed breastfeeding (due to my son having a tongue tie), then I tried pumping and got blocked ducts DAILY (so painful!!), then my son had colic for 10 weeks till we found out he had silent reflux. After reflux meds and putting him on a hypoallergenic formula his crying improved but he still had colic till 3 months. This ofcourse meant that I had to donate all the milk I’d pumped so painstakingly (even very restrictive diets hadn’t improved my son’s reaction to my milk). And to top things off I got postpartum depression so badly that I’d start shaking and having panic attacks in the morning. Once the colic passed, then my baby had diarrhea for 3 weeks including 2 days of blood in his poop. This just really freaked me out.
    As for sleep, from birth to his current age of 6 months, he would wake up every 1 hour at night if we were lucky…sometimes he’d wake every 15 mins and I’d have to bounce him. Somedays I kept rocking and bouncing him so much that I’d be sweating like a pig. As for naps – they were non existent. He’d sleep 20 mins for a nap. I felt horrible that he wasn’t getting the recommended amount of sleep despite all my efforts. I went to great lengths to help his sleep. The first 3 months I slept in a rocking chair all night while holding him. Now at 6 months, I sleep next to him in bed and bottle feed him every 30 mins to help him stay asleep. Once he’s awake someone has to always be holding him. My poor husband and I have had so little time to interact with each other or anyone outside. I feel like I’ve gone through hell and though I love my son to death, I fear so many times that I’ll be living this hellish lifestyle for a long while. I once dreamed of having 2 kids…after this baby, I think all my reserves have been used up!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Thank you! I am crying with frustraton as I read this.ReplyCancel

  • Robin - This is my son! My older son was like your daughter– a babywise dream. But my younger son is just how you described. I have tried everything and felt like a complete failure. He is 8 months old and last night I gave him an egg yolk and he slept for 11 hours last night! Tears of joy!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - I must say I love your blog and am a proud owner of your style berry (it keeps me sane) ; ) I am having a bit of a down fall lately with my LO. She was getting her last feeding at 8:30 and sleeping until 4:30 or 5:00 am (she is 12 weeks). I thought this was great because towards the end I was noticing 5 and 5:30, but just last week it all went down hill. She started waking up at 11:30 and then sometimes 1:30. I would only feed her if I couldn’t calm her back to sleep, but she would only drink 2 ounces. Any idea why she would be doing this? This just started last week and it happened 4 out of 7 days last week. Please give me some advice. She is formula fed and takes around 23-24 ounces a day.ReplyCancel

    • -shawna- - I am no expert! I would check if she was going through a “wonder week” that may explain some abnormalities. I swear by them. They were dead on for us. WW makes a great app! Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Kerri - Thank you so much for writing this. Seriously. Thank you. My son was an extremely difficult baby, and is sometimes a difficult toddler. He had reflux. He had milk protein allergy. He has had 13 ear infections and is 18 months old. I never sleep, like EVER. I am expecting a daughter in 5 months, and I am terrified. I believe I have PTSD from my son, a little dramatic I guess but it was really really rough. I am bookmarking your post to help me when she is born. I never tried babywise, but I tried the E.A.S.Y. method which is really similar. Nothing worked because he needed mom, he was just too sick. I am really scared about being that sleep deprived again, but it really helps to know that you went through it and survived.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - My Angel (lol cause he seems anything but) will be 3 in a month. I am glad you found relief in 11 mos. But I am here to encourage those who do not. My little tyke still co-sleeps because he needs my presence to remain calm and asleep. Hewill sleep for 12 hours if I am beside him. He has sensory integration problems. The slightest thing will cause a catastrophic melt down into a screaming, crying fit. He is not autistic. He is not a cuddler much to my dismay. He is an extremely curious boy. The Out of Sync Child was recommended to me by his therapist. A therapist you ask, why yes because I am only human and need someone to help explain this child to me. His needs, discipline style, curiosity change so quickly that I can barely keep up. Did I mention he has GERD, and food allergies. He barely maintains weight, eats like a bird, and still requires pediasure to maintain his weight. What he will eat one day is not what he will eat the next. It’s a constant merry go round. He amazes me everyday, I love him more every day. His intelligence is through the roof as are his tantrums.

    Hang in there moms get the tools you need to be the best mom you can. High needs babies come with some awesome rewards. Grace, patience, understanding, empathy, and compassion.ReplyCancel

  • Minou - Bless you for coming clean. Too many “experts” have all the answers and convince their readers that the method is beyond question and if it doesn’t work, then it must be YOU. I observe young moms–smug or desperate, depending on which kind of kid they’re working with at the moment–and wish somebody would just tell them the truth and spare them–and their kids–a lot of heartache. You’ve done just that, in a way they might be able to hear. Kudos.

    Kids are just different. Ask any sibling set over the age of 20 whether they were raised the same, and they’ll laugh at you for even asking. Every kid is different and needs different parenting, and sleeping/eating patterns are just the start of that trend. My babies were different from each other from the moment of birth…and they challenged us mightily…then, and now. It should’ve been a cakewalk: we’re educated and did all the “right” research,” older, thoughtful, financially set…blah, blah, blah. We all lived. :D They’re older teens now, and they bring us a lot of joy. They ARE different, difficult in their own ways/easy in their own ways, even now, so we parent each one according to what they need in order to be balanced and productive and happy. And yeah, THAT method of parenting helps us sleep better at night, too.

    Bless you for loving your boy through Round 1, and for sharing your struggle and relieving others of the lie of perfection!ReplyCancel

  • heather - This was my first child, a boy, to the t. I try to explain this to my friend who had an easy (comparatively) child, but she does not believe me. Long ago, I eventually came to terms with the fact that all the books were wrong for my child and just did what he asked for. I Held him, coslept, and let him eat as much as he wanted. It was hard, but it passed. As with you, introducing solids ended the terror. He trained me well. His little sister is not nearly as demanding, but I don’t argue either. Because I started out Co sleeping, getting enough sleep has not been an issue with her. She eats as much as she wants. And we are all happy.ReplyCancel

  • Colleen - I just found your blog and this is the first post I read, which is interesting considering you could be writng about my first and second daughters. I still remember her first Thanksgiving as I sat in church with tears streaming down my face having been up every 20 minutes all night and she was 6 months old! It was a wicked fever that finally gave my girl more than 2 hours of sleep in a row and then things steadily improved. Now at 2.5 she still takes a long time to settle and naps are a thing of the past but having gone through that crazy struggle makes it easier to chill out with baby number 3 who is now 3 months old and a medium sleeper! Looking forward to reading more of your posts!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - THank you for this post — I was really starting to feel alienated by Baby Wise. It’s a great book and similar to Baby Whisperer, which was a helpful resource to us with our firstborn. She was a Touchy baby but thankfully started sleeping through the night at about 12 weeks. I can’t remember when she started doing longer stretches… I wish I could remember, though, because we’re almost 10 weeks down the road with baby #2 and she is just HUN.GRY. So gassy and fussy, too, and she has reflux and “textbook” colic (rule of 3’s applies to us for sure). ANYway we don’t have it as bad as many of the posters here, but Nora (our second) has yet to go more than 5 hours between feedings and she’s only done that once or twice. It’s more like 2-3 hours, day and night, every single day, every single night. I weaned her after my 4th case of mastitis and I thought as a bonus, formula would keep her fuller longer, but not so. I read Baby Wise at a friend’s recommendation and it might as well have been in Japanese. What “Baby” is this dude talking about who magically just “merges” his night feedings 5 weeks after being born? Not this baby over here. We’re doing all the stuff. Feed, Wake, Sleep. 3 hour intervals during the day. Consistent wakeup time. Drowsy but awake. Darkened nursery with white noise and her own crib, elevated 30 degrees. Every single g*****n night is the exact same. I keep putting in my time and waiting for a change to come, but after reading your post, I think I should just throw this book out the window. It’s creating false hope. After all, isn’t it the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results?ReplyCancel

  • Mar - Just found this old post, and I’m glad to see you coping so well. It is true that you need to consider your child’s personality as well as yours when following any program, because trying to follow a program that’s not working will just make you feel like a failure. And though every expert has some helpful tips, it helps to make sure they are genuine experts. Ezzo has no real credentials and Babywise is supported by no research at all. Ditto Attachment Parenting as practiced by Sears. That doesn’t mean there aren’t strategies they use that will work for you, but just keep in mind that there is nothing in those approaches tried and true enough for you to feel bad if they don’t work. If they do, good for you! Ferber, by contrast, is actually supported by science, and he tends to be a lot less doctrinaire about his approach (telling you, in fact, you may well need to wake up babies for feeding depending on the circumstances). No guilt, moms. Courage.ReplyCancel

  • Seasons » styleberry BLOG - […] seem to say that a lot. It’s been the story of my life. Life married to a resident. Life with non-sleeping newborns. Life that was hard. It was just a season. But it really all is. As the colors change and the winds […]ReplyCancel

  • Becoming a Morning Person. For Real. » styleberry BLOG - […] while it was still dark outside, by a child who just wouldn’t sleep another second. (As if that was anything new.) What could I do? How could I make this […]ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Bond - I am so grateful to have found this blog post. This is exactly what I’m going through right now with my almost 7-week old son. I’ve read Baby Wise and done my best to follow to advice to no avail. Sometimes my son just won’t sleep no matter what and sometimes it takes 20-30 minutes of holding and rocking and shushing and swaddling for him to fall asleep in my arms then scream when he’s put down or sleep 20 minutes and scream again. I’ve tried seeing if he’ll eat more, but he gets halfway through his bottle and cries and refuses to eat. I’m a first time mom so I kept wondering what I was doing wrong. This helps me feel like there’s nothing wrong with me or my son.ReplyCancel

  • Jane - Thank you for your post. I bawled all the way through it. I have tried loose and rigid versions of Babywise with my daughter and she just won’t cooperate. I hate it. I feel like it is my fault she won’t sleep and that I ruined her. I am a first-time (and thinking only-time these last few weeks) mom not enjoying my baby who will not sleep during the day and regresses a lot at night. I resent her. I hate me. She’s frustrated with me. It’s tragic really, because even though she won’t sleep and she cries a lot when she’s overly tired, she’s actually a very happy and sweet baby during her optimal wake time. She’s just an incurable cat napper, it seems. She wakes up smiling at me 20 minutes into a nap, those eyelids refusing to close again and I find myself furious with her for not sleeping until the next feeding. It’s not right. Granted, id pay a huge sum of money to have her allow me to set her down during naps so I can have some me time, but it’s just not right.

    Thank you for letting me know that sometimes it just doesn’t work. Again, I feel like it should in my case because my baby actually sleeps fairly well at night half the time… but she just won’t have it. I’m throwing in the towel. I’m letting my baby have her little personality and I am going to love and appreciate her for it. Im not going to resent her for not doing what the book says she is supposed to be doing.ReplyCancel

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