Bad Habits

HandsWhen you are a new parent, people will tell you not to start any bad habits with your child. Do not nurse or rock or walk her to sleep. Do not hold him too much. Do not pick her up every time she cries. And on and on and on.

But when you have a high need baby and it is midnight and your child has been crying since six in the evening, you are ready to do whatever it takes to get your child to sleep.

So when Livi just would not sleep unless we walked and rocked and nursed her, that is exactly what we did. Did we start a bad habit? Probably. Would she have slept any other way? Most definitely not.

My instincts told me to do what I felt was right at that moment. My child was overtired and miserable and desperately needed to sleep. And so did we. So we did what we had to do and we all got at least some rest.

When you are a new parent, it is hard to follow your own instincts. I did not have much experience with babies, and I certainly had no experience with a high need baby. I was exhausted and tired and overwhelmed and it took all my strength to take care of my little unhappy baby.

I had advice coming in from all directions. Everyone told me something different but no one encouraged me to do what I felt was right.

Eventually, however, after listening to everyone else, I started listening to myself and slowly but surely we found our own rhythm, our own solutions, and our own routines. I was still insecure and worried about everything, but when I started to do what I felt was right, my confidence grew and I was better able to take care of my little high need baby.

And the bad habits? It is not always easy and it takes work and patience, but bad habits can be changed. And we started toΒ change them when Livi was ready and after we all had gotten some sleep.

Flickr Photo by lifecreations

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25 comments on “Bad Habits

  1. I think we also instinctively did what we had to do with our hard-to-sleep baby. I wonder now if whether we had done things differently, would he have been able to sleep better. I’ll never know, and a big part could be that that’s just what he needed at that point.

    Should I have another one, I would still try not to get into the same habits that my first relied on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t always work out that way.

    • hnMom says:

      Absolutely, should we have another one, we would not automatically do everything and anything unless it was really necessary. And we didn’t do it with Livi either. It was really that we did not have another choice with her.
      Like you said, we did what we had to do. I am actually convinced that we could not have done things differently with her.

    • the speech monster says:

      I think the only bad habit here is nOt doing what you know will work. At the end of the day sometimes u need to do what ek help u n baby get thru the situation.

      • hnMom says:

        Yes, sometimes you just need to do what will get you through. Especially, if it is something as important as sleep. If no one gets any sleep then it doesn’t matter what else you do, everyone will just be miserable.

  2. Oster's Mom says:

    Isn’t it amazing how it sometimes takes us months to figure out that we should just listen to our instincts? We all do it. I tell my husband so many times that even though Oster is 14 months old, I still feel like I’m learning. I don’t think this feeling will ever go away.

    • hnMom says:

      Yes, it is amazing, especially since we already know to trust ourselves in other matters. It is just so overwhelming to take care of a small person who completely depends on us. Add to that all the hormones and exhaustion and it just takes a while to feel like yourself again and be confident enough.
      And I agree, I will always keep learning. Parenthood is just like that, you figure it out as you go.

  3. Deni Lyn says:

    This is FANTASTIC. Every new or expectant mother needs to hear it: Trust your instincts. I too had little experience with babies before deciding to have one. Having been through it, I firmly believe on a basic level a parent knows how to care for their newborn child. We need to do a better job encouraging that idea.

    And look, what’s the worst that’s going to happen? Why are we all so afraid of “bad habits”? You might have some future poor sleep if you decide to transition from rocking baby to sleep to simply putting her down awake or maybe taking away the pacifier? None of it’s the end of the world.

    In the beginning, what everyone needs, (besides sleep) is trust and love. I certainly wouldn’t worry about “habits.” Besides, I didn’t know one kid in College who still had his pacifier. πŸ™‚

    • hnMom says:

      I agree, we basically know how to take care of our children. It’s the classes and comments and advice that, although meant well, confuse us and make us feel unsure. We don’t need to be perfect or meet other’s expectations, we need only trust ourselves.
      And if we do it a little bit differently, who cares. Like you said, these “problems” are not the end of the world.

  4. yalandarose says:

    when i was a new parent, i was overwhelmed with all of the unwanted, unfounded and downright dangerous parenting advice i received as well. then i realized, they raised their children, now it’s time for me to raise mine.

    • hnMom says:

      That’s so true. They are our children so we should be the ones deciding what is good for them. After all, we know our children better than anyone else. Thanks for reminding us. πŸ™‚

  5. As you know, I have a high-needs child AND a not-high-needs baby. I can definitively say that my high-needs baby absolutely needed all of the “bad habits” we formed to get her to sleep at all. My not-high-needs baby? I can put him in his crib, drowsy but awake, and he will fall asleep on his own quite happily just like they say will happen in the books. The same behavior with my daughter would have meant that she would scream for 3 hours (or more, I never made it past three). Keep doing what you’re doing! It gets better! πŸ™‚ Mommy knows best!

    • hnMom says:

      Thank you so much for telling me. It really means a lot and is so encouraging. I am now at a point where I am more confident than I used to be but it helps immensely to get feedback from others who have been there. Thanks again. πŸ™‚

  6. I love your blog because I feel like we’re living the same life. I ended up co-sleeping. That worked for a long time. Now it’s time to change again and we’re working on the cot transition. I completely agree that it’s what works for you and your child at the time. It’s what feels natural, not what everyone else tells you is wrong. I welcome the day when I finally get to sleep through the night but i’m happy to wait until she’s ready.

    PS I’m also a fan of Sears (and Pantley)

    • hnMom says:

      Absolutely, it’s important to do what works for you and your child. That’s what really matters. And no one can tell you otherwise.
      I’m glad you like my posts. Reaching out to others with a similar situation is the reason I started this blog. πŸ™‚

  7. During one of my 2, 3, 4 am rocking sessions I penned my feelings down onto my ipod (definitely makes the time go quicker). Hopefully you can relate to this as much as i’ve been able to relate to your posts.

    http://onemothersnotes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/sleep-monster.html

    Do you ever end up feeling guilty about the situation? I often feel so frustrated that she won’t sleep and so tired from lack of sleep I feel like i’m not being a very good mother in the daytime… am I the only one that experiences this guilt?

    ps sorry about 2 posts in a row i’m just so excited to have found your blog!

    • hnMom says:

      No need to be sorry, I am also happy you found my blog. πŸ™‚
      You are definitely not alone. I struggle with guilt a lot. Just have not gotten around to posting about it. πŸ˜‰
      I will check out your post as soon as I get a chance.
      Funny thing, but I do all my blogging and writing on my iPhone while I hold or carry Livi. Very convenient, especially since I never get a chance to sit with my laptop anymore.

  8. Good for you for responding to your baby rather than worrying about bad habits! We just had our second baby and have now realized that our son (now age 3) is a high-needs guy (so in searching online about it, I found your blog). He was a high-needs baby…but we just did what he needed despite advice to the contrary and so thought he was normal or even “pretty easy”. After all, if we held him constantly, nursed him at least half the hours of the day, swaddled and shushed and so forth, he was fairly calm. Sure, he struggled terribly with separation, wouldn’t tolerate anyone besides my husband or I caring for him, only slept for 30 minutes at a time, etc, etc… Then we met our daughter last month and realized that our experience with our son was something different. Even though he has grown into a high needs child, I feel that all that early responsiveness has allowed the good aspects of being high need to shine…though with a new baby to care for, meeting his needs has been difficult.

    As far as the bad habits concern, I think many adults make us think that our child will NEVER outgrow a particular habit or need. But never is an awfully long time. I have never yet met a teenager who still nurses to sleep. I think ultimately it comes down to what you can tolerate, the lack of sleep or the required nursing. I needed the sleep more than I needed my breasts to myself at bedtime.

    Sometimes I feel a little guilty I’m not giving our new little girl the intense parenting I gave him because she doesn’t demand it. I can put her down and do something. I can side-car her for part of the night. Now I’m having the annoyance of people telling me it’s because we’re experienced parents. I keep telling them it has nothing to do with parenting…a baby is born with his or her own temperament. C was intense from the moment he popped out. E was easy from the get-go. That’s not parenting…that’s just who they are.

    The difficulty we’re having now (and that is causing my frantic internet search) is how to meet his high needs while caring for a newborn (who, even though she is pretty easy still needs to be held and nursed and bonded with).

    Sorry for the long reply…I just realized the whole issue of high-needs babies and children and am bubbling over with that realization!

    • hnMom says:

      First of all, congratulations! It must be so exciting to finally meet your little girl!
      I can only imagine how difficult and exhausting it must be to care for a newborn and a high need child. Don’t feel guilty about taking a little advantage of your girl’s easygoing nature. After all, you still have your son to take care of. And high need child or not, the first child always gets more attention as a baby, that’s just how it is. Besides I am sure you are giving her all that she needs and more.
      And yes, I agree with you, babies are born with their own temperament. They are who they are no matter how we parent them. Of course, some of the parents who do not have a high need child tend to disagree sometimes.
      Good luck! I am sure you are a great mom to both of your kids!

  9. 4eyedblonde says:

    I remember a piece of advise I got from a friend after sharing with her the fact that I could not get my three week old to fall asleep by himself (back when I questioned whether anything my child did was “normal”). She told me, with complete confidence, that I should put him in his crib, pat him a couple of times and then leave him in there to cry. I tried it a couple of times but couldn’t stand to listen to him cry for very long. Then I thought to myself, For Pete’s sake! He’s not even a month old yet! He needs me to hold him. So that’s what I did. And I was happy (-ish) to do it. But that’s what I learned; You do what feels right to YOU, and only change it when it no longer feels right.

    Well said.

    • hnMom says:

      Well said yourself. That is actually a great way to summarize it:

      Do what feels right to YOU and only change it when it no longer feels right (to you).

      I’m going to have to remember this the next time I feel pressured by others or unsure whether what I am doing is “right.”

  10. Like you, I developed a lot of bad habits with my daughter’s sleep. Looking back, I wish I had done things differently, but even if I knew better, I probably would’ve done the same thing. It’s called SURVIVAL. I was just so tired and needed to do SOMETHING to get her to sleep so that I could function. Would I do things differently if we were to do it again? Maybe. Maybe not. At the end of the day, I know that I did my best, and I think that’s all that counts. And like you said, bad habits can be broken. I figure they don’t often go to university with these types of sleep associations!!!

    • hnMom says:

      Yup, survival is right and we both know it, don’t we. It was actually a conversation I had with you that inspired this post. πŸ™‚

  11. workingmommawithababy says:

    I just found your blog and I’m completely fascinated! I’ve never heard the term “high needs” baby before, but reading the description almost puts me in tears as I compare the behaviors to my own 15 month old kiddo. This post on sleeping, especially, is so relate-able. I’m so glad I found your blog!

    • hnMom says:

      I’m glad you found my blog, too, and now I get to enjoy your blog as well. πŸ™‚ So do you think that your son might be a high need baby/toddler as well?

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