Guest Post: Losing the Guilt for Your Child’s Temperament |

Guest Post: Losing the Guilt for Your Child’s Temperament

admin June 2, 2012

Today we have a guest post from Joanna of Plus Other Good Stuff! She will tell us her story of how she learned to lose the guilt for her child’s temperament.

My two-and-a-half-year-old son, Caedmon, amazes me every day. He has an impressive attention span, superb motor skills, an extensive vocabulary (for a two-year-old, that is), and an off-the-wall sense of humor that cracks us up.

But he is not a good sleeper.

He never has been. Before he was born, we bought a co-sleeper to go next to our bed and set up a crib with some super cute gender-neutral bedding.

But after he was born we quickly fell into a pattern of co-sleeping, nap-time baby-wearing, and lots of comfort nursing. As weeks continued into months, these practices became a bit draining. He began to nurse all night. He couldn’t sleep anywhere but next to me. He would wake up if I tried to put him down, even if he was in a deep sleep. If in his own bed, he never slept even for five minutes. We were all sleep-deprived, and I couldn’t get anything done during the day.

And then the guilt began. I thought it was all my fault.

Thoughts like these ran through my head: What have we been doing wrong?  Could we have tried harder to get him to sleep on his own? Should we let him cry it out, after all? One week I’d think, It’s ok, we can just keep doing what we’re doing.

And the next week I’d think, We’ve made a huge mistake!  I checked out all the books the library had on baby sleep, inviting a roller coaster of differing opinions. I didn’t know who to believe.

Friendly faces at church would ask “How’s he sleeping?” (Because what else do you ask a new mother? It’s like “How’s married life treating you?” to a newly married couple.) I never quite knew how to respond. In truth, I can’t remember how I responded, perhaps because of the sleep-deprived haze I was living in.

I had read Dr. Sears’ definition of a “high-need baby,” but having no other babies with which to compare our son, I didn’t really think he was one. I just thought I had done something wrong.

Every Child is Different

Three weeks ago, we welcomed our precious daughter Esther into the world. Like Caedmon, she was born at home in the water, attended by a skilled midwife. Unlike Caedmon, she barely cried after she was born. She made just enough noise to let us know that her lungs were working perfectly, and then she was very quiet and alert, staring at us with her big, smoky blue eyes. She latched on like a champ from the start, and remained quietly content through her newborn exam. Her older brother? He barely nursed for the first three days of his life, and was sure to let us know that he did NOT enjoy his newborn exam.

While I was pregnant with Esther I kept wondering who this person would be, and how he or she would be different than Caedmon. It goes back to the old nature vs. nurture thing: I wanted to know how much of Caedmon’s higher-need personality was a result of our parenting choices, and how much was just the way he is wired.

Little Esther cleared things up pretty quickly for us. I can lay her down in her bassinet sleepy but awake and she will go to sleep. She’s only waking up once or twice in the night, and she has nursed perfectly since day one.

As I write this, she is sleeping peacefully in her bassinet, while my husband is lying down with Caedmon to put him to sleep. Are we parenting Esther differently than we parented Caedmon as a baby? Not really. I still consider myself an “attachment” parent. I nurse on demand, pulling Esther into bed with me to nurse her when I’m too tired to get up. I’m all for co-sleeping if it works for your family, and I think baby wearing is a wonderful way to bond with your child.

But Esther is different than Caedmon, and she needs different things. For example, she needs to be burped during and after every feeding, whereas Caedmon rarely needed to be burped. Every baby is different, and what matters is that you get to know your baby and do your best to fulfill their needs.

Losing the Guilt for Your Child's Temperament

It’s Not My Fault

I’m sure we’ve made mistakes with Caedmon’s sleep. Perhaps we could have tried to put him down to sleep sooner or more often. Perhaps we could have had a better routine from the start…we really didn’t know what we were doing, like any new parents. But now I know that I did not make him this way.

Though I am an imperfect parent, the challenges we have faced with Caedmon are not solely our fault. I’m not saying that as a cop-out. I think it’s important to realize how we can and do affect our children. But I have spent way too many tears over the idea that I messed Caedmon up. That I failed as a parent and someone else could have done a way better job. I need to let it go.

Our children are a gift from God, and we are just crazy about Caedmon, sleep difficulties and all. As a result of his intense need for physical contact, we have been blessed with a very close relationship with him. I’m convinced that he is the cuddliest two-year-old on the planet, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything, not even a full night’s sleep.

So I’m letting go of the guilt. And I suggest you do the same. 🙂

Are you carrying around guilt for your child’s temperament?


Joanna Rodriguez is a wife, mother, homemaker, and dancer.  She loves yellow butter from cows that eat grass.  So much so that her husband often remarks that the butter on her toast looks like a slab of cheese.  In between changing diapers and conquering the dishes, she takes time to craft delicious and nourishing meals for her friends and family.  For her, real food is about taking care of the gifts we’ve been given, and sharing what we have with those around us.

She writes about real food and shares her recipes at Plus Other Good Stuff.


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  1. Joanna: You are the best possible mommy Caedmon could ever have.


  2. Wow! I could have written this post. This is exactly our experience with our two year old daughter and three month old son! Right down to every detail, including her screaming like crazy all thru her newborn exam, and my son just looking around as content as could be during his. My two year old still cosleeps more than my baby! And I have done everything the same. I’m convinced kids are 90% nature and only 10% nurture! 🙂


  3. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS!!!! My son has that same temperament. At first he was able to sleep in his own room, but now he has to sleep with us. Wherever we go in the house, even if it’s in another room, he has to follow us!!! My poor husband has to sleep on the couch at night. My son is five and we are now getting him to sleep in his own room but we have to have the air mattress in there so that one of us sleeps with him. I sleep in there until he’s asleep and my husband goes to bed, then it’s his turn. Even as a baby my son had to be “swaddled” in order to sleep.


  4. This sounds SO like my two boys. Miah’s 3.5, sleeping in his own bed now but still will come and ask Daddy for cuddles at 3am. Teddy was an amazingly easygoing baby, accepted the cosleeper, accepted the bouncer…and I found myself taking advantage of every opportunity to put him down, I was so scared of taking care of two children. I found myself really regretting not cuddling my newborn as much as I could have. He’s 19mo now and he doesn’t want to be worn and I’m really missing my baby in a way that I never did with Miah. Kind of the flip side.


  5. […] been able to enjoy as many of the conveniences of extended nursing with her as I did with my very attached son. While he was nursing (until a few months past two), we could nurse anywhere, anytime. He had no […]


  6. You have described my reality. My son who is 9 years old now, has always been more sensitive. My partner and I use to joke (after he finally went to sleep-could take him up to an hour) to the mission impossible music, all the sly moves we had to do to get out of bed without waking him. We also coslept, wore him in my sling and picked him up when he cried. My daughter on the other hand- was easy peasy- could fall asleep everywhere and no problems once she was asleep. My son is 9 and is still a light sleeper, but sleeps through the night. It is nothing you “did” wrong …. just the way they are. Good luck!


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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