On Crappy Sleepers And Knowing Your Kids


There is a standard by which all babies are judged, besides cuteness, cuteness is like a babies #1 currency. The other thing is sleep. If you want to be loved and admired as a baby, you gotta be a good sleeper.

When admiring a baby, the first thing an acquaintance will mention is the cute. Even ugly babies get called cute, it’s probably in the bible. I’ve even been told this by the nurses at the Pediatrician’s office. She said “we have to say they’re all cute, but they’re not… yours really is though!”

Anyway, after cute, the next thing a baby will be judged on is their sleeping habits.

It goes something like this:

Look at this little cutie, what a doll baby! She looks like a (kewpie doll, gerber baby, baby gap model, chub-muffin, angel… you get the drill) How does she sleep at night? Is she sleeping through the night?

How weird would this be if we greeted a new adult friend the same way?

Hi, I’m Leanne. And you are?
Great, nice to meet you Bob, but how well do you sleep?


My first two kids were amazing sleepers, I was amazing at training them. So was Kel. We could have run a sleep training bootcamp back in Oklahoma. We had graphs and charts (really) and mantras upon catch phrases. I probably had a few of them needlepointed on pillows that I kept in the nursery.

But not IN THE CRIB mind you, I didn’t want to be taken to jail by the baby bed police.

Clara is not a good sleeper, she wakes up a lot and doesn’t like sleeping apart from her parents. She also can’t eat yet, she throws up anything that isn’t breast milk.

She’s not eating or sleeping through the night at 9 months, it’s enough to make the average person we meet on the street feel sorry for us.

clara sleep

Please enjoy all the Unorthodox Sleeping.

But you know what? We’re good. I have amazing amounts of grace and patience for the whole situation and I’m taking to heart something I learned at some point in between my second and third babies.

You have to listen to your inner-mama voice, the Holy Spirit that’s working inside you, whispering: “No, this child needs it this way…. and I’ll give you the strength for the journey.”

My mom had one pretty famous quote: “There’s more than one way to do kids.”

There is more than one way to do everything, everything in life.

Even baby sleep.

Here's one of Clara sleeping on my back while I was wine tasting.

Here’s one of Clara sleeping on my back while I was wine tasting. Yes really. 

If there is one key lesson I’ve learned over the last year of motherhood it is this: Kids don’t know how to articulate what they need. As adults we are give a lot of free reign to get do life in a way that works for us.

We can point to Meyers-Briggs tests, self-help books, planners and systems to accommodate our idiosyncrasies. We can tap our feet as we work, get a new pillow, change the lighting, listen to music, get away, process, plan…we can advocate for who we are.

But kids haven’t figured themselves out yet, it’s all raw and unexplored. So it’s our job as adults and parents to be watching, to help them see who they are and then encourage them that they were created just right, quirks and all.


Noelle has a voracious sensory appetite.
Caedmon has to know why if at all possible.
Clara can’t eat solid food yet (she throws up anything beyond breast milk) and feels safest at night between Mom and Dad.


Every child is different and it’s our job to make a way for them.

Not to helicopter in and remove all obstacles from their lives, but to do our best to help them see who they are and how they tick even though we are still figuring it out for ourselves.

Self-knowledge is a powerful thing no matter how old you are.

The Holy Spirit is talking, moving, leading… let those of us who have ears to hear tune in and make a way for our children. Even those who don’t sleep through the night yet.


How do you advocate for your child’s uniqueness?
How has that changed how you see the world?


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  • Gayl Wright

    Great post, Leeanne! Yes, children are all different and we need to honor that. This is so very well said, “Not to helicopter in and remove all obstacles from their lives, but to do our best to help them see who they are and how they tick even though we are still figuring it out for ourselves.”

    • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

      Thank you Gayl, I am learning as I go and to hear resonance from someone who has been there is an honor.

  • Natalie Hart

    As the parent of a child who didn’t consistently sleep through the night until 1st grade, I hear you. On all counts. You figure it out as you get to know the child. I’ve had to learn how not to impose my personality stressors on my kids, that is, how to let them have their stress responses without triggering mine. For example, Family Fun Night at their first elementary school was a big deal, really fun, but also really loud and chaotic, and slightly expensive (all the tickets one buys), which is not a situation in which I’m at my best. My kids are both initial observers: they like to check everything out on their own terms before they commit to anything, even to things I know they’ll love. The first time, I was getting upset at them for not leaping in and doing the activities. The next time, I figured out how we weren’t working together, so I gave myself a firm talking to, talked to them about how I knew they had to look at everything first, so we walked around and observed until my husband (the non-stressor) got there, at which time I’d scheduled myself to work a game in one of the quiet rooms. It worked out well for all of us. So knowing thyself as well as thy children is always wise.

    • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

      I am loving your thoughts here Natalie and seriously YES to the Family Fun Night plan, I think I may have to implement that for ours as well. Or at least for me, because NOISE AND CROWDS is my HSP nightmare, maybe I’ll do cake walk… do they still do cake walks anywhere?

      • Natalie Hart

        Cake walk is pretty good, but they’re often in a large space, like the gym. I was in the blindfolded kids sifting their hands through dried oatmeal looking for buttons game, which was in a classroom. Good luck!