Q&A: 12-month-old not sleeping through the night

J writes:

"Hi!  My 12 month old son doesn't sleep through the night, which seems to ludicrous to other people. I dread it when anyone asks me how he is doing in this area, because then I get an incredulous stare. It seems like everyone else I meet with children his age have no problems...they put their babies happily to bed each night and sleep blissfully till morning. And there's always an undertone of "you must be overlooking something obvious" or a notion that we made a stupid parenting decision somewhere in his infancy that doomed us to this fate.

I don't know in retrospect what I would have done differently.  I felt that CIO was wrong and went against my instincts as a parent...so I ended up getting up a million times a night to coax my son back to bed before my husband suggested co-sleeping for my sanity.  That was great for awhile.  But now we've evolved to...THIS.  Which is no consistency at all.  Some nights, I am able to get him down in the crib with little difficulty, and he'll sleep for a few hours before waking up, at which point I move him to bed with me.  Other nights, it's a fight to go to sleep...then a fight to stay asleep, meaning frequent waking, restlessness, thrashing, tugging my hair, etc.  Nursing him is the only thing I can do to consistently calm him, but that doesn't even always get him back to sleep.  Now it seems that night terrors have begun...he is crying and inconsolable, though his eyes are open, and pushes me away..then it just stops suddenly and he's ok.  The take home message is that restlessness and frequent waking are the norm now.  In the past week, he's also increased his nursing...we're averaging 4 times a night.  I'm slowly weaning during the day, but I have no clue how I can wean at night being that it's currently my "crutch" to get back to sleep.

My pediatrician told me at his well check today that my reports are not uncommon, but he thinks the only solution would be to stomach crying it out, or stop breastfeeding.  Do you have any good solutions?  Is this crap normal?  I keep telling myself that he won't be breastfeeding forever, sleeping in my bed until he goes to college, and that I think kids sleep how they sleep regardless of what we do or don't do...but it's hard to keep that resolve when I get those incredulous stares.  It makes me feel like I'm a shitty parent, and I should have done something differently along the way.  Or that I'm lazy because I'm using nursing as a crutch...but I work full time and am alone many evenings since my husband works shift work.  There's just many a night I say "screw it" in frustration and don't even have the energy to fight getting him in a crib, since he's gonna end up in the bed anyway. 

Any thoughts?"

My thought is: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

And also: Those people you know, they're a bunch of liars.

And your pediatrician hasn't had any special training in baby sleep--they don't cover it in medical school, so he's working from the same info you are.

Everyone who had/has a baby who doesn't sleep through the night at 12 months, please comment. You can count me as two. My children who both sleep just fine now didn't sleep through the night at 12 months, either of them.

The only thing at all that strikes me as remotely out of the norm is the thrashing and fighting. Does this ring a bell with anyone? I don't know if it's personality, or something that could be tweaked. So if anyone else had a fight-y baby, speak up.

But the idea that all babies except yours are sleeping all the way through the night at twelve months is just ludicrous. You didn't cause it, and who knows what would have happened if you'd made different decisions. You do what you think is right. But don't let other people pretend all 12-month-olds universally sleep. (Especially since there's another sleep regression coming up at 13 months.)