Some babies sleep through the night from 6 weeks old and are excellent nappers. Hopefully, that is what will happen to you but it’s not what happened to us!
5 Baby Sleep Tips
Here are 5 things that I’ve learned about baby sleep.
1. Baby sleep is complicated
There are lots of books and websites out there that promise to help you achieve the perfect sleeper. Ha! Your baby will enter the world with her own ideas and likely make it very hard at times. There is no magic solution. Some babies are great sleepers, some are not. Just knowing that makes things easier!
I had no idea how complicated the word “sleep” would become when I became a mother. You have to figure out awake times, nap times, self-soothing plus deal with an overtired baby when you get it wrong. He will refuse to sleep, sleep at the “wrong” time, and require you to move mountains to get him napping. It’s a full-time job.
You might find yourself driving or wearing your baby to sleep, using a yoga ball, or even hoping that 5 minutes of crying will get them to sleep. I’ve done it all!
Baby sleep can be very complicated but you will figure it out as you get to know your baby.
2. Read the books, but don’t take them too seriously
My baby slept through the night on Christmas Eve when she was 7 weeks old. She slept for 6 hours straight in her Swaddle Me and it was heaven. For some reason, she was a great nighttime sleeper but naps were a different story.
For the longest time, she would only nap for 45 minutes no matter what I did! So like any responsible first-time mom, I decided to read all the popular sleep books. I read The No Cry Sleep Solution (my favorite) and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, as well as The Baby Whisperer and of course Ferber’s book.
I learned something from each book but I also found myself getting extremely stressed out after reading them. A lot of what they said did not match up with my baby and the advice I tried did not work! I found myself getting more and more anxious about my baby’s sleep instead of enjoying those precious moments.
My daughter was not the perfect napper and sometimes it really wore me out but you know what? We are okay. She was not permanently damaged by those short naps and I have almost forgotten what sleep deprivation feels like.
I wish I had worried less about her sleep.
3. Regressions are normal
Your baby will have regressions. Mine had one at 6 months when she suddenly woke up a lot to nurse. This went on for 3 months and she didn’t sleep more than 3 hours straight for even one night!
I tried all kinds of methods from the books I mentioned earlier and nothing worked. Then, right before she was 9 months old she started self-soothing and a couple weeks later she was sleeping 12 hours straight at night. It’s hard but it won’t last forever!
Regressions can happen with toddlers too. Your little one might have been sleeping through the night for months and then all of a sudden they start waking up. For us, the cause was the dreaded molars. The night awakenings were not that difficult to deal with but we didn’t expect it!
Eventually, things get back to normal.
4. Take care of your own sleep
Sleep deprivation is the worst and it’s easy to use all your energy making sure your baby is sleeping. However, it is important that you remember yourself! If I could go back in time, I would try harder to nap.
I refused to nap because I felt like I was abandoning my baby even if someone else was caring for her. Part of that was probably New Mom Syndrome and another part was breastfeeding. I felt so much responsibility for keeping her alive.
I would have functioned SO much better if I had taken naps. So please, try to get the sleep you need. Forget the house cleaning for awhile, order pizza, and rest up.
5. Every family is different so do what’s best for yours!
One of the least fun things about being a new parent is all the advice you get. No one likes to feel criticized or judged because of how they are going about handling a new baby. Try to remember most people are actually intending to be helpful but don’t worry about what they are saying.
Are you safely co-sleeping but your mother-in-law is appalled? Do you have friends telling you that you’re creating bad habits or spoiling your baby? Don’t be afraid to ask them to kindly let you do things your own way because it’s your baby and your family.
It’s okay to do things differently even if people in your circle don’t understand. Do what is best for your family and remember that every baby is different. Follow your gut!
Also, you will sleep again. I PROMISE.
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- Baby Freebies
Originally published on December 6, 2013.