The truth about newborn sleep
I see the questions over and over about newborn sleep:
How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?
What am I doing wrong? Shouldn’t he be sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time?
Won’t naps during the day ruin night time sleep?
Wait – don’t they need naps during the day to make them sleep better at night?
The truth is: there’s no manual or right answer to help a newborn sleep better.
In fact, until a baby is about 12 weeks or 4 months old, there’s really no rhyme or reason to his sleep schedule. Biologically, a baby’s sleep rhythms are absolutely nothing like yours (the adult’s) until he hits that 12 week mark. So what are you supposed to do?
No matter what your friends or Facebook or Google tell you about newborn sleep, there is really only one thing you can do:
Love that baby and let him sleep when he sleeps.
Granted, you can make your baby overtired and thus create a sleep problem. This can happen at any age, really — believe me. It happens with my 11 year old. If you push a baby and keep him awake when he really wants or needs to be asleep, this can cause a predicament.
The beauty of a newborn baby is that he’ll sleep just about any where and at any time. The problem for mom and dad is that these times seem inconvenient. And they totally are.
I remember with my 2nd child (the Animal as we call him here on the blog) that I cried and cried at 2 am wishing he would just go to sleep. I paced our bedroom, sang Bob Marley songs, rocked him. Nothing seemed to work. Until it just did. And then he would sleep, and I’d grab a couple of hours of sleep as best as I could. It was hard.
Babies are ridiculously difficult. There is no 100% error-proof method to getting them to sleep. And as much as I hate hearing this phrase, it’s true: Every baby is different.
Sassy Pants and Diva? They were and are fabulous sleepers. They slept while I shopped. They traveled well. Shoot – Sassy Pants was sleeping 7 pm to 7 am at around 5 months. She spoiled me.
The Animal didn’t start that full 12 hour sleep until well after 10 months old. No matter what we tried, nothing got him to sleep all the way through the night.
And Flash — although fabulous at sleep shopping in a carrier — still didn’t sleep without at least one midnight waking until well after 9 months old.
Bottom line, no matter what you do, you can’t force a baby to sleep. And you shouldn’t really want to. Their brains are working faster now than they will for the rest of their lives. Let them do what they are biologically built to do. They’re waking because they need something: food, a new diaper, love. No matter how horrible it seems, it’s really okay.
And yes, the cliche´ is absolutely true: This, too, shall pass.
In the thick of things, it doesn’t feel like their lack of sleep will ever end. But it will. I promise.
baby, newborn, parenting, sleep