Ahhhh... the inevitable question everyone loves to ask about your newborn: “How is baby sleeping?” There is a ton of advice, wives tales and tips (both good and bad!) when it comes to baby sleep. So, we brought in the experts...
We chatted with Katelin Shouse and Ashley Smith of Loullaby Infant Sleep Consulting to address some of the many myths that accompany our babies and sleep.
MYTH: I will never sleep again.
We all hear it at least once: Sleep while you can. And at the time, it doesn’t make sense. You or your partner is uncomfortably pregnant. There are a million things to worry about. Then, all of a sudden, the baby is here, and sleep is out the window. It can have you thinking: “Am I ever going to sleep again?”
Rest assured, you will sleep again. The first month of a baby’s life is quite literally survival mode – for everyone involved. But it gets better once you start to get acclimated and navigate feedings. The day and night confusion tends to diminish within 6-8 weeks, and most babies can sleep 10-12 hours through the night by 3-6 months!*
So, the short answer: myth busted. You CAN sleep, and you will! Hang in there.
MYTH: I exclusively breastfeed, so I can’t sleep through the night.
“Breastfeed on command.” You hear it all the time, and when your baby wakes every 2-3 hours to eat, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll ever get good sleep. Many mothers assume that if they are exclusively breastfeeding, they can’t sleep through the night. The truth is, while some babies need to eat through the night, as long as your baby is getting enough to eat, you can look forward to the same 3-6 month timeline. Work to reduce the number of feedings at night over time, and soon, you’ll get solid sleep stretches.
MYTH: I need to let my baby “cry it out.”
First, note that there is a difference between the cry-it-out method and sleep training. The term “cry-it-out” can sometimes be confusing. A true cry-it-out is committing to closing the door at bedtime and not returning to the room until the next morning. And it can be…brutal.
That’s not what sleep training is. You’re not expected to leave your baby on their own. Instead, the goal is to minimize the tears as much as possible. There will always be some crying; that’s how babies communicate. They’re saying, “I’m tired.” But giving them the space to see if they can fall asleep on their own in a safe environment while you are close by is essential. They’ll eventually learn how to sleep in their own space.
MYTH: Never wake a sleeping baby.
So, this isn’t entirely true. During the day, it is important to wake your baby. It will help them to learn their nap windows and be indispensable to your sleep training progress. Babies only need a certain amount of sleep in 24 hours, depending on their age. If they sleep too long during the day, you’ll pay for it later. Too much sleep during the daytime steals from your nighttime. And you don’t want to get into a pattern of trying to catch up on sleep during the day. It can turn into a seemingly never-ending sleep deprivation for the whole family.
The whole “never wake a sleeping baby” mantra is most applicable to nighttime. Unless your pediatrician tells you to wake them at night, let your sleeping baby lie. Ensure they have been fed enough, then get some z’s for yourself.
In our podcast, “Busting Sleep Lies You’ve Heard,” Katelin Shouse and Ashley Smith of Loullaby Infant Sleep Consulting explore many more sleep myths and offer some real advice on how to get your baby’s sleep schedule under control. Throw it on during your morning commute or while cooking dinner. You might be surprised that many myths you’ve heard are just that: myths.
For more sleep resources and other parenting tips from Katelin and Ashley, Pediatricians, and other pediatric experts, be sure check out the Baby Playbook.
*Be sure to follow the sleep suggestions of your Pediatrician if they differ than this. There are times that it is recommended and encouraged to wake the baby up at certain intervals to ensure proper weight gain in the first 3-6 months.