Your Baby Doesn’t Sleep Through the Night and That’s Okay

Your Baby Doesn't Sleep Through the Night and That's Okay

How’s she sleeping?” they ask. “She” being my infant daughter and “they” being literally everyone who has ever talked to me about my daughter. I pause and carefully form my response in my head. “Um, she sleeps ok,” I stammer. “She’s just not really a fan of sleeping, but she’s getting better!” I add.

 

How does she sleep, you ask?

Here’s what I really want to say: How does she sleep, you ask? Well, she sleeps like any baby does, I suppose. Laying down, but sometimes while held, and with her eyes closed. Well, except for when she does that weird thing where her eyelids kind of open and her eyes roll back into her head like my grandmother’s used to do when she fell asleep sitting up. Most nights she can get a good 2-3 hour stretch before waking to nurse. But does she sleep for 12 hours straight in her crib while I get a glorious full night of sleep like I did pre-baby? NO. No, my baby does not sleep through the night and never has and that is OK.

 

She doesn’t sleep and that’s okay.

I want to tell them how even though I haven’t felt well rested since before I went into labor with her, it’s OK. Believe it or not, I signed up for this gig. I very much wanted to be a mom and I accept what comes with it. I believe that babies are born doing what they are naturally meant to do and for good reason. So, if my little girl doesnt sleep for 12, or even 6 hours without waking, that doesnt mean something is wrong with her. I want to explain to them that if my baby wakes at night and needs to be comforted or reassured or nursed to feel safe and secure and go back to sleep, then that’s OK. It’s what babies do. (This Kelly Mom article can tell you all about normal sleep patterns in babies!)

 

The fear of judgment.

But I don’t say this. For fear of being judged. For fear of being pitied. For fear of someone suggesting I try “such and such” method. These days it’s as if the amount of hours your baby sleeps consecutively at night might as well be equal to how successful you are at mothering, and that would mean I’m not a successful mother.

 

I am a good mother.

But here’s the thing. That’s not true. I am a good mother. For me and my family, co-sleeping and night nursing are OK. That’s not to say I think it’s the right way or only way for all babies and families. You need to do what works for you. However, I really wish it were more common knowledge just how normal and natural it is for babies to not sleep through the night.

 

How we can help.

Instead of suggesting to exhausted new moms that they do the opposite of what their mothering instincts are telling them to do (i.e. nurse or comfort their babies at night when they need it) we need to be supporting them. We should be sympathizing with their exhaustion by offering real help like bringing over meals, offering to do some housework, etc. Not making them feel inadequate. Instead of suggesting all the things they could try to get their little one to make it through the night, simply tell them what an amazing mama they are for giving their baby what they need. Tell them this is a phase in their baby‘s life and it won’t last forever. Tell them you support them. Tell them if their baby doesnt sleep through the night, it’s OK.

 

Related: 5 Things That Happen When Your Kid Sucks at Sleep

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Topics:Baby, Sleep
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More from Holly Bigelow

Your Baby Doesn’t Sleep Through the Night and That’s Okay

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3 Comments

  • Yes, yes, yes!!!!!!! It is so refreshing to read this in a world where it feels like all anybody talks about is how to get your baby to sleep through the night, and worried new moms are asking if something is wrong with their 2 month old because she is waking multiple times a night to eat because they’ve been taught to think that this is abnormal. I believe that parenting doesn’t just get put in pause at night. It’s certainly not my favorite aspect of the job but there are lots of other great things that make up for it!

  • Amen! New Mom of twins here! Just the other day I read the blog of another new Mom whose little girl is approximately 3 weeks younger than my babies and, “she sleeps 10-11 hours every night.” Ugh… I’m ashamed to say I felt instant & intense dislike for this total stranger. 5 hours tops is the most we’ve ever gone in our 15 weeks as parents, at night. And that’s rare. Mostly it’s 2.5-4. So… I’m in the same boat! But it’s a boat we chose to be in & I wouldn’t trade my babies for all the “good” sleepers in the world.

  • My response to that question was to laugh manaically and say “no” with a tone that implied they were the craziest people in the world for thinking that was a possibility. I never got any follow-up questions…

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