“Is she sleeping through the night yet?”

When my husband and I meet another couple with a baby, our joke is that it takes less than 5 minutes before the conversation moves to sleep and baby poop.

Lucky for you I’m not going to talk about baby poop here.

Sleep is such a hot topic when there’s a baby in the room. “How’s he sleeping?” “She won’t nap.” “I have to rock him to sleep.”

Baby sitting in cribOr my favourite: “Is she sleeping through the night yet?” (By the way, sleep experts count 5 hours as sleeping through the night!)

We had our fair share of sleep struggles with our daughter. You know those “Read this and we promise your baby will sleep through the night without crying” books? After a rough week, I broke down and read one. But all it ever did was make me feel even more bonkers than I already was.  I tried a bunch of techniques and then got even more upset and even more sleep deprived when they didn’t work. I found it so much easier and healthier to just go with the flow, take care of myself and ignore what others had to say about my own child’s sleeping!

So when a client calls in to HaltonParents’ phone line to talk about their baby’s sleep, my first question is usually “Is it a problem for you?”  For some, it isn’t. It’s just that Grandma and my-friend-with-a-baby-the-same-age-as-mine have insisted that little Liam really ought to be sleeping through the night by 6 months.

So what can we do about our baby’s sleep?

  • Manage your expectations. Let’s be clear about something, it is perfectly normal that your baby is not sleeping through the night. Most babies do wake in the night (and a good thing too – this is protective of SIDS) and if he’s crying, he needs help. Maybe he’s hungry or too hot or just needs a soothing hug to fall back to sleep.
  • Promote healthy sleep habits for your baby
  • Protect your own sleep (check out my blog post “Sleep is everything: Making my own sleep a priority”) and ask for help
  • Avoid lengthy “cry it out” sleep techniques – letting your baby cry alone for more than a few minutes is very stressful for him as he is not able to understand why help is not coming.
  • And my best piece of advice: Make friends with other moms in the same situation!  I have laughed until I cried sharing sleep and poop woes with the other moms I met in community groups. We helped each other see the funny side of things. If you are looking for community groups, be sure to check out your local Ontario Early Years Centre.

I was telling my husband about this post, and you know what he said to me? “That wasn’t soooo bad. It goes by so fast…” I had to laugh because there is still the odd night that our daughter wakes and needs help to fall back to sleep. But he’s right, it passes. Just survive and try to laugh along the way! 🙂

For more tips and hints about your baby’s sleep, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:

For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About Andrea Scott RN

I’m a public health nurse with the HaltonParents team – you’ll find me blogging, tweeting and answering emails. I’ve been working for the Halton Region Health Department since 2006 and my focus has been on supporting parents with babies and little kids. I have two little ones myself, “Pumpkin” and “Monkey” who give me plenty to blog about! :)
This entry was posted in Babies, Mental Health, Physical Health, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “Is she sleeping through the night yet?”

  1. Pingback: Why you’re STILL talking about sleep when you have teens… | HaltonParents

  2. Pingback: Why it’s better to NOT have a routine with young babies | HaltonParents

  3. Pingback: To mom from baby: Birth to three months | HaltonParents

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