Getting Real About Baby Sleep

"Is your s/he sleeping through the night?" -nearly every single stranger, family member or friend after you have a baby. 

An annoying question at that because unless you've really lucked out, your answer is probably no. 

Pictured here is a baby, actually sleeping!

Pictured here is a baby, actually sleeping!

Since perusing the internet for information on baby sleep usually leads to a totally confusing and conflicting set of Google search results, I decided that maybe our doula service should put together a post on our thoughts. Here's what we tell parents as they embark on this journey: 

          1.) Set your expectations low. 

Throughout your pregnancy you imagine sleeplessness. You hear stories of parents who had children that slept through the night from the beginning and others with 5 year olds still waking. I've found that in my own experiences, expecting my child to sleep an hour at night and then waking up to find they slept 3 is really encouraging! Newborn, infant, toddler, child and even adult sleep comes in ebbs and flows. Things like teething, growth spurts, footie pjs, disrupted routine, nightmares or a cool draft can totally throw you for an unexpected loop! Children can sleep through the night for months and then start night waking every hour. Keep in mind, most experts define sleeping through the night as only 5 hours. 

2.) Get good support. 

Finding good support to help you on your journey through parenthood is crucial. Whether it is a doula, a partner, a grandparent, an aunt, it is important. Support for your baby not being a good sleeper may look like having someone trusted come over and watch the baby while you nap or shower. It may be switching off night time duties every other day. You could have someone take baby on a walk while you get things done around the house if baby is demanding what seems like all of your time. You can call a friend and vent about whats happening. In any case, finding that support system is a great asset to help you get through parenting. 

nwpa doulas sleep

3.) Self Care

This is probably my favorite tip. It is impossible to pour from a cup that is empty. Its so easy to forget about yourself in parenting. Rejuvenated, healthy moms parent better than tired, depleted moms.  Make sure that you have time to yourself, even if its just 5 mins. If you can get a 20 minute nap after being up all night, do it. If resting means mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, go for it. Whatever it takes, make sure you remember yourself in all of this too. 

4.) Listen to your baby and your instincts. 

If every single time you sit your baby in his crib he instantly wakes up screaming, could you perhaps try something different? Babies certainly don't follow the rules and they definitely don't read the sleep books that we do. We end up frustrated when our babies don't do the same thing that Susie's baby does. Look at your baby. Think about their needs and schedule. We know that crying is communication, what needs are they communicating to you? Now lets talk about the primal instincts you were born with to parent your child. What are they telling you? Could you child be sick or hurt? Do you think this is just how your child is? Really thinking about how we feel about the situation can help tons. 

No matter what type of sleeper your baby or toddler is, we are here to help. We're here to let you vent. We're here with our postpartum doulas to give you that good night's sleep. We're here to make sure you're connected to community resources that will help you feel like you have a village. You're not alone. 


Contact our birth and postpartum doulas at (814) 315-2525. We serve Crawford, Erie, Warren, Forest, Venango, Clarion, Butler, Mercer and Lawerence Counties.