There’s a list that does the rounds online: ‘21 ways you can prepare for a baby’. Number 1? Set an alarm for every two hours. The alarm must be high pitched and repetitive. Number 2? Let the alarm go off for one hour and run around your house hysterical. If at night, make sure to fall asleep 10 minutes before the alarm goes off again. Number 3? Wake up at 4am.
The lack of sleep a new baby brings is not something you can really prepare yourself for. You might think because you’ve pulled all-nighters studying (or partying) that you’re prepared…but you’ll quickly realise that staying up all night with a baby is followed by parenting all day, and staying up all night, and parenting all day again… It can be a relentless cycle! We hope you’ve got a support network lined up so you can book in some naps and catch up on those precious zzz’s.
You’ll come across a lot of information helping you prepare for the first few days and weeks with your new baby. You’ll expect to wake up a couple of times during the night to feed your newborn. But you might not think about what comes next. You might not have any friends with babies, or maybe you do, but their baby is 8 months old and still waking and SURELY you won’t let that be you. Or maybe you’ve got friends with toddlers who are too busy wrangling their little angels when you meet for coffee that the topic of sleep doesn’t come up. You’re not to know that they had some sleepless nights when their 2 year old transitioned from cot to bed. Or when they called out after a bad dream. Or when they toddle into your friends’ room and stare creepily at her until she wakes with a fright…
Sleep deprivation can take a huge toll on your life and we’re not saying it’s always going to be as tough as those 2-3 hourly wakings with a newborn. One day your baby will sleep through. But it might not be at 12 weeks like your neighbour told you, or even by 6 months like all the books say.
So what is “normal” sleep?
We ran a poll of our Instagram followers with the following questions and results (with number of votes in brackets):
1. Does your child sleep through every night at 12 months?
41% yes (260); 59% no (375)
2. Has your child slept through…only to start waking again when they’re older?
68% yes (425); 32% no (202)
3. Have you worried about your baby’s sleep issues being “normal”?
56% yes (434); 44% no (339)
A sleeping-through-the-night baby is held to high regard and many of us drive ourselves crazy trying to achieve this. Here’s a reminder that your baby will sleep through – one day. And those babies in your coffee group who are sleeping through? Their parents might be stretching the truth. Or maybe they really are sleeping through, but they might not be in a month’s time!
Some pieces of advice from our community
Who do you go to for sleep advice?
A lot of parents had similar answers:
• My intuition
• Friends and family, Plunket/GP
• I follow my baby’s lead
• Taking a bit from all sources and finding our balance within that
Practical tips included:
• The Sleep Store was frequently mentioned. They’re one of our SnüzPod4 stockists and a wealth of information about sleep, settling, dummy use, toddler sleep, bed wetting and more!
• A lot of parents recommended @thesleepscout on Instagram, Baby Sleep Consultant and Little Ones
• And a few more “gentle” approaches to infant sleep and sleep training: @gentle.sleep.tribe and The Beyond Sleep Training Project. Also The Possums Clinic (an Australian based resource)
Tips for newborn sleep
• Feed overnight with a very dim light
• Minimise stimulation at night time
• White noise, shusher and sleep suit = perfect combo
• Keep to a wake window of 45min (for newborn)
• Love To Dream swaddle helps
• Have something that smells like mum nearby
• Cuddle to sleep
Enjoy your newborn
• Understand realistic sleep expectations and then adjust for you and your baby
• Soak up the cuddles, totally normal that they want to be close
• No tips but just for new parents to know that it’s okay for your baby not to sleep through
• Keep them close, let them sleep on you
• Let your baby guide you
• Don’t force them into a routine too early
• Fresh air is so good for both of you and usually they’ll fall asleep when out for a walk