Every new parent struggles with baby sleep, but most of the advice out there is wrong – or at least, incomplete. “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” “Put the baby down drowsy but awake.” And I would know – I’ve been supporting parents and newborns for over 20 years and have discovered where things go wrong and how to fix them (or avoid them going wrong at all). I’m a postpartum doula, Newborn Care Specialist, and baby sleep trainer based in NYC. I help families all over the country get their sleep – and their LIVES – back. Read on as I bust many of the myths you may have heard about sleep and your new baby!
Myth: Put down your baby only when they are close to falling asleep, aka “drowsy but awake”.
Truth: If the baby is fed and calm, try putting them down awake and see what happens. They may just drift off! Being able to fall asleep on their own is the foundation of great sleep habits. For newborns, of course, you want to comfort them if they cry, but they may not even make a peep.
Myth: If your baby struggles with sleep at night, keep them awake longer during the day.
Truth: Be aware of how much sleep babies need at various ages – if they’re not sleeping enough, they will be overtired and then counter intuitively not sleep. Sleep is as fundamental of a human need as food, and babies need many, many hours of it. Good sleep begets more good sleep.
Myth: Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Truth: Extend your night to get as much sleep as possible. It can be challenging to nap during the day, even if you’re exhausted, so taking advantage of your body’s natural sleep cycles and melatonin is key. Get into a routine of going to bed early, and don’t start your day at the baby’s first feed of the morning even if that’s your old schedule. Babies tend to get their best sleep in the evening and morning, so pretend it’s still nighttime and go right back to bed once they’re back down. Pretend 6 AM is 3 AM – do not drink coffee, do not take a shower, do not pass Go, etc.