Whether you’re a co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, formula supplementing, sleep in their own bedroom, strict routine or free-range parent, we’ve all been in the trenches on the nights when your baby won’t sleep.
You know the kind.
When you start off asking your baby nicely to go to sleep, and within a few hours you’ve progressed passed negotiation right to straight up begging your baby to sleep.
Just for a few hours.
Okay, just an hour.
Half an hour?
When the sleep deprivation kicks in it’s difficult to see the big picture.
An hour of pacing the halls feels like forever when you haven’t had a good nights sleep in gosh knows when.
So here are some things you need to know and should remind yourself when your baby won’t sleep. (Perhaps save the page for those 2am weak moments…)
1 – This Too Shall Pass
I know this is something you’ve probably heard time and time again, but reminding yourself in the small hours of the night when you’ve already walked 5000 steps up and down the hallway can actually be quite reassuring.
This will pass, it’s not going to last forever.
Our babies go through so many different phases.
Sometimes they sleep, sometimes they don’t.
Sometimes we know why, sometimes we have no clue. It’s just the way it goes.
Cuddle up and know that this too shall pass.
2 -Their Little Brains Are In Overdrive
Can you just imagine for a minute all the things our little ones are learning? It’s seriously incredible.
During their sleep, they start putting all of these little connections together, from the ability to control the movements of their hands to the ability to roll over and crawl, they are always learning new things.
When you start to think of their inability to sleep as a part of the process of learning, it becomes easier to accept.
You might even notice that after a particularly rough period, your baby will start to do new things they weren’t doing before.
A great resource for this is The Wonder Weeks.
This book is absolutely amazing. You’ll be able to see the fussy periods your little one is going through, correlate them to the ‘leaps’ outlined in the book and even see the little development milestones they are reaching.
When we understand the why of these fussy periods, they seem to be a whole lot easier to deal with.
3 – There Is Coffee
And for when things aren’t easy to deal with, there’s coffee. Or tea if that’s your thing.
Sometimes the simple act of making a coffee can have therapeutic benefits and help you destress.
If you need it, during the night try and opt for a decaf (I promise it’s not a dirty word, it still tastes good) and save your coffee with a kick for the morning.
Just keep in mind the total amount of coffee you’re consuming in a day. If your little one keeps having trouble sleeping, it might be worth a try at reducing your caffeine intake and seeing if it helps.
I know… it’s a horrible thought.
But you’d be surprised at how much just coffee flavours can be a pick-me-up and help keep that ‘coffee keeps me awake’ routine for you.
4 – You Can Say No
If you’re stressing about how little sleep you’re getting, plus all the things you have to do the next day, the commitments you’ve made and places you have to be, remind yourself – you can say no.
Rarely is there ever an event or commitment you can’t back out of with a simple ‘the baby hasn’t been sleeping well’.
Most people will understand, and if they don’t, that’s their issue. You need to look after you first, so you can then look after your beautiful babe.
For those of us that are people pleasers (hands up) this can be quite a difficult skill to master, but just keep reminding yourself, it’s okay to say no, and stay at home and snuggle and nap instead.
5 – It’s Not Their Fault (And It’s Not Your Fault)
Gosh, it’s easy to become frustrated. I’ll admit it, I’ve had a middle of the night outburst on a number of occasions where I’ve had to put the baby down and walk away out of sheer exhaustion and frustration.
But it’s not their fault. And it’s absolutely not your fault either.
Babies aren’t meant to sleep through the night. Surprising hey?
Despite all the people out there still asking ‘so is your baby sleeping through yet?’, it’s not something we should be using as a mark of achievement.
They aren’t doing anything wrong by waking at night.
I know plenty of adults (myself included) who still don’t sleep through the night and wake to stumble to the toilet or toss and turn. Why do we place such high expectations on our babies?
Take a deep breath, it’s no one’s fault, it’s just how it is, and that’s okay.
6 – They Cannot Possibly Stay Awake Forever
At some point, your baby is going to fall asleep.
It might be in 10 minutes, it might be in half an hour, or it might be in two hours.
But I promise they cannot stay awake forever.
Sleep will come.
It might be broken, it might be rough, but it will happen.
Again, it comes back to the whole idea that ‘this too shall pass’ (see #1).
7 – It’s Okay To Do What You Need To Do
You don’t need to walk around a dark house, or lay next to a bassinet patting and shushing if it’s making the situation unbearable.
Get up, cuddle your baby (I promise, they cannot be over-cuddled) let them fall asleep in your arms and binge watch Netflix if that’s what helps you get through it all.
If you need to drink a coffee at 2am, then go for it.
If you need to drive your baby around the block for half an hour to get them to sleep, then do it (provided you’re awake enough to drive, you know – safety).
If you need to wake your husband up and get him to take over for a bit. Do it.
If you need to nurse them constantly while reading everything you can find on Pinterest, then do that too.
The point is, you do whatever it is you need to do to get you through.
As long as you are safe, as long as your baby is fed and loved, then it’s okay to do whatever it takes to get you through this rough time.
So while it feels like this will never end, like you’re doing everything wrong or like your baby is somehow broken and you missed out on a baby that sleeps like an angel, I promise it won’t last forever and you can get through it.
Remind yourself of these things when your baby won’t sleep and remember to take a deep breath. You are literally the most important person in the world to your gorgeous little baby, sleep will come.