When Your Child Doesn’t Sleep

Whether you’re battling a colicky baby, a newborn that is up every hour to nurse, or a toddler who just seems to have no chill mode – sleep deprivation as a new parent is a real thing. So how can you best navigate those sleepless nights when your little one just doesn’t seem to get a good night’s sleep? Read on for some of the best tips for keeping sane and finding peace in those early morning hours.

Make The Best Of The Time

As a new mom, being up in the middle of the night is the most frustrating when it messes with your expectations. If you go into it ahead of time knowing you will be up, it lessens the blow of finding yourself unexpectedly awakened. I’d love to say that I was super productive and got many important things done during those midnight hours but honestly – I mostly just watched old reruns on TV. Even so, I found a way to bring myself a little bit of enjoyment which helped make surviving those early months just a little bit easier. I became very familiar with the early morning schedule during that time!

Take It In Shifts

When my daughter was little, she very rarely slept for more than 30 minutes at a time. She had some complications that made getting a good night’s sleep very difficult for her – and me. Luckily, I had an understanding husband who was willing to wake up early and trade-off with me. We both worked, so I would take the first shift and he would take the second shift. Around 4am he would take over so I could get some sleep before leaving together for work around 9am. I cannot even begin to explain to you how helpful this was both mentally and psychologically. Sleep deprivation is no joke! When you aren’t able to get any sleep and there is no hope in sight, it can really begin to mess with your mind. But with this system, I could simply watch the clock (especially on those rough nights) knowing that my relief was coming soon.

Phone A Friend

Got a new mommy friend you know is awake at midnight too? Give her a ring and keep each other company during those long, lonely nights. Having someone else in the same boat to talk through all of the joys and pitfalls of parenting is invaluable and will lessen the strain of those early days of motherhood. You could agree to text each other jokes, watch a favorite TV show together, or simply trade parenting war stories. If you’ve both got to be up anyway – you might as well enjoy it!

Manage Expectations

Although the baby books will tell you that your infant should be sleeping up to 16-18 hours per day, that just isn’t always the case. Every child is different, and some simply sleep less than others. The same goes for when or if your baby will sleep through the night. There are so many factors that go into your little one’s sleeping patterns and habits. Letting go of those expectations of a perfect night’s sleep early on will save you much heartache. Disappointments and unmet expectations are some of the biggest contributors to stress and unhappiness. Having realistic expectations for what your child’s sleep may look like in those early months and years will go a long way towards having a more peaceful parenting experience.

Do What Works For You

My daughter battled some health issues early on, and when it became clear that putting her down to sleep on her own just wasn’t going to be a workable option, I made a decision to do what was best for our family and bring her (safely) into our bed. While the movies make it seem like every baby sleeps peacefully through the night in their own beautifully decorated crib after just a few months, that isn’t always the reality. It is important to remember there isn’t anything wrong with you if your family life doesn’t match the movies. Will your toddler only go to sleep if someone climbs in the bed with her? Does your mother-in-law insist that a nightly full body massage with lavender oil should do the trick for your newborn? Do you need to hire a postpartum doula to come take over the night shift? When it comes to ensuring that everyone in your house gets a good night’s sleep, it’s important to pick your battles. If you find something that works, go with it. You can always adjust it later.

Remember: This Too Shall Pass

Looking back I can barely remember the stress and weariness of those days. Instead, I mostly remember the happy times. It may not seem like it now when you’re running on survival mode, but one day soon this will all be in the past. I won’t be that annoying mom who tells you “enjoy every moment” but I will say this – when you’re holding your precious little one who is drifting off to sleep in your arms, lock in those beautiful moments in your mind because one day they will become some of your most treasured memories. Before you know it, you’ll be sitting up waiting for your teenager to waltz in the front door after midnight instead of sitting up rocking them to sleep in the nursery. Thankfully, whether you’re dealing with toddlers or teenagers, one of the most helpful mantras to carry with you throughout motherhood is the simple thought of “this too shall pass”.

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