Do babies ever really sleep?

Is it just us, or is the first question new moms get after a few weeks at home with their brand new baby, “How is he/she sleeping?” 

It’s like this universally known thing one MUST ask a new momma.  Heck, even as mommas ourselves, we have asked this question to our own new momma friends! 

Everyone knows that one of the toughest parts about bringing home a new baby is the sudden unimaginable sleep deprivation that hits you like a ton of bricks.  In those early moments, we’re often still running on adrenaline, the profound new feelings of love (AKA Oxytocin) and trying to figure out this whole feeding baby, while still remembering to feed ourselves thing.  Then a few weeks roll by and it hits.....pure, unadulterated exhaustion.  Like fall asleep standing up kind of exhaustion.   

So, while we don’t have the magic wand and know that this is just part of the initiation into motherhood, be it your 1st or your 10th babe, it’s bound to hit at some point in the game.  We have a few tips that have helped us to lessen the blow and extend those sleeping hours during the night, so that we were slightly less mombie-ish during the day. 


Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle.  Newborns have an innate startle reflex that causes them to feel as though they are falling (we’ve all had that dream that startles us awake), which in turn wakes them up from their blissful slumber.  Remember, they were folded up tightly in this little home of a womb just a weeks before, where they hit a stretchy wall each time they startled.  Swaddles act as this tight, womb-like hug that helps hold back that startle reflex, thus keeping baby in their happy little dream land a little bit longer! 


Do you see a trend here? We are attempting to mimic the womb.  Inside your womb, baby hears sounds all day in a very muted and fuzzy hum (think about when you are under water in a pool…it’s a blissful quiet but you can hear the hum of people talking above).  A sound machine not only mimics this ongoing hum, it blocks out loud and sudden noises that occur in daily life which can disrupt baby’s sleep.  They’re also very soothing to sleep with as an adult, so if baby is in your bedroom – you might just find yourself sleeping a little deeper too! 


We know, this sounds kind of weird to do with a tiny baby, but trust us, it works.  Humans are creatures of habit and routine. We thrive off predictability and schedule.  If you can create a consistent schedule with consistent cues, baby is more likely to know that it is bedtime.   

For example, maybe before bed you give baby a massage, offer a feeding, put on their sleep gown, turn on the white noise machine, sing a song/read a book, and tell them goodnight.  The more consistently you do this, the more baby will associate all of these cues with bedtime and he/she will learn that sleep immediately follows this routine. 


Waiting to change baby’s diaper until after a middle of the night feed risks baby waking up too much after the feeding is finished.  Instead, change baby’s diaper right upon waking, re-swaddle, and then feed.  Having jammies that zip from bottom up make this even easier, leaving babies chest and arms covered while just exposing their little legs and diapering region.  

Of course, if your new baby has a habit of pooping directly after a feed, then it makes more sense to wait it out.  Eventually, as baby’s gut matures and he/she stops pooping directly after a night feed, you can proceed with the above advice. 


I know, this is the strangest one to grasp.  An overtired baby will wake more frequently and be harder to put to sleep.  Isn’t that so backwards? But it’s the truth! The more baby sleeps, the MORE they will sleep!  Keeping a baby awake longer in hopes that you will tire them out and they’ll sleep longer can actually end up backfiring.  Studies show that an overtired baby sleeps shorter, not longer, as bizarre as that is to wrap our sleepy adult heads around.   

So, if baby is having trouble going and staying asleep, it's possible that they are actually over-tired.  Try to follow the wake time schedule that is appropriate for your baby’s age. Here is an awesome resource for learning about baby’s wake windows: 


Babies make all sorts of noises in their sleep, just like adults, we move, turn, wiggle, snore, you get the idea.  Believe it or not, your baby does too.  Sometimes this comes in the form of a coo, cry out, wiggle and babble all while still being asleep.  If you rush to them too quickly to pick them up, you may actually be inadvertently waking them up. 

We recommend waiting anywhere between 2-10 minutes before attending to baby if they start making noises in the middle of the night.  Its highly possible they may actually drift back into a quiet slumber.  Of course, always pay attention to your own baby’s noises and cries, as you know best when they are needing you. 


This is a biggie for teaching a baby how to fall asleep without a crutch (ie a bottle, rocking, or nursing).  Now trust us here, this might be the hardest one for us to follow our own advice on, we have rocked and fed plenty a baby to sleep, MANY a times but it's better to have that as a sweet extra time for cuddles than a mandatory event that needs to happen in order for your baby to go to sleep.  Catch our drift? 

Just like us, babies WILL wake throughout the night and if they cannot get back to sleep without their sleep crutch, the night waking will go on for much longer than it needs to.  This is completely a personal choice but we want to offer you an option that has helped and has been studied my many a sleep expert.  Instead, go through their sleep routine with them until they are drowsy but not fully asleep.  Lay them down in their safe sleep space and, if needed, place a gentle but firm hand over their chest while they drift off to sleep.   


This too shall pass.  Don’t kick yourself if you think you’ve created ‘bad habits’ with your baby and sleep.  You do what you need to do to get through each night.  Every mother and every baby is different, and what works for one won’t work for the other.  Follow your heart and do what works to create a happy balance for both you and your baby.  If sleep training is what helps create a happy mom (and therefore a happy baby), then do that! If sleeping with a baby on the boob all night helps you get the rest you need, we urge you to do that! There is no one size fits all here.  

You WILL sleep again one day, we promise! Until then, drink ALL the coffee momma and know that we are here living the same kind of crazy you are and wouldn’t want it any other way! 

Chat soon,

Mandy & Kalie 




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