Helping your baby sleep through the night: Managing your expectations

So here I am, 2.5 years into being a mommy. It’s been a fabulously wild ride and I continue to learn new things each day.

Over these past couple of years I’ve learned a lot of babies and their sleep cycles. I wrote here about my experience with A’s first 6 months of sleeping but I continue to get questions about infant sleep and how our girls are such great sleepers.

So I wanted to write a few posts detailing how we taught our girls to sleep. That’s right, I said how we taught our girls to sleep.

Now I recognize that I may have just lost many of you with that simple phrase. But if you can bear with me and keep an open mind, I think you will see that we’re not those evil parents who are letting their newborn cry all night.

On the contrary, outside of a small amount of fussing there hasn’t really been much crying associated with our methods. They have ultimately led to our daughters developing healthy sleep habits without much need for “sleep training” or “cry-it-out.”

Let me also start by saying that this is all about what worked for our family. Each family as different and if you want to to do it differently, more power to you. You do you and I’ll do me, no judgement- we’re all moms and we are all experts on our own kids.

If you’re a sanctimommy and only looking to judge then this probably isn’t the post to be reading. We should keep our relationship at more of an agree-to-disagree-here-check-out-some-tasty-recipes level.

That being said, let’s get back to how we taught our girls to sleep. J and I are firm believers that as parents, it is our job to teach our children basic life skills from the very start. This includes (but certainly is not limited to) how to sleep, how to eat, how to behave, how to treat others etc.

With that in mind my first piece of advice in helping your baby sleep through the night is setting realistic expectations.

Here is some practical advice and tips on how to help your baby sleep through the night. Specifically about managing your expectations. These tips helped both of our girls SO much!!

Before I was a parent, I operated under the assumption that it was an all or nothing thing. One day your kid is up all night and the next they sleep through the night forever and ever and you resume your previous sleep habits (though maybe waking a bit earlier).

This was terribly naive of me and stemmed primarily from the fact that I simply hadn’t put much thought into how kids (and humans in general) operate when it comes to sleep.

Here are a few realities about kids and sleep:

  1. Sleeping through the night doesn’t mean that they will never, ever wake again. Kids get sick. Babies sprout teeth. Toddlers have nightmares. They go through phases where their sleep may regress. But…
  2. That doesn’t mean you’ll never sleep again. You will. I promise. It’s just a little different (like life in general as a parent).
  3. When it comes to babies and sleep there are two sides of that coin: You setting the baby up for success (which I will address more in depth in my next post about this) and your baby being ready to sleep through the night. One of these things you can control, the other you cannot. Know the difference.

With these basic truths in mind, I strongly encourage you manage your expectations by looking at it from a realistic point of view. Know that there will be some tough nights.

If you’re accurately managing your expectations about this whole sleep thing, you will have a much easier time weathering the storms if and when they come. As with most baby-related things, everything is a phase. A week in baby time is like a month or more in adult time. So even if this week is tough, next week could turn out to be super easy!

But more importantly, you will also be able to do the right things to set your baby up for success so that once they are ready, they will have all the tools they need to make it through the night and you will feel confident in your role as their parent and teacher of life skills.

Check back soon for some information on setting your baby up for success.

You can read all of my parenting related posts here.

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