Want to hear the truth about newborn baby sleep? If you’re pregnant, you may want to make sure you’re sitting down.
Everyone jokes about the tiring early weeks with a newborn baby, but I don’t recall anyone fully preparing me for the utter mindf**k that is trying to figure out why my crying, tired baby won’t just fall asleep.
This is the truth about baby sleep that no-one tells you:
1. The first few days are not a sign of things to come
Your baby is knackered and hardly had a chance to get their head round the trauma of being born. Therefore in those first few days, your baby is going to be extremely sleepy.
They will be passed around relatives without a flinch, they will nap for hours at a time and you will worry about whether you should wake them for a feed.
This does not mean you have given birth to a child who will sleep through the night. Do not believe the early days, they are not a sign of things to come.
Once your baby is fully online, then you will get an idea of what you’re dealing with.
2. Drowsy but awake is nonsense
Everyone, from the health visitor to the baby books to the NHS website will be screaming at you to put your baby down drowsy but awake.
Apparently there is some kind of mystical timing, a split second, when we should get our babies in bed, swaddled and mentally ready to nap. Try to put them down any other time, and they just won’t go for it.
The trouble is, finding this miracle time. I have had two babies and I’m not three years in to this parenting experiment and I have still yet to figure out how the hell to do the drowsy but awake magic trick.
The fact is, most drowsy babies will snap out of the drowsy state and scream the second their back hits the mattress because they just want to be cuddled to sleep. It’s almost like they haven’t read any of the baby books?
3. They pull some crazy faces
I’m talking smirking, grinning, eyebrow-lifting, frowning and pouting. They also open their eyes a bit every now and then when they’re in a deep sleep.
I recall watching my first baby sleeping when we were still in the hospital and I swear one eye opened and her eyeball was whirling round in a circle.
It’s hilarious to watch, and sometimes a bit weird!
4. Putting them down is scary
That moment when you decide your arm/back/bladder can take it no more and you simply must put this snoozing baby down feels like Mission Impossible. You’re desperate for the baby to just transfer with no issues, but know from past experience that even the babies in the deepest of sleeps know the second you even think about putting them down.
To pee or not to pee, that is the question.
5. Sleep advice will terrify you
Thanks to research and new information the advice about preventing sudden infant death is extensive.
But it’s also terrifying to read the statistics and stories behind it. You will worry when they start to roll over onto their tummy and decide they prefer that for sleep and you will panic about whether the blankets are tucked in properly.
I’ve stopped counting the worry lines on my face!
6. For something so small, they make a lot of noise
Both of my kids grunted, fidgeted and laughed in their sleep. The noise meant sleep when the baby sleeps became tough advice to follow!
They could also breathe seriously loudly when I was trying desperately to get to sleep, but would then randomly change this up to breathing so quietly I worried if they were alive.
I lost count of the number of times I had to sit up and rest my hand on their chest to double check they were breathing.
7. You could spend a fortune
Between the night lights, musical toys, soothing music playlists, special bedding and supposedly magical bath products laced with sleep-inducing scent, you could spend every penny you have on getting your baby to sleep.
Many people claim to have the miracle cure. It is worth trying a few different things to see what works for you, but don’t bankrupt yourself doing it!
At the end of the day, your child will sleep eventually.
8. The stress about room temperature is insane
Is the room too hot or too cold? It might be too hot now, but what will it be by 3am? Will the baby overheat? Will they wake up because they’re too cold? Sleepsuit with a vest or without?
We have had endless debates about what the kids should be wearing to bed so they’re safe and comfortable. Overheating is one of the biggest worries with a newborn.
Products such as the GroBag make this a bit easier because the sleeping bags come with a thermometer that tells you what your child should wear to bed based on the temperature in the room.
You’ll still find yourself worrying over what they should wear when it’s 30C summer heat outside.
9. You will feel powerless
Your baby may not be in a routine at all or they may be in a routine that totally doesn’t work for you.
In those early weeks you will probably feel pretty powerless at some point. When it comes to sleep, the baby is in charge at this stage! They’re also stubborn little buggers.
When you try to rock them to sleep because they’re so tired their cries have reached “I’m being murdered, send help” levels of distress, they still fight sleep!
Wave the white flag and accept defeat.
10. Everyone is an expert
Have you tried the colic hold?
Have you tried a bottle before bed?
Have you tried a dream feed?
Have you tried letting his dad do bedtime?
Have you tried baby massage?
Have you made sure you’re getting outside lots in the day?
Have you tried a solid bedtime routine?
If you have a newborn and you’re tired, chances are you’ve heard at least one or all of these remarks.
Everyone thinks they know the secret to baby sleep. The fact is no one does. But they will try to help, a lot!
You will learn to nod, smile and change the subject.
Are any of these familiar? Was there anything about newborn sleep that took you by surprise? Let me know in the comments!