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Survival of the Sleepiest: How to Stay Sane When Your Baby Won’t Sleep

Sleep is important for everyone and especially crucial for developing brains, but sometimes our little angels’ nighttime habits don’t quite line up with what we had in mind. If you feel like you’ve exhausted every approach and baby still won’t give you more than a few hours of snooze time, then you might be barely surviving in zombie mode. This isn’t a list of things to try to fix your sleepless wonder, but rather, how to live in spite of it. Here are some suggestions to give you the energy boost you need to make it to your next cup of coffee.

Surrender Expectations

Some babies (and people!) just have more difficulty with sleep, and accepting that sooner will save you some frustration. Every child is unique, and that includes sleep habits. As long as your pediatrician does not find any health concerns related to your child’s wakefulness, let go of your previous standards. Acknowledge that this is hard but it is a season and eventually it will pass.

Sleepless Solidarity

It helps to know you’re not alone. Many babies and toddlers have trouble sleeping, and it doesn’t always mean you’ve done something wrong. Finding support from other parents who have experienced a similar struggle gives you the extra strength to keep going.

Co-Sleep

While some parents intentionally choose to share a room or bed with their baby, others find themselves going this route after every other option has failed. Either way, there’s no shame in sleeping near your baby- people have been doing it for thousands of years! Kellymom.com and Dr. Sears have great information and safety guidelines.

Simple Joys

After a particularly rough night, reward yourself for making it through. This can be a splurge on a fancy coffee or bakery item or a simple, fun outing meant just for you (with or without baby). Be kind to yourself.

Share the Load

If you have a partner, find a way to work together, like alternating getting up at night or certain weeknights. If you are a single parent, take advantage of family members or friends who are willing to help you (day or night!) and find emotional support from other single parents.

Do What Works

Don’t be afraid of “creating bad habits”. You need to do what you need to do in order to be the best parent you can be now. If baby sleeps better when worn in a carrier, in the stroller or car seat, or in a swing, then go for it. When the time comes to transition, you will at least be more rested and ready to give it your all.

Society places so much emphasis on “sleeping through the night,” that it’s easy for new parents to think if their kid doesn’t do it, something must be wrong with either their child or their parenting. However, some babies simply won’t sleep long stretches. If you have one of them, enjoy the extra cuddles and remember you’re a parent-superhero!

Jenna Lombardi
Jenna Lombardi
Jenna Lombardi currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, Aaron and Clare. She loves to travel (even with kids!), find a good bargain, and enjoys an iced chai latte with soy milk every now and then. When she’s not wrangling the kids at the playground or the zoo, she can be found practicing hand lettering, reading about pregnancy and natural childbirth, or testing out a new recipe in the kitchen.