I felt frustrated getting my four-month-old to sleep. You’d think after reading so many baby books, I’d know how difficult caring for a baby would be. How much I wasn’t going to sleep, and how different my life would be. I knew all that, but nothing compares to being slapped with a big fat reality check once I became a new mom.
Up until we sleep trained, I struggled with sleep deprivation, sleeping in one-hour increments. I felt robbed of time because I was breastfeeding. I grew frustrated when I couldn’t understand why my newborn was crying or how to get him to calm down.
It didn’t help that he was a crier. As in, frequent and loud—no soft mew-mewing here. I found myself wishing time to speed up just to get to the point when parenting would finally get easier.
They don’t kid you when they say your life turns upside down with a baby. His temperament and my expectations of motherhood collided. In hindsight, I learned a lot about parenthood, including these lessons:
Lessons I learned as a new mom
Your baby can only stay awake an hour to an hour and a half at a time
Babies can’t stay up for long because they start feeling over-tired. Typically, they shouldn’t be awake longer than an hour and a half.
Feed the baby after he wakes up
I used to nurse my baby to sleep because it was almost guaranteed that he would knock out. While it almost always worked, I also created a little guy who relied too much on nursing to fall asleep.
Only down the line did I start feeding him after he woke up. This way, he doesn’t rely on milk to sleep, and he’ll have energy from milk once he woke up.
Establish a routine
Establishing a routine is a must. Start with bathing at night, reading books and singing. And create a daily routine based on your baby’s rhythms. You’ll find your baby will sleep, drink milk and play, before repeating the cycle.
Struggling to create a daily routine? Get my FREE daily routine printable, perfect for tracking naps, outings and tasks. Download it below:
I couldn’t believe it when people told us not to rock him to sleep. “How cruel! They don’t know what they’re talking about!” I couldn’t wrap my thoughts around the idea that you shouldn’t rock your baby to sleep.
But I had the wrong impression. I thought they were saying not to hold them often, or to let them cry it out (too early at this age). What they were saying was to let your baby fall asleep on his own.
Give your baby a chance to fall asleep on his own
I heard the old adage of putting him down drowsy but awake. I would hold him until his eyes would close, and then lay him down into his crib in slow motion. The minute his body hit contact with the mattress… BAM! Those eyes flew open, and drowsy was out the door.
I thought, Oh no! He’s not drowsy anymore! Let me pick him up and rock him some more, and the cycle would repeat over and over.
I didn’t realize my mistake: I was picking him up right away. Yes, his eyes will open wide when he hits the mattress. But that doesn’t mean he can’t get drowsy and eventually fall asleep.
All in hindsight
I wish I could give myself advice back then. But at that moment I could only trust people when they said it would get better. And it absolutely did.
Get more tips for a new mom:
- Newborn Care Tips and Tricks for Moms You’ll Be Glad You Read
- Why We Need to Ask Dads about Their Work Life Balance
- Why Motherhood Is Hard for You
- Ask the Readers: When Did You Know You Were Done Having babies?
- 8 Common Myths First Time Moms Believe about Parenthood
What advice would you give a new mom? Let us know in the comments below!
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