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Sleep & Your Baby

How many books, manuals and even blogs are there out there on “getting your baby to sleep”.  There are even “coaches” for new parents who will help them “get their...

How many books, manuals and even blogs are there out there on “getting your baby to sleep”.  There are even “coaches” for new parents who will help them “get their baby to sleep through the night.” 

The longer I practice the more I realize that every baby is different and it really doesn’t matter which book/blog you read....it takes some time to get a newborn to sleep through the night.  If you told expectant parents that it is “tough” in the beginning and sleepless nights are “normal”, most of us would have thought, “not me and my baby”.  Like many things you have to live it to learn.

Getting a baby to sleep through the night is not really an intellectual endeavor, which parenting is later in life. You can read books, talk to a coach, buy all sorts of gizmos and “sleep equipment”, but it also just takes time.  Some of you may just stop reading right now and go, NOT MY BABY!

A newborn baby does not enter this world knowing about circadian rhythms, or lengthy periods of sleep without eating.  A baby really only wants to eat and sleep.... and in the beginning, on their own schedule! Learning to sleep is like a lab in college, lots of hours in class with little credit.  

Of course I believe in things like, “Try to put your baby down to sleep when they are tired but not asleep and they will learn to quiet themselves”. “Try to keep your baby up a bit after their feeding during the day, rather than letting them go right back to sleep”. “Try to only feed your baby every 2-3 hours during the day which will help get them on a schedule”. There are a million other suggestions as well. The only one that I know I always adhere to is “Your new baby must only sleep on their back”, other than that, the first few weeks and even months learning to sleep is just practice, practice, practice. 

Yes, some babies are better sleepers than others, just like you will see some children are better readers while other are better athletes or artists. Some parents will have a baby that is sleeping 6-8 hours by 6-8 weeks and other parents will have to keep “practicing” with their baby for 3-4 months, everyone is different. 

But, do not start off feeling like a failure as a parent if your baby is not sleeping while your friend or co-worker’s child is. Parenting is not a competition and realizing this early on will make some parental struggles a bit easier to handle over the next 21 years. Your baby will learn to sleep...but like so many things, it takes time and practice. 

If I had the potion...trust me I would be selling it by now, there is not a new parent out there that would not buy it....just don’t think the FDA will approve the patent.

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About Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award winning pediatrician and medical editor for www.kidsdr.com.  She is a native of Washington, D.C. who travelled south to attend the University of Texas at Austin and never left.Read More

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