I don’t know a single parent who’s never googled about baby sleep, and anyone who says they haven’t is probably lying. We all want to know how much our babies should be getting, if the drowsy-but-awake advice actually works for anyone and, mostly, when the heck we’ll ever get our eight hours again.
Of course, newborns are meant to have chaotic sleep schedules, says Maria Escola, a certified gentle sleep coach and founder of Sleepy Miracles Consulting in Langley, BC. It’s totally normal and expected for babies to wake up several times throughout the night and to need help falling back asleep.
When does that stop? It depends. Escola says it’s typically not until about six months that a healthy baby could be getting an eight-hour stretch, although some parents will say theirs achieved this milestone earlier, and others say their 18-month-old has still never gone a full night without a wake-up.
If you’re desperate for anything that might help in those first few months, rest assured that sleep experts say you can pretty much do whatever works. “Don’t worry about creating so-called bad habits because you can’t spoil a newborn,” says Escola. “Young babies don’t have the capability to sleep independently, so feeding, rocking or bouncing them to sleep is natural and normal.” There’s plenty of time for them to learn to self-soothe. As for your own exhaustion, all you can do is get through it—share nighttime duties if possible, or you may want to consider bed-sharing (just learn the risks first, since most paediatricians recommend against it). Then there’s the old sleep-when-your-baby-sleeps adage. Not easy, but worth a try!