June 03, 2014

How well does your baby sleep at night?

I think this is the question I get asked most about Sully (or some version of it), regardless of how well I know the person asking it. Everyone wants to know how much sleep you are and aren't getting at night. Is your baby sleeping through the night? How often are they getting up? How are you coping with the loss of sleep? Are they sleeping in their crib? It's hard not to feel defencive when asked these questions. I often feel like it's a competition - who's baby is sleeping better and in longer stretches throughout the night? If I tell people my baby is up often throughout the night, and I am exhausted during the day, am I failing as a new mom? If I tell them it's a non-issue because we co-sleep, do I see judgement in their eyes? There are so many challenges we new moms are presented with, and the issue of sleep/sleeplessness is high up on the list.

Before Sully was born, I never really thought too much about bedtime and bedtime routine. I (naively) assumed that he would sleep in his moses basket beside our bed for the first few weeks and then in his crib after that. I had visions of myself spending hours during the night, in the expensive glider chair we purchased for his nursery, nursing my son and catching up on the reading I missed out on during the day.

Well. For the record, Sully hasn't spent one night in either his bassinet or his crib, and the only time I've rocked him in the glider chair is during daytime nursing sessions when I feel like changing up the scenery from the downstairs couch.

So where does he sleep? There's only one place left: our bed. Co-sleeping or bed-sharing, is not for everyone, but right now it's what is working for us, and really, I have learned that having a newborn in the house is all about doing what works for you. I never imagined that we would become a co-sleeping family, but co-sleeping has allowed me to get decent sleep at night and not be tired during the day or feel the need for naps. I get mixed reactions when I tell people we bed-share with Sully. Some see it as a negative thing, a "problem" we'll be "sorry" we started. Others totally get it. I say, don't knock it till you've tried it!


No one knows what kind of baby they are going to have…a good sleeper, a not so good sleeper, a good napper, a fussy baby, etc. From day one in the hospital, Sully hated the cold, plastic bassinets the hospitals provide for your baby. I think the most he ever slept in one was for 4 hours, and that was after the nurse kindly woke him up at 6am to give him his first bath. Otherwise, he wanted to be held. And how could I deny my perfect, little son that demand? So I started holding him while he slept. And then one night (I spent 6 nights in the hospital - birth story coming soon!), I kept him in bed with me all night. It was just easier that way. I couldn't, after my c-section, get out of bed to pick up my baby and then get back into bed and reposition myself while holding my baby without the nurses help. When I was done nursing, I would call the nurse to put Sully back in the bassinet, and within 20 minutes I would be calling her again to have her hand him back to me as he was already fussing. So I decided to stop bothering the nurses and just hold him.

Did I start something there? Maybe. Did I have any other choice at the time? Maybe. But I didn't see it that way. I did what I needed to do and it worked for me. The first few nights at home we tried the moses basket beside the bed and he would wake up after only being in it for 20 minutes, sometimes even less. We even tried putting him in the mamaroo swing right beside our bed and even that didn't work. Unsure what else we could do, we brought him into bed with us. We all slept that night, and I realized that bed-sharing just felt right.  Not to mention that nursing in bed at night is effortless, quick, and makes for falling back asleep a breeze.

I have a lot of friends that have all had babies in the last year and each and every one of them have their own stories to tell about their baby's sleep habits. Some have amazing little sleepers, baby's who will sleep most of the night away in their cribs, and some who need a little bit more attention to get through the night. Some co-sleep, some do not. Some started a bedtime routine early on, while others waited. As a first time parent, it's hard to know what to do: do I establish a (rigid) bedtime routine? At what age? 3 months, 6 months? Or do I listen to my baby's cues? What time is bedtime for a 3 month old? I worried at one point that I would have to hold Sully while he slept forever! But my mom wisely told me that one day he would not want to be held as it would no longer be comfortable for him. And as I type this, he is sound asleep in bed beside me.


So where do we go from here? I'm not sure. Part of me thinks why fix something that isn't broken? I'm not sleep deprived, tired during the day, or desperate for a nap when afternoon rolls around. We'll probably leave Sully in our bed for a little while longer, although I do think about trying him in his crib just to see if and how his sleep pattern at night changes. But for now, I'm keeping him here right beside me, right where I want him.

Friends, I'd love to hear what the sleeping situation is like with your little ones. How and when did you establish a bedtime routine? Do you recommend any books on the matter?


  1. Omigosh, Brie, this post MADE MY NIGHT. Seriously, there is no bigger topic than how a baby sleeps, and there's so much "mommy shaming" that centers around baby's sleep (or lack thereof). I applaud you for doing exactly what works for you and Sully and, in my opinion, that's exactly what a good mom does!

    Marko's been sleeping in his crib since day 1, but he used to fall asleep in his swing and then we'd transfer him to bed. (We got the idea from The Happiest Baby on the Block and it worked like a charm!) I used to sit on the floor beside his swing and read him picture books while he drifted off to sleep. We did sleep training for a few nights to teach him how to fall asleep in his bed on his own (harder on me than it was on him) and now he goes down to sleep all on his own. We started with the crib in our room, but moved him into his own room just before his eight-month birthday.

    With that being said, when he wakes in the night, we bring him into bed with us, so we all wake up together in the morning. There's really something wonderful about waking up to his big brown eyes and even bigger smile. It truly gets my day off to a great start. Plus, our mornings are so crazy now with getting ready for work and daycare, so it's always wonderful to have a few minutes of family snuggles before we get up to start our day.

    I think that, at the end of the day, every mom needs to do what feels right for her and her baby. What worked for us might not work for someone else, and vice versa. But Sully seems like a happy, healthy baby, so whatever you're doing is working for him! Keep up the good work =)

    1. Melissa - I WISH Sully would fall asleep in his swing! Or stay sleeping when we transfer him to it. I think there are so many different factors that affect what kind of sleep techniques we will use as parents - if Sully would fall asleep in a swing, etc, then we probably would have tried him in his crib a lot sooner.

      And I totally agree - waking up together in the morning is so nice! Plus, it allows me to lay there for 20 minutes or so and *really* wake up while Sully coos beside me :)

      Thanks so much for your comment, you're the best :)

  2. We started a routine right in the beginning, watching for cues about when baby was tired so that we could get him down. He's always been good about night and day that it just gets easier and easier when it comes to getting him down -- and having him stay down. Bedtime is much easier than naps! He would sleep in his playard first for naps, then in his boppy, and now in his crib. The last few nights he's even slept 10 hours straight which is great! We do bring him in bed first thing in the morning for cuddles. We don't sleep anymore, but it's fun to have those morning snuggles. :)

  3. Awww he looks so little and cute <3 <3