The topic of baby sleep is one that certainly gets brought up often. Many new parents hear the question "Is he/she sleeping through the night yet?" It is like the holy grail and you can't wait for it to happen. But in reality, many many babies do not sleep through the night even in the first year.
I know I had so many misconceptions about baby sleep before becoming a parent and even after my daughter was born. I (stupidly, I admit now) thought almost all babies just slept through the night on their own somewhere between 3-6 months. My mom told me my brother and I both did, so why would my baby be any different? Oh how wrong I was!
I agonized over why my daughter was still waking every 1-2 hours and no matter how many things I tried (making sure she was getting enough naps, moving her bedtime earlier, adding white noise, swaddling, not swaddling, getting blackout curtains), her sleep just never consistently improved.
One day though I came to the realization, why is getting babies to sleep through the night everywhere online and in the bookstores? Why is there a multimillion dollar industry of baby sleep trainers trying to fix your problem baby? I mean if almost all these babies aren't sleeping through the night, then who has problem, really? If the majority of babies need to be sleep trained, then isn't it really the norm for babies NOT to sleep through the night? And if that is the case, then it is really us who have the problem, not all the babies. Right?
Infants are actually meant to wake up frequently and have since the beginning of time. There are many reasons for this. Why are we so compelled to change this now? Because it's inconvenient for us as parents? I get it. We live in a society where we are overworked and not provided with the support to really focus on parenting (little maternity leave, living far away from family support, etc). But as hard as it is, I think it helps to realize that it is just a small phase in your child's life and it WILL pass, naturally, even if you do nothing.
Breastfeeding moms especially always wonder if breastfeeding has something to do with why their baby isn't sleeping. They often question their supply or if their baby would sleep better if topped off with formula at night. However, studies have shown that this isn't the case. Babies wake for many reasons that have nothing to do with hunger. Breastfeeding back to sleep for night wakings provides comfort and helps them drift back to sleep.
I won't get into the great debate on sleep training and all its forms but my only piece of advice is don't ignore your mom instincts. If something doesn't feel right, don't do it, no matter what others tell you.
Here are some of my favorite resources if you find yourself needing a little help or guidance regarding baby sleep:
Books (in no particular order):
Also, if you have a high needs baby like I do (and I'm SURE sleep is a problem), then I found this book helpful in many ways:
If you have any others you'd like to see on this list, please let me know!