Moms Don’t Want to Hear Any More Baby Sleep Advice
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Anyone that says they “slept like a baby”- has never had a baby. Unless they meant that they woke up often to cry, eat, fill their diaper, and snuggle throughout the night.
Okay, it’s true. Some babies do sleep pretty well. But in reality, babies- especially newborn babies- need attention often, at least every three hours, if not sooner.
It’s not that babies are innately terrible sleepers; they just need time to adjust to their new surroundings and work hard learning new tasks, like feeding and other bodily functions.
Ultimately, a baby’s sleep pattern can leave parents downright exhausted. So what can they do to sleep more and feel like a human again?
If I had a nickel…
How many moms have heard the advice, “Sleep when the baby sleeps?” Thankfully, I’ve only heard it a handful of times. Once, even my daughter’s pediatrician mentioned it when I broke down in tears after a particularly rough night of feedings in her first two weeks.
I know some moms always get this advice, making it a palm-in-face-worthy moment.
Why “Sleep When the Baby Sleeps” Isn’t Helpful
The annoying advice, typically solicited from the older generations, to “sleep when the baby sleeps” is often given to new parents struggling with exhaustion. The underlying idea behind this advice is that it’s important for parents to get rest when they can. However, in practice, it’s almost never a helpful suggestion.
For many parents, sleeping when their baby does is possible because of other commitments like work, chores, or caring for other children. Additionally, even if time is available for sleep, it might not be enough to make up for the exhaustion of having a newborn (most moms need more than a 40-minute cat nap; they need a full 90-minute cycle of sleep!- at least.)
As such, the advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps” can be frustrating and unhelpful since it doesn’t consider all the other obligations that new parents must juggle. Many moms on social media can agree:
Sleep when the baby sleeps!— Lauren Markham (@LaurenMarkham_) September 13, 2022
Do the laundry when the baby does the laundry!
Wash the dishes when the baby washes dishes!
Finish your book when your baby finishes their book!
There are tired moms everywhere, but unfortunately, they have other responsibilities too.
People really said “sleep when the baby sleeps” to me about my second baby. Ok, I’ll just sleep and let the first baby die then 🙄— Brooke Tansley (@BrookeTansley) January 1, 2022
This thread goes on to a reply saying, “Cry when the baby cries.” This is more helpful advice than most- sometimes, a mom just needs to get in a good cry and release some emotions.
How to Help a Sleep-Deprived Parent
If you see a parent struggling, here’s what you can do.
- Don’t offer any unsolicited advice.
- Ask how you can help.
- Offer your help if you can. Maybe they can sleep if you offer to watch their other children or tackle a load of laundry or dinner for them.
- Gently remind them that sleep deprivation is a phase- it will get better!
- Encourage them to ask for more help from their family, friends, partner, physician, etc.
Sleep deprivation is a serious issue that can affect mental health, physical health, and our relationships. Offering a parent help (or helping them brainstorm ideas for getting help) is great. Offering them annoying advice? No thanks.
Have you gotten this advice as a parent before?
Have you given it before? (It’s okay, now you know better).