The Sleep Mistakes I Made With My First Baby

Back when I had my first baby, I had NO idea about baby sleep. Completely clueless – and man, did I suffer for it. I spent the first year sleep deprived and stressed out. But the worst thing was the emotional fallout from it all: I was teary every day and constantly beating myself up for not having a baby that ‘slept through the night’.

Looking back now, I can see where i went wrong oh so clearly. Don’t you love hindsight?

I made some rookie mum sleep mistakes back then that prevented any of us from getting decent slumber in those early months, but the biggest mistake I made during all that time was treating a full night of sleep like it was some sort of holy grail.

Don’t get me wrong: if I had a baby now, I’d still be yearning for a decent night’s sleep. But I wouldn’t be all stressed out about it. I’m sure the way I obsessed about sleep made the whole situation a billion times worse. In fact, if I’d known a few things back then, I would have spent less time worrying about sleep and more time accepting my little night-guy for the baby he was.

Here are 7 baby sleep mistakes I made:

  1. I had no idea about sleep 

I didn’t know the first thing about baby sleep cycles or what babies actually needed when it came to sleep. This meant I did a number of things that completely backfired when it came to sorting my baby’s sleep out, like keeping him awake for too long between naps  or putting him to bed later at night so he’d sleep for a better stretch. Big mistakes. Big. Huge.

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  1. I tried to make my baby fit the book 

I read a stack of baby sleep books and tore my hair out over every one of them. It took me ages to figure out that these books weren’t designed for my baby, who had his own little temperament and needed a tailored approach, not a textbook one. Treating these books as gospel made me feel like my baby was broken and that I was failing in the sleep department. But the truth was, he had his own sleep style, and there was nothing wrong with either of us – just my approach.

  1. I stressed too much about bad habits   

My baby used to love being rocked and fed to sleep, but I was warned constantly about the rod I was creating for my back. This meant I beat myself up for enjoying watching him fall asleep in my arms and put us both through hell trying to get him to fall asleep without me, way before he was ready. Now I know that there was nothing wrong with helping my baby fall asleep, and I could have tweaked things gently and gradually to help him get there on his own.

  1. I didn’t know about the help available  

Back when I was exhausted and desperate, I didn’t know about the services and help around for sleep-deprived mums, like private sleep consulting  and sleep school. Believe me, if I’d known back then that you could take your wakeful baby to some other place, where they help you get sleep on track PLUS let you slumber for more than 45 minutes in a row, I would have been at their door, suitcase in hand.

  1. I bought into the hype    

When it comes to sleep, every parent is looking for the miracle fix that gets their baby to suddenly love it. I was no exception to this, and bought into every sleep gimmick going: the lullaby machines, the sleep CDs, the special sleeping bags. My shelves were lined with the latest books promising sleep solutions. Nothing worked. And my wallet was lighter than it had ever been.

  1. I compared with other mums  

Every mum I met seemed to have a perfect sleeper for a baby, and I couldn’t help but compare myself with them, which left me feeling seriously inferior. Once I was past my sleep-deprived fog, I realised that all babies come with their own sleep style and habits, so comparing the baby that goes down every night from 7pm-7am with my little night owl was a pointless and painful task.

  1. I worried too much about sleep   

It’s hard to avoid getting obsessed about sleep when you’re not getting any. In fact, when you have a new baby, sleep seems to be the focal point of every conversation, even with complete strangers. But I wasted way too much time and energy stressing out about sleep and what I should have been doing differently, when in fact those months passed in the blink of an eye, and my baby learned to sleep in his own time.

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