Baby sleep – what’s the solution?

| July 29, 2013

Functioning without a decent amount of sleep is one of the harder parts of having a baby. Jodie Benveniste from Parent Wellbeing says that instead of looking for a foolproof method, new parents should try to find a style of parenting that they are most comfortable with.

When I first became a parent, I found the lack of sound, undisturbed sleep one of the most difficult aspects of caring for my baby. With a good night’s sleep I feel capable and sane. I have energy, I’m organised, and I can think clearly.

But without sleep, I feel as though I’m walking through a deep fog. Simple activities like folding the washing, pushing a trolley down the supermarket aisle and driving the car become hard work.

More complex activities, like reading the newspaper, talking about worldly issues with my friends or hosting a dinner party are virtually impossible.

But babies do not conveniently enter the world ready to sleep eight hours a night to fit in with our sleeping patterns. Instead they wake and demand attention at all hours of the day and night.

Consequently, sleep deprivation – feeling bad-tempered, irritated, teary, clumsy, forgetful and all together half-human – is an occupational hazard for parents of newborns.

Many of us go looking for baby sleep solutions. Ideally, we’re looking for a foolproof method to get our baby to sleep so we can get more shut-eye too.

But that’s where we can run into trouble. There are differing opinions on most aspects of baby care, and baby sleep is probably the starkest example.

Some experts tell you to ‘teach’ your baby to sleep, which involves, to varying degrees, leaving your baby to cry. Other experts on attachment parenting advocate sleeping with your baby and never letting them cry.

Both tend to suggest that their method is ‘best for your baby’. But since they advocate completely opposite approaches, how can they both be right?

I admit that I like a measure of routine, order and independence for my baby and myself so I lean towards the teaching to sleep rather than attachment parenting. (I don’t advocate crying it out).

But I acknowledge that my style of parenting is not about which method is ‘best for my baby’, or which method is better. Instead, my style of parenting reflects the person I am, and what I feel comfortable implementing.

If you’re uncomfortable letting your baby cry, or if you don’t like co-sleeping, following someone else’s methods probably won’t work. We must all decide how to care for our baby based on our values and the person we are.

It also helps to be realistic about how much sleep we’ll actually get in our baby’s first year. For most of us, it won’t be as much as we’d like!

The best we can do is rest when we can, and marvel at how much we can actually achieve on four hours’ sleep. And remember that fortunately, interrupted sleep doesn’t go on forever.


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Jodie Benveniste

Jodie Benveniste is a psychologist, parenting author and the director of Parent Wellbeing. Sign up for free weekly parenting advice and inspiration at

One Comment

  1. nixtopoole

    August 12, 2013 at 6:32 am

    It’s really a very helpful post

    It's really a very helpful post for women who are becoming a mother or having a toddler baby. In fact, as a mother I have learned so many helpful tips for a baby sleep, I hope I would be able to read such posts regularly.