With my first baby, I really thought by just riding out the intense newborn period, sleep would then improve, in a straight line.
As in, he’d just start sleeping more without waking and needing me.
And it really wasn’t like that at all.
And I felt so blindsided.
Seriously. How did I not know this was normal?

Read more about normal infant sleep

But the books didn’t help because they just made me think that he was broken and that it was my fault for how he slept because of the way I responded.
I held him too much.
I went to him too quickly.
I caved and gave him a breastfeed before he supposedly *needed* one.
Oh, and I hadn’t taught him how to self soothe and so of course he woke so much needing my help back to sleep.
Of course.

And because I didn’t realise it was normal for sleep to be more like a rollercoaster over those first monumental years of their life where they grow and learn at such pace, I tore myself in two trying to get it all *right*.
Because I’d be damned if I was going to fail my baby.

If you see yourself in this right now, or in your past, I’m sending you the warmest of love today.

It’s time we stop the gatekeeping that has been done for the last few generations and let people in on the secret ... babies are designed to wake frequently and need your help back to sleep through feeding or soothing for the first couple of years of life.

It’s normal.

And it’s oh, so hard.
But, despite the fear-mongering and the challenges of accepting this reality, you can rest assured that no harm will come to your baby by you responding just as they need, day and night.

The reason it all seems so hard comes down to the way society has been set up that shows little to no respect and value in the work required to nurture a young human in their first few years.
We get it.
We know that all that you face raising your baby can seem completely incompatible with every other demand in your life.
We see you.

But it is crucial that we understand that this doesn’t mean your baby is the problem.
A baby acting like a baby isn’t something that requires fixing.

What we strive to do here is to bring the real problems to light so we can slowly but surely bring about change to the way society and the structure and institutions that govern society value the nurturing work of families.
It is of immense value to the whole population that we support families to nurture their babies.

How can you help today?

Begin by developing your knowledge base of what’s going on developmentally for your babe and voice your awe and wonder at what they are doing in such a short space of time.

Learn more about development and sleep

When you talk of your child’s sleep, acknowledge their experience as well as yours to help keep their perspective in mind through your weariness.

If you are tired, and you are in the position to do so, ask for help/ respite/ outsource and take leave if it is available to you. The nighttime work that leaves you tired is no less valuable than a hard days work and you deserve opportunities to rest as a result.

And know, that while sleep training may be hailed as the answer to all of your tired prayers, the process is often heartbreaking and repeated many times over the child’s life because the *skills* they are meant to be *teaching* your child aren’t really skills at all.
True self-regulation comes through being co-regulated many, many times. There is no shortcut.

There is no easy way out of this challenging season in our lives and the sooner we accept that some of the most worthwhile, beautiful things in life don’t necessarily come easy, the more you can focus on getting your family the best quality sleep available to you all right now and then take sleep out of sharp focus.
Because there is so much more to your baby than how they sleep.

Need help finding ways to maximise your family's sleep?


text: with love, Carly image of a darkhaired fair skinned woman in a pink shirt sitting in the grass. Text: Little Sparklers founder