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10 Baby Sleep Questions

Interested in more “how to” and “how not to” cry it out posts? Good because I’m working on them. I’m also working with some awesome local postpartum doulas on the ultimate “Newborn What is Normal” list. There are a ton of newborn baby questions coming up in email/comments that come up that are 100% normal. Thus parents are freaking out over things that they shouldn’t and I hope to help remedy that.

However none of these posts is ready because I’m too busy freaking out about the Tough Mudder which I’ll be doing this weekend. In fact here’s me with my Tough Mudder crew (I’m on the left in purple) doing some race training. Which mostly consisted of slogging up and down the mountain while wheezing, sweating, and questioning the wisdom of doing events such as these.

So in the interim I’ve pulled together a list of 10 baby sleep questions that have come up a lot in email/comments. If you have a medical or safety question I am happy to share my opinion, but I want to be very clear that in all cases my default answer is this:

[box type=”blank” class=”border-dashed2″]The Default Answer*
I am not a pediatrician so if something is worrying you ASK YOUR PEDIATRICIAN. If you don’t feel comfortable asking or don’t trust the answers your pediatrician is giving you GET A NEW PEDIATRICIAN.

10 Common Questions on Baby Sleep

[list type=”numlist”]

  1. I can’t tell if my baby is asleep!

    I’ve developed a highly effective technique to deduce if babies are sleeping. I look at them and I use this specialized method of determination. Eyes open = asleep. Eyes closed = asleep.

  2. Is the swing going to mess up my baby’s back or head?

    There is precious little research on baby swings (insert default answer here*). However I have not seen or read anything that suggests that modern swings (not some old bucket-like swing your mother-in-law got at a yard sale 10 years ago) cause any developmental problems or negatively impact the head/back.

  3. Weissbluth says that motion sleep is not as “restorative” as non-moving sleep. Thoughts?

    I love Weissbluth. I hate that he put this in his book. He asserts that because he sleeps poorly when in the car or on airplanes, thus babies sleep poorly when moving. I also don’t sleep well in the car. Nor can I sleep while swaddled or with a pacifier in my mouth. So I don’t believe the adult/baby sleep comparison is a particularly good one. There is no research to support the idea that babies sleep poorly when in motion. And anecdotal evidence from thousands of swing sleeping babies suggests they a) sleep great and b) are much happier and well-rested then they were previously.

  4. I’m afraid my newborn baby will get addicted to the bouncy seat with the vibrator.

    When you have a newborn you need to embrace what is working right now. Corollary: what works today will not work tomorrow.

  5. My 6 week old baby is still eating 3-4 times every night, when will this end?

    Newborns eat a lot at night. This is one of the many things that make parenting a newborn baby so challenging. You can’t “fix” a hungry newborn baby – you just feed them.

  6. I’ve been reading Babywise and I can’t seem to get the schedule worked out

    I’ve edited the remainder of the question. The answer is: stop reading Babywise.

  7. I read a study that white noise causes brain damage. Should I be worried?

    In 2003 there was a now-famous study where baby rats were effectively raised with deafening white-noise throughout their entire lives. These rats did not develop properly. If this concerns you (insert default answer here*). White noise is certainly something that would benefit from further study. However nobody is suggesting you raise your baby in a sound-deprivation chamber of deafening white noise. But there is ample evidence that mild (50 dB – the volume of a shower) white noise, especially when they are sleeping, has numerous benefits for babies.

  8. My baby makes a ton of noise when they sleep. Is something wrong?

    Babies are noisy sleepers. They grunt, clench their legs to their chest, fart, burp, etc. None of this indicates a “problem”. It’s also one of the many reasons white noise helps everybody sleep better. If you are waking up every time your baby grunts in their sleep you will never, ever sleep.

  9. What is a good sleep routine?

    It’s whatever you like that is a) calm b) quiet and c) you can live with doing it for the next 5 years. Ideally the nap routine is simply a shorter version of the bedtime routine. The “classic” bedtime routine is bath, books, boob, bed. If you’re trying to break the nursing to sleep habit, then you would restructure your routine to separate boob from bed (or bath, boob, books, bed.) Your short-version nap routine would be boob, books, bed. Feel free to add whatever fun soothing activities (massage, songs, kiss the dog, etc.) that you enjoy.

  10. When should we start using a sleep routine?

    Now. It won’t hurt you at any age and it may help you. For newborns your routine might be diaper change, nurse, sleep. But it’s still something you do consistently. You can add to it as your baby gets older.


Hope these help. More to come when my brain is back in the game 🙂