My baby is waking so many times each night and I am exhausted. I have tried everything to get her sleeping longer but nothing works. What can I do to survive? Is this even normal?

The first thing that needs to be done here, is determining if the baby’s waking is normal, or a sign of health issues.

If it’s health issues, treat the cause, not the symptoms (e.g. eczema is a symptom, usually of allergies. reflux is a symptom, again often of allergies as well as other health issues) and the sleep will improve.

What is Normal Infant Sleep? (Part I)

When Your Infant’s Sleep Isn’t Normal

Brief Infant Toddler Sleep Screening

If you’re still here, you’ve ruled out health issues.

That means we’re left with a cultural issue. Two ways that our society really lets new parents down are: skewed expectations and lack of support.

We are taught that babies sleep. So when the reality of baby sleep (aka, they don’t) hits, it hits us hard and out of the blue. We assume the problem is with our baby. It’s not. It’s with our expectations and our lack of support.

If we had adequate support, the mismatch between expectations and reality wouldn’t hit us so hard leaving a trail of desperate sleep deprived parents in its wake. But that support is not built in to our culture. So we need to build it.

When you feel like you’ve tried everything to fix your baby’s sleep, and nothing is working. Stop. Take a big breath, acknowledge your frustration and any other feelings, and then, completely discard any thinking that focuses on your baby.

Imagine for a minute that this reality - how your baby is right now, is forever, and is unchangeable. Nothing you do will work to change your baby, to make them sleep better or longer. What are YOU going to do to make sure you can cope? And not just cope, but can thrive.

That’s where your focus needs to be.

Get yourself support, however you can. Actual support: like meals delivered, someone to clean, a mother’s helper, respite, do whatever you can to make these things a reality. Then look after yourself.
Make sure you are healthy. Eat as well as you possibly can, drink plenty of water, lay off the stimulants (coffee) and really address your self care and sleep hygiene.

Are you going to bed at 7:30 and sleeping then during the biggest chunk of sleep your baby has, or are you staying up till 10 which is when they start waking hourly? Sure you want to spend time with your partner, but that CAN be done at another time. It just takes creativity, and thinking outside of our culturally prescribed boxes. Have trouble napping during the day? Use guided meditations or hypnosis tracks and teach yourself.

If you don’t want to sleep train your baby but you are past the point of tired

Coping with Sleep Deprivation

12 Signs Your Baby is High Need

Too Tired To Be A Good Mama? 7 Good Sleep Habits To Improve Your Parenting

Extreme Night Waking- tips for living, loving & surviving the ultimate Sleep Thief

Parents Need More Rest, but Sleep Training Isn’t the Answer

Self Care and Motherhood

Is My Baby Sleeping Enough?