Sleep Like an Actual Baby

For years, I’ve thought the phrase “sleep like a baby” was some sort of mean euphemism. My two older boys still don’t sleep very well at 5 and 2 years old. The oldest one basically sleeps through the night now (unless he has a potty accident), but for about two years, he slept 90 minutes at a clip. On a good night. It was many months after his birth before I experienced any delta sleep.

The second one wasn’t much better. He’s still up at least twice each night and the big kids are up for the day at 5am.

Also, the car? Forget it. As infants they screamed and wailed from the moment they were buckled in their car seat until the minute we scooped them up. I had no idea why people bothered to lug around those bucket car seats, because I didn’t know babies actually fell asleep in them and could get carried, still asleep, into the house. Or music class, or wherever.

To be fair, my middle son eventually started to fall asleep in the car and transfer, still sleeping, to other places.

But this third baby? This third one? I now understand the phrase “sleeps like a baby.” I get it! Babies sleep a lot! I had no idea.

baby asleep

My youngest baby sleeps so much, we can balance him precariously on a bucket of photo props and he doesn’t even notice.

This third baby falls asleep all by himself sometimes if I set him down to use the microwave. He falls asleep in the car and stays that way, often for an hour after we arrive wherever we’re headed.

And at night? For three nights in a row, he’s slept from 9:30 until 4 or 4:30 without waking, which is up from consistently sleeping until 2. Then, he briefly nurses and goes back to sleep until I have to wake him to walk his oldest brother to the bus stop.

I keep calling my mother to discuss one sleep trick or another that my new baby has done. “Mom,” I keep saying, “He is asleep despite the older ones screaming directly into his ears! He’s just sleeping right through it!”

Or else, “Mom, he remained asleep even when the big kids filled his rock n play with ice cubes!”

This new baby, at 8 weeks, is shifting into recognizable patterns and taking distinct naps at predictable times. If he’s interrupted during one of these naps, he just sort of turns his head over and resumes sleeping when given the opportunity. He sleeps like a baby!

I have not parented this child one bit differently than the other kids, except perhaps I am slower to respond to him since I have two other kids with pressing needs. What I am learning is that first of all, those old biddies filled with sleep advice for parents are indeed full of baloney.

But mainly, each kid is different. Temperament is so important. What worked like a charm for some kids just won’t matter to other kids. I see with my third son I don’t need to march him up and down the stairs or dance him around the dining room table. He just needs some milk and a little gentle rocking and then ZZzzz.

Some people are just inclined to fall asleep easily and stay that way and some people are just wired differently. Thankfully, I have produced at least one of these tired babies so I can see with my own eyes how amazing it is.

I can’t help but think about how different my life would be if my other kids fell and stayed asleep as easily as this one. How much more alert and sharp-minded I’d be, for starters! But I’m also glad I didn’t start out with this easy sleeper and then get shocked by my other kids. At least by now, I’m used to the constant sleep deprivation that comes with parenting a pack of dairy farmers.

It strikes me as almost cruel that my youngest baby sleeps so well, that I have to wake him up to haul him to the bus stop, because I can’t really enjoy it–I’m still up throughout the night parenting my other boys. I have faith, though, that sometime very soon the big kids will begin to sleep better and longer, or at least need me less when they’re awake, and I can remain in my bed until I decide it’s time to wake up.

Did any of your kids “sleep like a baby?” Leave us a comment to share your experience.

2 comments to Sleep Like an Actual Baby

  • Becky

    Yeah… my daughter sleeps so well overnight – from about 9:30pm to 7am or later, so yay for a good stretch of sleep. (started at about 2.5 months). Sure she has woken up a few times, but it’s not even a weekly occurence.

    BUT she doesn’t nap very long at a time throughout the day. That’s probably going to come back to haunt me later. And since she’s our first and we plan on having more, it is going to be challenging if not everyone sleeps so well!

    I can’t confirm it, but I think the fact that she spent most of her first 48hrs in the NICU helped teach her to be able to sleep better. However, I ***really*** don’t suggest trying to do that for the sake of sleep later. It’s at least the consulation I have for being unable to manage breastfeeding or pumping exclusively. (supplementing + pumping now)

  • Katy Rank Lev

    Thanks for sharing your story, Becky! I ended up supplementing with my first and now, with my third, I have enough milk that I have spare to donate! Each baby is so different. You’re doing such a great thing for your baby with your pumping :)

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