Who should I listen to about my baby’s sleep?
It’s so tough to sift through the many opinions and pieces of advice about baby sleep—especially if you add in all the information that parents get through social media, parenting websites, and other online platforms. Many families aren’t even asking for advice and get baby sleep opinions anyway. As a baby sleep provider, parents often talk to me about what they think they “should” be doing and ask me what advice is best for their child. My main piece of advice for families is: YOU are the expert on your child. The most important person to listen to is you. You know your child and yourself best, and likely have your own opinions and gut feelings about your baby’s sleep (and everything else about your baby)! The other people in your life, including friends, family members, and your child’s medical team, can collaborate with you to identify the best ways to help you reach your goals for healthy baby sleep.
If you’re hearing opinions that differ from your own and start to make you feel ashamed, guilty, or worried, pay attention to those feelings and step back to take time to listen to YOUR opinion. For example, you might be looking for advice to help your baby sleep through the night without signaling you or your partner for an overnight feeding. If the options you’re hearing don’t fit well for you and your baby, take some time to think about what may work for you—this can also include revisiting this issue when your baby is a little older.
In addition, sometimes families and providers misunderstand each other because they come from different backgrounds (such as race, ethnicity, culture, education, religion). So, if you’re having trouble connecting with your provider when talking about your baby’s sleep or don’t feel comfortable talking about a specific issue, it is OK to switch providers and try working with someone else. Even when there is a safety concern—such as risk of Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS/SIDS) when families are co-sleeping with very young babies—providers should be able to communicate with families in a way that is respectful, and to collaborate with families to find the best solution for their baby’s safety, sleep, and wellbeing.