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Things I wish I knew about baby sleep the first time around!

By: Candice Aird | Published: May, 2023

First Time Mum

When I had my first daughter in 2018, I entered into motherhood the same way I know so many of you do.  Optimistic that my baby would be the expectation to the rule…about everything!

Now don’t get me wrong, I knew what I was in for.  I knew that babies sleep little, feed often, and poop a lot.  In all honesty, I couldn’t see what the issue with that would be.  Surely if you go into motherhood knowing what to expect, well then it’s got to be easier.

Ha, if only I could have had someone tell me honestly just how wrong I was.  Although that said, even if I could go back to tell myself how much I was underestimating the sleepless nights, monotony of repetition, and just sheer difficulty of the first few weeks, I’m not sure I would 

  1. actually believe me 
  2. that I would actually be as brutally honest as you’d need to be to get the message across. After all, I do know a lot of other mum’s, and none of them had ever told me straight, it’s like an unwritten rule of parenting, don’t crap on the newbies!

The sleep struggle was real

For me the difficulties started with breastfeeding.  It still blows my mind how hard that whole process is.  Considering it is a biological necessity to be able to survive, they have made it very difficult, not to mention putting two complete novices together to tackle it.  But breastfeeding aside, because that warrants its whole own piece, sleep was the thing that really threw me.


I guess first off I should admit that for me sleep has always been somewhat of a hobby, and to be blunt, I’m really f-ing good at it.  That, however, was not the case with my daughter.  Throughout my pregnancy I was warned by my husband’s family that he had been a terrible sleeper.  Waking in the night for hours at a time to play!  This filled me with fear, how would I cope with a child who didn’t sleep, when I need so much of it.  But even that did not prepare me for the sleepless nights that were to come, and the dreaded “witching hour” that we experienced every night from 7pm through to midnight when she would eventually settle.


For us the difficulties started from the outset.  She refused to sleep in a moses basket or the next to me crib.  She would only settle if she was on her stomach.  So as a first time mum, who’s being told by their midwife and health visitor that they must sleep on their back, and do not let them sleep on you, it left us with very few options.  I absolutely dreaded nighttimes, and would prop myself in a sitting position in bed with her on my chest, just so that we would get even a few hours of sleep.  

This is what most naps and bedtimes looked like – except I wasn’t always smiling about it. 

This cycle went on for weeks and weeks, and it felt like years.  Then when she was around 3 months old, the witching hour really started to kick in.  She would be inconsolable in the evenings, impossible to settle.  She seemed to be in discomfort and totally wired.  People would tell me, “don’t worry, she’ll sleep when she’s ready”, or “look how wide awake she is, you’ll never get her to sleep now”.  

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing wrong, but I just knew that things weren’t adding up, and that I could be doing more to improve them.  

I just wanted someone to tell me what her sleep schedule should be; when she should be sleeping, how long she should be sleeping for, and how to help her stay asleep.  But nobody had any answers for me. 

Looking back now I know that I just needed to make some simple adjustments to see big improvements.  

Here are the top 10 baby sleep things I wish I had known 

  1. If only someone had told me about wake windows.  And just how often newborns need to sleep.  Even a nappy change and being awake for 45 minutes in those early days/weeks can be enough to send your little one into sensory overload and needing rest. 
  2.  That sleeping on their tummy is a sign that they might have silent reflux.
  3. That co-sleeping can indeed be done safely, and that it is very normal for your baby to only want to sleep on you for those first few weeks.  Not to mention that it doesn’t mean that they will still be sleeping in your bed when they are 10.  All they have ever known is closeness to you, and it takes them time to get used to being apart, even if just for a nap in a moses basket.
  4. When co-sleeping always make sure you’re following the safe sleep recommendations.  The Lullaby Trust do a great job of setting these out.
  5. I wish someone had told me that you can not “create a rod for your own back” by holding them lots, that how they fall asleep in those early weeks does not determine what kind of sleeper they will be later down the road.
  6. That the environment within which they sleep is important, and that they are not afraid of darkness.  In fact they find it soothing and calming.
  7. That white noise will help them to settle, and that you can use it as a sound barrier, so to place it between the cot and a source of noise such as a barking dog or a noisy road.
  8. That a baby’s circadian rhythm does not establish itself until they are closer to 4 months, and so sleep will be unorganised until then.
  9. That bedtime up until around 4 months will actually sit between 9 and 10 pm, so that you can fit in all of the naps that they need.
  10. That some of the signs that your little one is tired are not that easy to spot and can be mistaken for other things.  Such as redness around their eyebrows, getting chatty and over active, zoning out and avoiding eye contact, rubbing their ears, being extra cuddly.
  11.  BONUS: That it is OK to ask for help.  In fact, if sleep is causing you distress, if you feel like no one is rested in the house, then seeking help does not mean you’ve failed at motherhood.  It means that you’re doing the best you can to make improvements for everyone’s sake.

Sleep Training Changed Everything

When my daughter was 13 weeks old a girlfriend shared a sleep guide with me.  Finally everything started to make sense.  I put in place the steps that they advised and from the very first nap things started to improve.  Within a few days she was sleeping in her next-to-me crib without any issues.  

Finally she would sleep somewhere other than on me!

Things went from strength to strength and she has been a brilliant sleeper ever since.  Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that there have been ups and downs.  But, with the foundations set, I knew that I could just revisit the guide, tweak whatever it was that needed tweaking and get things back on track.


Sleep training my daughter changed everything.  It improved my experience as a mum ten fold.  I went from dreading naps and bedtime, to being confident that they would not be an issue and being able to use the time when she was sleeping to recharge my batteries and spend time with my husband.    


I’m passionate about giving this opportunity to everyone.  Being a mum doesn’t need to mean that you’re so tired that you’re on your knees.  Babies can be good sleepers, they just need to be shown how, and have everything in place to make it easy for them.



Download my FREE Sleep Needs Guide to have a better understanding of how often, and when your little one should be sleeping from age 0-6 years.  

While I may have nailed their sleep, I’m yet to get a photo of us all looking the same way!  Any tips on that greatly appreciated – Candice x


Candice is a mum of two who is passionate about supporting families to get the sleep that they need.  She is a certified infant sleep consultant offering personalised 1:1 sleep packages.  Her packages are responsive, supporting and get you the results you want.  


If you want to find out more, book a FREE strategy call to have an informal chat about the challenges you’re facing.  

Follow me on socials for tips 

Instagram: @slumber_tools

Facebook: @SlumberTools



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