Sleep in the Weeks and Months After Your Child is Born
April 2024, Children, Health Matters

Sleep in the Weeks and Months After Your Child is Born

By Amber Matusky

In the first weeks and months after a baby is born, sleep is elusive and fragmented at best. Newborns need to feed frequently and parents are on high alert, tending to their infant’s needs. Sleep is a basic human need, and long-term sleep deficiency can have a negative impact on parents’ mental health and babies’ development.

Sleep training is controversial, and is often thought of as a negative thing. Many people associate the term with the “cry it out” method, where a parent tucks their baby in for the night, closes the door, and does not return until the desired wake time in the morning, ignoring all of their baby’s cries during the night. This method is quite extreme and one that I do not advocate. 

However, it is also not sustainable for families to be up several times a night tending to their baby for months, or even years. And parents can inadvertently end up creating habits around sleep that are not sustainable over the long term. Common challenges parents face with their babies include frequent night-wakings, short naps, only sleeping when held, and long, drawn-out bedtime routines. 

Sometimes, parents have to return to work, have older children to care for, or feel their mental health or relationship is suffering. These are the reasons people hire a sleep consultant. 

As an experienced birth and postpartum doula, I enjoy presenting parents with many options as they navigate those early weeks and months, find their footing, and gain confidence in their new roles as parents. Getting enough sleep is a high priority, and a topic I spend a lot of time talking with clients about. That is why I expanded my education and became a certified pediatric sleep consultant. I can now support parents and lead the whole family back to nights of uninterrupted, rejuvenating sleep.

When I work with a family as a sleep consultant, I present clear and detailed guidelines for multiple options that teach independent sleep, as part of a customized sleep plan. 

A newborn will sleep anywhere from 16 to 20 hours in a 24-hour period. An adult’s sleep cycle consists of a total of five stages of sleep (drowsy, NREM1, NREM2, NREM3, and REM) and takes between 90 to 110 minutes. During a typical night, an adult will complete 4-5 sleep cycles. 

On the other hand, an infant’s sleep cycle only has two phases, active (REM) and quiet (NREM), and takes around 50 minutes. This difference in sleep rhythms, understandably, leads to new parents feeling more tired than they have, possibly in their whole life! The good news is that a baby’s sleep cycles mature relatively quickly, and by about four months of age, their sleep patterns resemble those of an adult. Many parents refer to this challenging period as the four-month sleep regression; however, this is where magic can happen when you are consistent, have information, a plan, and support!  

It is important that parents feel that any plan they undertake aligns with their parenting style, so that they can be completely committed to it and are able to execute it with confidence and consistency. I meet parents where they are, and during our two weeks together, offer unlimited support as sleep plans are implemented. 

Babies are adaptable and resilient. While guiding parents as they teach their child the skill of independent sleep, I have seen incredible results in a relatively short amount of time. The benefits of sleep training extend throughout the whole family and last a lifetime. 

In the 17 years I have been supporting parents through birth and their postpartum period, I have seen many beautiful ways to parent children. Though no one can be the perfect parent, there a million ways to be a great one. My wish is that families will feel supported during a challenging time of life as they navigate their unique path. 

Amber Matusky is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and DONA-certified postpartum and birth doula. If you are the parent of a young child who struggles with sleep, check out more details about Amber’s sleep consulting work at

April 8, 2024

About Author

amber Amber Matusky is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and DONA-certified postpartum and birth doula. Check out more details about Amber’s sleep consulting work at