Navigating life as a new parent brings on many challenges. As you are figuring out life with your new bundle of joy, things that were not on your radar have now become part of your daily source of anxiety: Keeping your baby fed, clean, and happy. Continuing to be a present partner. Handling house chores. Making sure you and your baby get enough to eat and sleep. Anxiety around their baby’s sleep can quickly become the biggest source of anxiety for new parents. Sleep perfectionism is not the same as simply wanting your baby to sleep well, and I’m here to tell you all about it.
What is Sleep Perfectionism?
Sleep Perfectionism is measuring your self-worth and your performance as a parent based on how well your baby sleeps. You are at risk if you have suffered birth trauma, been diagnosed with Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety, have a family history of anxiety or depression, or have a type A personality. Sleep Perfectionism can exacerbate or trigger PPD.
What are the signs of Sleep Perfectionism?
- Obsessively tracking your child’s sleep and researching online.
- You’re extremely meticulous about your child’s sleep routines, down to little details, like the way your baby has to be placed in the crib, and you get anxious if not done properly.
- You feel embarrassed when asked how your baby is sleeping.
- You don’t allow anyone else but you to lay down the baby,
- You get anxiety in anticipation of your child’s bedtime.
What can you do to alleviate Sleep Perfectionism?
- Stop obsessing over your baby’s monitor, and do not use monitors that track your baby’s vital signs. This type of monitor gives false alarms constantly and will result in less sleep and more anxiety.
- Ask for help loud and clear, and get your family and partners involved. Voicing your needs does not make you a bad parent.
- Hire an expert. A reliable Sleep Consultant will help you solve your child’s sleep disturbances so you can stop worrying about it. They will provide you with the education that you need to set realistic expectations, and will put together a sleep plan without imposing strict schedules and with no baby-nap-jail time.
- Don’t use sleep tracking apps unless you’re actively sleep training.
- Remind yourself that your child is not a robot.
- Practice telling yourself this positive affirmation: “I’ve done everything I could possibly do because I am a good parent: I did all the research, hired an expert, asked for help, and read the articles. It is what it is.”
- Practicing meditation and going to therapy can go a long way!
In the midst of the whirlwind that is parenthood, remember that you are not alone in facing these challenges. Embracing the journey with all its ups and downs is part of the process, and it’s essential to let go of the notion of perfectionism, especially when it comes to your baby’s sleep. Your self-worth as a parent is not solely determined by how well your baby sleeps through the night. By recognizing the signs of sleep perfectionism and taking proactive steps to alleviate it, you’re taking significant steps toward a healthier mindset. Embrace the support around you, from family to experts, and allow yourself to breathe. Your baby is not a reflection of your ability to parent, but rather a wonderful journey of growth and discovery for both of you. Embrace the imperfections, celebrate the small victories, and nurture the bond that makes parenthood truly remarkable.
Maria is the founder of Philly based and three-time award-winning sleep consulting agency Not A Peep! They offer virtual services globally and nationwide, and in-home services in the Philadelphia metro area and Tulsa regions. She has been featured on several local and national media outlets.
Founded with the mission to restore families’ life balance, Not A Peep is dedicated to empowering parents with the knowledge and tools that they need to claim their sleep back by teaching their little ones healthy sleep habits.
Through Not A Peep, Maria has helped more than 900 families. She’s a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, and a Happiest Baby on the Block educator. She holds a B.A in psychology from Georgia State University, and is a former board member of Sleep Sense, member of IPSA, and a member of the APSC. She currently lives in Philadelphia with her loving husband and three young daughters.