This episode is such a long time coming, one that’s inevitable for The Resting in Motherhood Podcast – my sleep journey with my daughter, Lilah. Our story is one that not only put me on my current career path as a Certified Infant Sleep Specialist, but the thing that has helped me to connect with so many moms along the way. As you’ll hear, the first year of Lilah’s life was filled with so many ups and down when it came to sleep. I felt such a wide range of emotions from shame to confidence, from exhausted to feeling like I was doing it all right. Tune in to hear what I wish I would have known from the start, what worked and what didn’t, and steps you can take as you prepare for your little one’s arrival or if you’re searching for a new way to do sleep in your home.
- How trusting in where she’s at is what’s currently giving Brittni rest in motherhood and putting her in a posture of gratitude
- Brittni’s thoughts on eat, play, sleep and how she clung to this in early motherhood and how the plans we have for motherhood don’t usually work out
- The first challenges that Brittni had with Lilah when the four month sleep regression hit and how this sent her into an anxiety spiral
- Brittni’s introduction to safe bedsharing and why she wishes she would have done it sooner
- How the sleep industry prays on the fact that our logic goes out the window when we are exhausted
- Breaking down the myth of creating “bad sleep habits” and what Brittni found worked for her and her daughter
- How Brittni’s experience with her daughter led her to become a Certified Infant Sleep Specialist
- Why Brittni held off on night weaning for so long, even after helping countless families through it, and how she overcame the obstacles of it
- Safe Bedsharing
- Resting in the First Year Course
- Feel like it might be time to make a transition in sleep? Take my free quiz to find out!
Read a raw, unedited transcript of this episode.
Hello, welcome mama. I hope you’re having a wonderful day, wherever you are, whatever time it is. I hope that if you had a hard night last night, you’re finding rest today and just finding grace for yourself and for your little one. As I sat down today to chat with you, I was thinking about how I’m currently finding rest in motherhood.
And for me this week, how I’m finding rest in motherhood is truly just trusting in where we’re at, where I’m at with Lila, where we’re at in life. I’ve found that in the last few weeks, I have gotten really stressed about things not going the way that I want them to, life not being where I expected it to be. And it’s led me to this place where I’m feeling really ungrateful.
for everything that I do have, I’m feeling really impatient for or around everything that’s going on in our lives, especially with Laila, I’m finding that I’m being really impatient. And I just kind of had this moment of realization the other day that I’m not trusting.
I’m not trusting in where Lila’s at in her development. I’m not trusting where I’m at in my motherhood journey. And I really need to just let go of this desire for things to be perfect and exactly the way that I’m expecting them to be. And instead just trust. Trust that we’re where we’re meant to be. Trust that Lila’s exactly where she’s meant to be. And…
It’s only been a few days since I’ve had this realization, but I will tell you, I’m already sensing such a sense of peace within myself. I’m finding more patience, and I’m finding myself really trying to revel in the little moments with Lila and enjoy those moments, because when we’re feeling impatient, when we’re feeling ungrateful, or we’re feeling like things aren’t the way that they’re supposed to be, we tend to lose sight of the present moment. So.
I am finding rest in motherhood this week by just trusting in the process, in the process of motherhood, in the process of Lila growing up and all of it. And that leads me kind of perfectly into what we’re going to be chatting about today, which, gosh, this is a long time coming. I’ve shared little bits and pieces of it on Instagram, but it’s such a long story that it deserved its own podcast episode. So here we are.
Today we’re going to be chatting about Lila’s sleep journey. When I’m laughing because it’s been such a journey, obviously it’s why I’m here doing what I do. Baby sleep has now become my passion, my source of income, but it’s also one of the hardest things I’ve navigated personally. So I guess I’ll just start right at the beginning. When I was pregnant, I received a book
called Baby Wise as a gift. I’m a type A person, so having a plan to follow really made me feel better. The book made it seem so simple. Keep your baby on a schedule, don’t feed them to sleep, and allow time for them to play before they sleep. So essentially, eat, play, sleep is the premise of the book. And it really gives me a chuckle now that I thought it would just be that simple, and I just thought.
that it would work. I think it’s even referred to as like the simple method or something like that, which again, I’m laughing because now I know all that I know about baby sleep. I know that it’s not that simple. I know that that’s not even a biological norm. But while I knew I would never be comfortable doing cry it out, I proudly told people that I would be sleep training by following this baby wise method.
That makes me laugh too because I like cringe thinking about it. But don’t we all, right? Like we have all of these plans when we’re going into motherhood and then motherhood starts and everything changes. We become a totally different version. We’re doing different things than we were planning on doing. And it just really makes me laugh. Then though, Lila came and quickly gave me a wake up call.
I was trying not to nurse her to sleep and it was creating so much anxiety and it just simply wasn’t working. Little did I know then that nursing to sleep is a biological norm and that breast milk contains sleep inducing hormones. Nursing to sleep is truly nature’s way of getting babies to sleep. So trying to keep her from falling asleep while nursing wasn’t working because it wasn’t supposed to.
On top of this, I was obsessed with trying to get her to sleep off of me, but she would wake up every time I tried to transfer her.
I had and still have just to look back on and see how far I’ve come in this journey. But I had a book where I logged every feed and every nap. I was consumed with her sleep. And if you’re silently shaking your head, yes, you get it. And I felt like I was failing. I would get on social media and be met with things telling me to put her down, drowsy, but awake.
and that nursing to sleep was a bad habit and that naps needed to be a certain length of time to be restorative. On top of all of this, I was struggling to get her in the bassinet at night because I was terrified of bed sharing.
I continued to be extremely stressed out about sleep, but then something amazing happened around the eight week mark. She started sleeping through the night and I really couldn’t believe it. I thought the worst was behind us and was so excited about nighttime sleep. I did continue to stress about daytime sleep and length of naps and trying to get that independent nap and making sure I wasn’t nursing to sleep. I wasn’t an anxious spiral.
But I was so happy about this nighttime sleep, right? Like I was bragging to everyone like, oh, she’s sleeping through the night. She’s such a great sleeper. And then the four month mark hit and my child who had been sleeping through the night for about two months was now waking every 30 minutes to an hour all night long. So as you can imagine.
As you can imagine, this sent me into an anxiety spiral. I felt like I was failing. I felt like I was creating bad habits. I just didn’t know what to do. And then one night during a late night feed, I was scrolling through Instagram and I found a post on safe bed sharing. Bed sharing had been brought up to me a lot by my now ex-husband and his mother when she came to visit.
He’s from Chile where bed sharing is very normal, but I had it stuck in my head. I truly had it stuck in my head that Lila would die if I bedshared. And I vividly remember when his mom came for her birth and saw that I had a bedside bassinet. She was like, she’s not sleeping in bed with you? And I was like, no, she’s gonna be sleeping next to us. And she was like, oh my gosh, I’m so worried about her sleeping all by herself. And in my head, I was like.
she’s gonna be right next to me. Like that’s, and I even told Bruno, I said, that’s the safest place for her to be. And I’m laughing because, while there were lots of things I didn’t agree with her on, my mother, my ex-mother-in-law, that is something that I’m like, I wish I would have listened. I wish I would have tuned into that. But, finally, I found this post on safe bed sharing at around the four month mark.
and it was talking about how to do it safely. And this opened up a whole new world to me, a world in which I felt like I wasn’t a failure, a world in which everything that actually felt normal was deemed okay, a world in which I felt like now I had an option because I was up all night long trying to get my baby into the bassinet only to turn around and have her wake up 30 minutes later.
and start the process all over again. And one thing that’s kind of just popped into my head as I’m talking to you is the fact that I was so worried about nursing to sleep during the day, yet I was nursing back to sleep at night. And it’s so funny because when you’re doing it, you don’t even connect the dots. But now looking back, I’m like, Brittany, you were nursing to sleep at night. Like, why were you so worried about it during the day?
And I know it’s because the sleep training industry has such a strong hold on us. It does such a good job of instilling that fear and making us feel like if we do something, then sleep is never gonna happen. And it honestly, when we’re so in the depths of the beginning of motherhood, we’re tired, we just wanna be a good mom, we kind of lose sight of…
having logic or we lose that logic piece, right? Like, and I’m not being mean, I lost the logic too, but when we’re so afraid, when we’re so tired, logic kind of goes out the window. And that’s what the sleep training industry preys on. It wants us to be afraid. It wants us to make us feel like our only option is to cry it out. It wants us to feel like we have to follow all of these specific rules, but it’s totally ignoring.
all of our human history and our human biology, which again, I didn’t know this at the time, but I digress. We started bed sharing and unfortunately her wakeups didn’t decrease as much. I didn’t know then, but she had underlying issues going on that I didn’t know about and I actually didn’t know about them until I started my sleep certification when she was about 13 months old, but I felt more rested.
I wasn’t fighting to get her back into the bassinet all night. I was able to easily nurse her and get some more sleep. Naps continued to stress me out, unfortunately, and I still kept trying for those independent naps. But little by little, I started realizing that contact sleep worked for us, and I didn’t need to change it because some external, quote, authority said it was a bad habit. How was someone who didn’t live in my home?
or know my values going to tell me what a bad habit was for my family. And that was a profound realization for me. And I think that that’s a profound realization that we all should be given the gift of in motherhood because I talk to so many moms, whether they be clients of mine or just moms that I’m chatting with on Instagram. And the proverbial bad habit is something that we’re all worried about.
But we really need to stop and think about that. If something is working for us, how could it be a bad habit? It’s a pattern that’s serving us in this moment. And if or when there comes a time where it’s no longer working for us, then it’s still not a bad habit. It’s just simply a pattern that we’re going to need to shift. And we can absolutely do it in a loving and gentle way. So I let go of this pressure of needing to get the independent nap.
So contact napping became the norm. I was still so stressed about wake windows though and nap lengths. I remember locking myself and Lila in the bathroom, the darkest room I could find in the house, and trying to force her back to sleep. I remember rage bouncing her in my arms, and I look back on those moments and I feel sadness and shame and regret.
Sadness that instead of soaking up the beautiful moments of supporting her to sleep, I was angry because she wasn’t falling asleep within the quote right wake window. Shame for letting external factors steal so much joy from my first year of motherhood. And also I remember that rage bouncing because I was still afraid of nursing her to sleep.
I had embraced the bed sharing, I had embraced the contact napping, but I was still afraid of nursing to sleep. I couldn’t let it go. That fear had dug in so tight and sunk its nails into me that I was afraid of nursing to sleep. So I was sitting in this dark room, fighting biology, fighting her unique sleep needs, trying to force her to sleep, like I said, rage bouncing and getting so angry. And all I did was I made sleep.
a space that we were both not comfortable with. I dreaded going into nap time because I wondered how long it was gonna take. I wondered how much of a fight it was gonna be. And I know she dreaded nap time because babies feel our emotions. They are connected to our brain. It’s called the interbrain. Their brain truly connects to our brain. And so if they’re sensing that stress, every time we go in to put them to sleep, they’re not gonna wanna sleep. They’re gonna say,
Oh my gosh, mom feels really stressed about this. This is not a safe place. I need to stay up because this is not safe. So then all we’re actually doing is we’re getting stressed about sleep because we want them to sleep. They’re feeling that stress, so they’re not sleeping. And then it creates this vicious cycle. And that’s where I was. But little by little, I started learning and studying more about biologically normal infant sleep.
By 12 months, she was still waking anywhere from every one to three hours, but bed sharing was our saving grace. I was starting to feel really confident about how I was parenting her. I wasn’t ashamed of bed sharing. I loved our contact naps. And I wasn’t embarrassed that she wasn’t sleeping through the night. I had found this unwavering confidence in what we were doing, and it was so liberating. And somewhere along the line, I also…
embraced nursing to sleep. I can’t remember at what exact point it was. I wanna say probably around the nine month mark, I was like fed up with sitting in this dark bathroom trying to bounce her to sleep. And I was like, we’re just gonna go lay on the bed and nurse. And she fell asleep so quickly. Naps stopped becoming such a fight and a point of stress for me.
And now I regret so much. I wasted, like I said, I think it was the nine month mark, but I wasted what, nine months of her life trying to fight biology and get her to sleep in a way that just wasn’t working. And then around her 13, 14 month mark, I decided to become a certified infant sleep specialist. The certification changed my life and brought me here to you. And while I had the confidence behind doing what worked for us,
I now also had the science and education to back it up. Once I completed my certification, I realized that Laila had a tongue tie, which was why she had been waking so frequently, even with bed sharing. I also look back and I remember one specific time I was out of the house and my mom had been watching Laila and had given her a bottle and she choked on the milk and my mom was freaking out.
And I, at the time I was like, how could she choke on milk from a bottle mom? But there were little signs like that all throughout her infancy, throughout her first year, that were really a tongue tie that I didn’t know about.
Um, and unfortunately I.
And unfortunately, I found the tongue tie later than the ideal time. So now we are waiting to address it. She’ll be starting my functional therapy this year. That’s a, we could do a whole nother podcast episode just on tongue ties. Um, but little by little, her stretches of sleep went from waking every one to three hours to regularly waking every three hours by about the 18 month mark.
I continued to nurse on demand at night and during the day. And I’d be lying if I said that I was happy about the three-hourly waking while I knew it was normal, especially after doing my certification. It still felt incredibly difficult. And it also felt like something I was going to be stuck with the rest of my life, which sounds silly now, but if you’re in the depths of sleep deprivation, if you’re in the depths of waking up frequently with your baby,
I know you know that our minds can take us to those places. That the place of losing that trust, of losing that hope and feeling like this is my life forever. Oh my, like we go so deep and so dark.
but I just wanna remind you, as we will see as I continue on telling our sleep journey, it doesn’t last forever. I remember some nights if she was waking more frequently, I would get so frustrated and I would yell at her, something like, please just sleep. And then I’d wake up feeling so much guilt about getting so angry. And what I want you to know here is, I’m sure we’ve all lost our shit at some point in the middle of the night.
We’ve all felt like where we are at with sleep is our destiny forever.
We’ve all felt like where we are at with sleep is our destiny forever, and we can let it take us really, really low. I’ve been there, I just talked about it. And even after getting my sleep certification, those feelings would creep in. And I think there’s a lot of reasons for this, such as unrealistic expectations given to us by society, which often makes us feel alone and like we truly are failing.
and a lack of support both in education and what’s normal, and physical support in our lives with all of the things we need to do without the time to do them.
At around the two year mark, she had stretched to about four hours stretches and I was still nursing on demand throughout the night. This felt manageable and sustainable for me at this point, but when my marriage ended, when Lila was about two and a half years old, it quickly became apparent to me that nursing on demand at night was just not sustainable. I was nursing at night and then waking up to solo parent all day and it just felt like way too much.
Going back to the yelling, I remember being so frustrated in the middle of the night during that time, yelling so much, losing my temper, and I would wake up and just know, like, this is not the mom I wanna be. But still having guilt around the fact that night weaning, I felt guilty about night weaning, but I knew I had to start.
A month into the process, we got COVID, which set us back at square one. But once we were better, I started the process again. And something that’s funny is I have helped so many families night wean. And even at that point, I had helped a lot of families night wean. And I think I held off on night weaning for so long because I knew what a challenge it was gonna be. And for that guilt, I mean, if you’ve breastfed, you know that guilt that you can feel.
when it’s time to wean or start slowly weaning. And that held me back. But I knew, I just knew, I can’t be the mom that I am while I’m waking up to nurse at night anymore. It’s something needs to change. Lila deserves a mom who’s waking up not angry every single morning. So it took us about three months to fully wean all of our night feeds. And then the unbelievable happened.
She started sleeping through the night and I truly couldn’t believe it. I want to stop here and say that Not all children will sleep through the night when they’re night-weaned I want to make that very clear because I don’t want you to be like, oh my gosh That’s the secret to my child sleeping through the night Some children will start sleeping through the night when they’re night-weaned other children will not start sleeping through the night when they’re night-weaned So it really is unique
And if you’re contemplating night weaning, I really recommend tuning into yourself, tuning into how you’re waking up in the morning. Does what you’re currently doing feel sustainable? If it doesn’t feel sustainable, then that’s probably a sign that you do need to make some changes. But the other thing is that you can make nighttime nursing your own. You don’t have to fully night wean if that doesn’t feel like something you wanna do, if you’re currently nursing every two hours.
Maybe you go to nursing every three hours and let me put here that I’m only talking about children 12 months and older. If you have a little one under 12 months, I recommend continuing to feed on demand. But if you have a toddler, you can start making nighttime weaning or nighttime breastfeeding your own journey and doing what feels best for you. I stop sometimes just in the middle of living my life.
And I think back to those really hard nights in the beginning in the first year of life. And even in the second year of life, when I was waking up feeling so angry, feeling like this was my life, feeling like I was a failure. And that person, that mom seems so far away because now Lila sleeps through the night regularly. And it feels like a different life.
And I’m proud of myself for getting through it. And I’m proud of myself for trusting in Lila and knowing that our journey would end up with her sleeping through the night in her own timing. So if you’re in the depths, I just want to tell you that one day I promise you, I can’t tell you when it will be, you will get to the other side and you will look back and you will be so proud of yourself. You won’t believe.
all of the things that you went through, and it will feel like a distant memory. And I will also say that Lila sleeps through the night regularly, but I mean, she’s a human, I’m a human, I wake up at night, sometimes two times a night to go to the bathroom, I wake up at night for a sip of water. And so Lila will still wake up at night, we still bed share, it’s something that I plan on doing for the foreseeable future until…
Either I decide it’s no longer working or feeling sustainable, or she tells me she would like to sleep in her own bed. I’m just kind of going at our own pace there. But she’ll still wake up at night and snuggle into me. She never really wakes up to ask for anything or to go to the bathroom. She’s never woken up, actually, to go to the bathroom. But I think we need to understand that. That.
this ideal of sleeping through the night every single night is just unrealistic, even with older children, older toddlers. They’ll wake up, they’ll have a need, they might need to cuddle with us, they might have a bad dream, and that’s all normal. So I think just as I wrap up our sleep journey, there was so much stress in the beginning, which is what led me to becoming a certified infant sleep specialist, to starting my business,
I know how low I got and my hope is that you don’t have to get that low. My hope is that I can reach moms early on and help them find the peace that I was able to find later on in our journey and just the confidence in doing what works for you. And I will also say that if something is feeling unsustainable for you, if your baby is waking hourly, that should definitely not be the norm.
If you’re just feeling like you need to find a medium ground of meeting your child where they’re at, trusting where they’re at, while also still trying to maximize sleep in your home, you can do that. It’s why I’m here, it’s why I started my business. I don’t want you to suffer through. While waking every two to three hours is the biological norm. If there’s anything that’s feeling unsustainable, be it hourly waking, split nights.
early rising, feeling like you’re fighting your little one to sleep all the time, being ready to transition out of bed sharing, being ready to start those independent naps. Those are all things that can be done while still responding to your child and trusting in their process, which again, which is where I come in. So below the podcast, I will drop my resting in the first year course. So you can check that out if you have a baby from zero to 12
but I’ll also link my individual workshops and guides, which cover transitioning out of bed sharing, night weaning, my independent naps workshop. And my parting message to you would just be, wherever you’re at in your sleep journey, I’m sending you love. I really want you to know and trust that this will not be forever. Your little one will sleep through the night when they’re ready. It’s not something that you have to force them into.
And I just wanna send you so much love if you’re in a really hard season. I see you, solidarity, and I promise it won’t be forever. Have a wonderful day, mama.