Episode Summary:

Welcome back to Resting in Motherhood, how are you finding rest this week mama? Head over to Instagram and send me a message to let me know. I’m really excited to dive into what I want to talk to you about today, which is the fact that we cannot control sleep for our little ones. Let me say it again: you cannot control your baby’s sleep. This is something that I think a lot of us struggle with, and having gone through it myself and looking back, my hypothesis or my theory is that the reason we struggle so much with infant sleep is because it is out of our control, yet we feel like it’s something that we should be able to control. We feel like this because the sleep training industry has given us this totally skewed perception that we can control nap lengths, that we can control exactly when our baby is going to sleep and we can make them sleep through the night. This false idea that we can control our baby’s sleep, leads to so much doubt, shame and overwhelm in parenthood. So I want to use these next 30 minutes to share some solutions that will help you recognize what you can control to maximize sleep and stress for you and your baby!


  • The reminder that sleep is not a conscious choice, therefore it is not something that we can control when it comes to our baby (our ourselves!)
  • The arbitrary numbers and other ideas that come from the sleep industry and how they lead to a desire for control 
  • How to trust that your baby will fall asleep when they need to and a few of the things that we can control our baby’s sleep 
  • The importance of learning what your baby needs from sleep in order to set realistic expectations 
  • Knowing what is biologically normal for sleep while also finding a sustainable sleep routine for you and your child 
  • Being intentional about who you discuss baby/toddler sleep with to avoid negative feelings and cultivating a safe space for yourself on social media and beyond 
  • Defining healthy sleep hygiene and how to create this for your baby to create easier sleep 
  • Creating a bedtime routine and sleep set up to maximize sleep for your whole family, allowing yourself to focus on your sleep too


Read a raw, unedited transcript of this episode.

Brittni (00:00.595)

Welcome back to the Resting in Motherhood podcast. I’m so excited to sit down and chat with you today. And as always, I will start off our conversation sharing how I am finding rest and motherhood this week. And as I was sitting down, I asked myself, how am I finding rest and motherhood this week? And my immediate answer was, this is not a week of…

week of rest for me. But then I said, I actually did, I went to the infrared sauna last night, so I did get a moment, more than a moment, 30 minutes of just intentional quiet meditation time while I was in the sauna. But apart from that, I had a very sick little one all last week, which totally threw off my plans for getting work done.

and I knew that I just needed to really surrender to the moment that we were in. Lila really needed me and so a lot of our time was just spent sitting on the couch but I couldn’t even really like work while we were on the couch because she just wanted me to snuggle her and hold her and so I really had to battle last week with knowing that I had a lot of stuff to get done and currently…

in the middle of getting everything ready for my toddler course launch, which will be happening in April. And so I just had this ongoing, this running to do list going through my head. And finally, I just like stopped myself and I said, Brittany, this is obviously an invitation to slow down and rest. And you can put the to do list off for next week.

So here we are in the new week, Laila is better and I kind of hit the ground running, making up for everything that I wasn’t able to get done last week. So when I sat down and asked myself, how am I finding rest? I was like, well, I feel like I’m not really finding rest this week because I am trying to catch up on everything that I kind of put on hold last week so that I could really just be present and still with Laila. And I will tell you that as I reflect back on that,

Brittni (02:11.155)

I know that I needed that stillness too. I needed to simply just be and put everything on the to -do list on hold. And guess what? I’m here and I’m working through that to -do list and everything that felt so urgent. I’m realizing I really could, I was able to put it on hold and the world didn’t end. So I think my form of rest this week is the fact that I really slowed down last week and then learning this week that…

It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay for the timeline not to be what I have expected in my head that everything will get done. So just kind of leaning into the process of trusting and knowing when to slow down and then when to pick things up again. So as always, I hope this makes you take a second to kind of reflect on, am I taking care of myself this week? How am I finding rest in motherhood? And maybe if this is your first time listening to the podcast,

I, when I share how I’m finding rest in motherhood, sometimes it’s figurative, sometimes it’s literal. So sometimes it’s like going to bed early. Sometimes it’s being nicer to myself, right? Any way that we can find rest in our role as motherhood, whether that be rest for our actual body or rest for our mind, rest for our heart, right? Giving ourself joy. So.

I’m going to ask you, I wish I could hear your response, but if you want to DM me on Instagram your response, I would love that. How are you currently finding rest in motherhood this week?

I am really… this is…

Brittni (03:56.723)

I’m really excited to dive into what I wanna talk to you about today, which is the fact that we can’t control sleep for our little ones. And this is something that I think a lot of us struggle with and having gone through it myself and looking back, my…

hypothesis or my theory is that the reason we struggle so much with sleep, I mean, gosh, this is multifaceted, but one of the biggest reasons that we struggle with infant sleep is it’s out of our control. But we feel like it’s something that we can control. And we feel like we can control it because the sleep training industry has given us this totally skewed perception.

that we can control nap lengths. We can control exactly when our baby is going to sleep. We can make them sleep through the night. And so it’s this false reality. It’s not a reality. What’s the word I’m looking for? It’s this false idea that we can control our baby’s sleep, but it’s completely false. We cannot control our baby’s sleep.

Sleep is not within our conscious ability, meaning that it’s not something that we can control. If somebody walked up to you right now and they were like, you need to go lay on the bed right now and you need to go to sleep, would you be able to? If you were up all night with your baby last night, if it was a really hard night, maybe, if you’re listening to this and it’s like you’re right before bed, maybe you could, right? But that pressure of like, you need to go to sleep right now, go lay on your bed.

You might not be tired. You might be like, why are you trying to tell me what to do? I’m not tired. You might still have things that you needed to get done so your brain couldn’t shut off. My point being that it’s the same for babies, right? Like we get it in our head like, oh, okay, the internet said your wake window is two hours. So I’m going to go in to your room at the two hour mark and I’m going to lay you down or I’m going to try to support you to sleep and you need to go to sleep. But if your baby’s not tired,

Brittni (06:15.027)

they’re not going to fall asleep. If your baby feels stressed, maybe because they can feel that you’re stressed about trying to make the nap happen, they’re gonna have a hard time going to sleep. If they haven’t moved their body enough, they’re going to have a hard time falling asleep. If they are uncomfortable, they’re gonna have a hard time falling asleep, right? So we can’t control it. And then the thought of like, oh,

A nap has to be an hour long, right? Like where does this arbitrary number come from? It comes from the sleep training industry. Naps don’t need to be a certain length. It’s going to depend on your baby’s unique or your toddler’s unique sleep needs. And so we can’t control these things and yet we feel like we need to. And I think that this desire for control comes from the fact that when we become parents,

we lose a lot of control over our lives. We lose the ability to, like somebody calls us and they’re like, hey, do you wanna go to dinner in an hour? And we’re like, yeah, sure. That’s not happening with the baby. I mean, it can, maybe, but especially in the beginning, right? Like you have to plan, you have to get the diaper bag packed. You have to think about like, are they gonna be hungry while we’re out? If you’re nursing, do I need to wear like nursing?

Appropriate attire, the answer there would be yes, right? Because we know that when we’re nursing, we might need to pop the boob out anywhere. But just these things, right? Or like a simple running to the grocery store is no longer a simple running to the grocery store. Or a big one, going to sleep at the beginning of the night doesn’t mean that we’re going to wake up in the morning fully rested, right? Like we don’t know what night we’re going into. And so we lose a lot of control over our lives.

And so when we lose this control, we seek this, we seek to control other things in our lives. We want that control. It’s our brain, right? It’s our brain doing what it’s meant to do. It’s meant to feel safe. It’s meant to feel in control. But we’re trying to control the wrong thing, which is our baby or our toddler’s sleep. And so there’s a lot of freedom in…

Brittni (08:30.907)

recognizing, accepting, and trusting that you cannot control your child’s sleep. It feels scary, but it also is so freeing to release yourself from that pressure and release your baby from that pressure. And truly trust that they will sleep when they need to. And I know that’s a very simplified version, right?

but we can’t force sleep, we cannot control sleep. Now, what can we do in regards to sleep? The first thing that we can do is control our expectations. Okay, so knowing, okay, I know that the internet says my baby’s nap has to be an hour long or it’s a crap nap. That’s BS, let’s throw that out. Your baby has unique sleep needs. They might only need a 40 minute nap.

They might only need a 20 minute nap. What you need to figure out is what do they need? And you’re probably wondering, well, how do I know if a 20 minute nap is enough? You’re gonna wanna base it off of their mood. If they wake up after a 20 minute nap, happy, ready to go, they easily make it through their normal wake window, not a wake window that you have chosen for them, their natural wake window, I will say, then they got all the sleep they needed.

If they’re waking up grumpy and upset after a nap, then you can try to support them back to sleep. But you can really control your expectations by knowing what’s normal, by knowing that you cannot control sleep, by knowing that it’s biologically normal for your baby to need support and falling asleep, to prefer contact sleep.

It’s normal for them to be waking about every two to three hours throughout the night to get a quick feed or a snuggle and go back to sleep. And when you know this is normal, you don’t feel like you’re fighting against it. You’re working with your baby now instead of against them. And another aspect to controlling your expectations, and this goes hand in hand with what I was just talking about, knowing what’s normal, but educate yourself, right? Like we, a lot of us took the birthing class.

Brittni (10:49.587)

A lot of us took the breastfeeding class. Not many of us studied sleep before they were born or we read a sleep training book. In my case, I read a sleep training book and I was like, oh yes, this is what I’m doing. And then as soon as she came, I was like, this is not what we’re doing or she said this is not what we’re doing. And I knew that that wasn’t the route that we were gonna go. But we don’t educate ourselves a lot on who our children are biologically.

what their greatest needs are, attachment, right? Being close to us, what actual normal baby sleep looks like throughout history and across the world. Because we’re only seeing the lens of baby sleep, especially in the Western world. We’re only seeing it through the Western world, right? Like we’re seeing these beautiful nurseries. We’re seeing, like you have to like do the blackout shades during the day for the nap. If you look across,

human history and then throughout the world, even like in today’s day and age, many families don’t have the luxury of having another room for their baby. Many families don’t have the luxury of having blackout curtains. Many families don’t have the luxury of being able to afford the white noise machine, right? And yet their babies still sleep. And so that is something that we need to really do is educate ourselves on

what’s normal and what can you expect? And if you need that education, I have my zero to 12 month course that is a comprehensive sleep course that does educate you on what’s normal, what can you expect, how do you troubleshoot common sleep challenges? Because I think that’s one piece that when I talk a lot with families, yes, I talk about what’s normal, but knowing what’s normal does not also mean accepting something that feels unsustainable.

So that’s something else that you can control, right? You can control deciding what doesn’t feel sustainable and then making changes around that in a way that still works with your child and respects their needs. If you have a toddler, do not fear my toddler course is coming in April. I will drop the link for the wait list below so that you can join the wait list so you’ll know exactly when the course is launching. You’ll also get wait list.

Brittni (13:14.287)

detail or bonuses for joining the wait list. So that’s the education piece. Another thing that you can do with that comes to like controlling your expectations is manage the conversations that you’re having. If you know that you’re talking to someone that’s going to tell you that you’re creating bad habits or that you need to sleep train, maybe you don’t bring up sleep with those people. You really start to decide.

Who are you going to discuss what’s going on with sleep with? And then with the people that don’t feel like safe spaces or you walk away from those conversations feeling stressed out or like you’re failing, then maybe you’re censoring those conversations a little bit and just not talking about sleep. Piggybacking off of that, another thing that you can do is unfollow, and I’ve talked about this before, but unfollow accounts on social media that stress you out.

that make you feel like something’s wrong with your baby, that make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. Mute the mom’s groups that make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. Really cultivate a space for yourself if you’re going to be on social media that fills your heart with peace, that makes you feel supported, and does not cause more anxiety in your life. Because when you see those…

those videos of the baby sleeping in the crib, like their mom walks in and just puts them right down in the crib and they fall asleep. That can be really triggering for a lot of us who have to support our baby to sleep and then maybe they’re waking right upon transfer, right? So those accounts, those would be accounts that I would unfollow. I would be following accounts that really bring me peace of mind and make me feel like I’m doing a good job.

So that’s one thing that we can do in regards to controlling what we can around sleep since we can’t control sleep. Another thing that you can do is create healthy sleep hygiene for your little one. So what does healthy sleep hygiene mean? It means first of all, getting to know their unique sleep needs. What are their natural wake windows? What are their sleepy cues?

Brittni (15:34.213)

What do, how long do they usually nap for? And then letting that guide you, right? Because the more you’re tuning into their sleep needs, the easier sleep is going to be because you’re going off of their bodily patterns, right? We’re not forcing something onto them. You can also use sunlight to your advantage, right? We wanna be exposing our eyes and our bodies to bright natural sunlight in the morning.

and throughout the day as much as we can. And then as the sun starts setting, we really wanna start limiting light exposure, which is going to help our circadian rhythm. And our circadian rhythm guides our sleep and our eating patterns and our bathroom patterns, all of it. But if we can keep a healthy circadian rhythm, it’s gonna make sleep easier for our little ones and for ourselves. You can make sure that your little one is having plenty of opportunities throughout the day to move their body.

whether that be a four month old or a three month old or newborn, right? Who’s just able to lay on the bed with you near them or on the floor on a blanket and just move their body, look at what their hands can do, right? And then as they get older, maybe it’s tummy time, rolling over, all of this. For a toddler, this would be like making sure that they have that time during the day for…

moving their body, whether that be outside or inside. Another thing that you can do that’s really powerful is a routine. Having a routine around sleep and throughout your day is huge. Now, let me be clear here and say that this is not a schedule. I don’t want you to feel like you need to follow a strict schedule every day. A routine is simply activities that we do during the day, usually in a certain order.

specifically around sleep, like for a nap time routine, it might be as simple as like a diaper change. If you close the blinds for their nap, closing the blinds, maybe you sing a nap time song and then you support them to sleep. Or maybe it’s walking into the nursery, turning on the white noise machine, sitting in a chair and rocking them to sleep, right? Like nothing, it doesn’t have to be totally over the top. It doesn’t have to be a circus performance.

Brittni (17:55.955)

But the idea is, is that you’re doing these things in a certain order so that your child’s brain knows what to expect. And these are sleep associations, right? So, oh, we’re turning on the white noise, the brain knows, okay, I know what comes after white noise, I’m gonna start preparing for sleep. And these routines are so helpful because the human brain thrives off of patterns and predictability. So the more that your child’s brain knows what to expect,

the safer it’s going to feel and the easier sleep is going to be.

What else can you do when it comes to what you can control around sleep? You can choose a sleep setup that’s going to maximize sleep for your whole family. So if you are up all night long battling, trying to get your little one into the crib and you’re up, down, up, down, you get them to sleep and then you transfer them in and they’re waking up, you’re wasting valuable time that you could be sleeping.

And so maybe this means that the crib is not the most sustainable for your family. It doesn’t mean that you have two bedchairs. You could simply maybe bring the crib into their room or into your room, excuse me, if it’s not already in your room, at least then you’re not like getting up, walking to a different room, wasting that time. Maybe you set up a sidecar crib so that they’re still in their own sleep space, but you’re much closer and there’s that…

ability to connect with you through the senses. Maybe it’s a floor bed. Maybe it is bed sharing, right? If your current sleep setup feels unsustainable and is contributing to less sleep, that’s something you can control. You can change your sleep setup to choose something that’s going to maximize sleep for your whole family. And lastly, you can maximize the sleep that you are getting.

Brittni (19:54.003)

I’ve talked about this before. I think it was my first episode of this year, but maximizing your sleep. So we are always, I shouldn’t say always, we are often so focused on our child’s sleep that we stop focusing on our sleep, right? Like we just want their sleep to be good, but really there are things that we could be doing right now to maximize the sleep that we are getting. So.

Again, if you wanna go back and listen to that full episode, if you haven’t already, I recommend it, but I am gonna just briefly go through some things that you could be doing to maximize the sleep that you are getting. This one’s hard, and I feel like when I heard this, when Lila was younger, it would annoy me because it’s like, I parent all day long, I’m a mom all day long, and then I want some time at the end of the day. But going to sleep early is a game changer.

It really is. Like if you are in a phase where you’re going through a sleep progression, your little one’s teething, whatever the case may be, if they’re waking up really frequently, go to bed early, nine o ‘clock, maybe even 8 .30, right? Like get that sleep so that you can get, especially like if you know your little one does a nice three hour stretch at the beginning of the night, I would be trying to go to bed as early as I could so that I could get that three hour stretch too.

Now, if your little one’s going to bed at 6 .30 or 7, you might not be tired then, but just try to go to sleep earlier if you can. And it doesn’t even have to be every night. Like if you want some time to yourself at the end of the night to decompress and just stare at the wall, whatever you need to do, you can do that, right? Maybe you schedule, okay, three nights this week I’m gonna go to bed early and then the other four nights I’m gonna give myself until 10 o ‘clock.

or whatever, maybe it’s vice versa. Four nights of the week, I’m gonna go to bed early. Three nights of the week, I’m gonna give myself some time. Another thing that you can do to maximize your sleep is again, use light to your advantage. So as the sun starts going down, really limit artificial light exposure and that also means screens. So maybe that means not looking at your phone for an hour before bed. Maybe that means not watching TV for an hour before bed.

Brittni (22:14.003)

Maybe it means listening to a podcast instead of watching something. Maybe it means sitting in bed and reading a book. I think I’ve shared this on the podcast before, but I no longer watch anything at night usually. Maybe like once a week I will, but usually in bed I get in bed and I read. And I have like a little, like an LED red light reading light that doesn’t.

What am I trying to say? It doesn’t emit blue light. So that’s really helpful as well. Another thing that you can do to maximize your sleep is avoid caffeine in the afternoon, which I know is so hard, but it really can help you. You can also make sure that you’re moving your body throughout the day. If you’re not moving your body throughout the day, you’re gonna have energy, even if you were up all night last night, but you didn’t move your body during the day, even a little bit, whatever. Like,

whatever feels good, you’re gonna have leftover energy and then it is gonna be harder to sleep. So maybe that’s going on a walk. Maybe it’s doing a five minute yoga flow, five minutes, right? Something. Maybe it’s just stretching your body, but if you can pay attention to your body, that’s gonna help you sleep too. And then also just eating nutritious foods that might not, well, it can help you with sleep, especially like if you’re avoiding sugar before dinner.

or not before dinner, before bed. But the eating nutritious foods is going to help you have more energy. So I hope that this episode just helps you kind of truly accept that you cannot control how your baby’s sleeping. You cannot control, let me go back.

when I say you cannot control how your baby’s sleeping. If your baby’s waking hourly, we want to be looking into why are they waking hourly, what’s going on. I would like, if I see a baby who’s waking hourly, their norm is waking hourly, there’s probably red flags going on that we need to look into. So that would be in our control, right? To look into these red flags, to resolve any underlying issues so that they can then sleep longer stretches. So that’s a little bit of like a caveat.

Brittni (24:37.491)

but we cannot control sleep in general. We can’t decide exactly when they’re going to sleep. We can’t decide how long they’re going to sleep like for their naps, right? So we can let go of that control and focus on the things that we can control. So maybe after this episode, you take a few minutes, you journal it out. Like maybe you just like say, literally journal it out like 10 times. I cannot control sleep. I cannot control sleep.

I cannot control sleep. Maybe you just have that be your mantra when you’re feeling really stressed about sleep. But take some time and focus on, okay, so what are some things that I can do today to ease my anxiety around sleep and help me take control in a healthy and productive way? As I talked about at the beginning of the episode,

If you have a little one who is between zero to 12 months and you’re feeling lost, or you just feel like you need some education or guidance on how to make changes to things, check out my Resting in the First Year course. It’s all of the information that I wish I would have had in the first year of life. And it really gives you all of the education and tools that you need to confidently navigate sleep and also make changes to the things that aren’t working. And then, like I said, if you have a toddler,

I will link the wait list below. I would love for you to join in when I launch the course in April to help you with your toddler sleep as well. I wish you a beautiful day and I am sending sleepy vibes your way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *