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  • Aileen Britt

“Sleep Like a Baby”… What does that even mean??

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

Baby James-7

To “Sleep like a baby” – What does that even mean??

I’m not sure. I have 4 kids, and like you, have always heard people claim that someone who is out cold, is “sleeping like a baby.” I’m not sure they have kids. Or have ever been around babies. My experience with real babies “sleeping like a baby” goes something like this.

7:00pm- Bathe, rock, nurse. Baby falls asleep. Mommy puts baby down and pours a glass of wine.

7:20pm- Baby wakes up screaming. Nurse.

7:30pm- Baby falls asleep. Mommy puts baby down and takes a sip of wine.

7:35pm- Baby lets out massive poop that runs up said baby’s back and into her hair.

7:40pm- Bathe. Nurse. Sleep. Wine.

8:00pm- Is that crying. Sure is… possibly from both mom AND baby.

I think you see the pattern. Babies DO sleep like babies. Which is sporadically, on their schedule, when they feel like it, with no regard to the world around them. Selfish little beings that they are, it is always a crapshoot. I know, I know…the 5 S’s. However, if I needed to be swaddled, shushed, swayed and whatever else those last 2 S’s stand for, I would not consider myself a good sleeper, nor would anyone else. I suppose I would be sleeping like a baby though.

When it comes to newborn photography, all we can do is follow baby’s lead. Make sure they are warm, fed, wrapped nice and tight until they fall into a deep sleep. Sometimes, when the moon aligns just right with Jupiter and Venus or whatever, there is a baby who is a dream.. like this beauty.

She fell asleep and stayed asleep through all sorts of jostling, posing changes, farts (from her of course, and we all know they sound like truckers), flash, camera shutter, garbage trucks (outside of course)… You name it, it was not going to interrupt her Z’s. She was such an easy baby to work with.

Now THIS guy…


This guy right here, did not sleep like any man I have ever known. He slept more “like a baby” that I expect. He was so curious, and wanted to watch everything around him. Then he had gas. Then he had to pee. Then he was hungry. Then he had more gas. Then a dog barked and a horn honked. This guy was going to really make me work for it. I love babies, and I have no problem snuggling and rocking with them. I love their smell and their feel… the softness of their hair and smoothness of their skin. I had 4 after all, I have to like them a little. I could snuggle babies all day, except that I have a job to do! They are not brought to me for snuggles, I am sure they get more than enough at home. This precious baby boy FINALLY fell asleep for mom and I…after 2 hours. Yay! We have him all snuggled in his little basket, figuring we’d get a few shots from a few different angles…and I release the shutter…CLICK! It’s over. One shot, and this was it. I don’t know if it was the camera, or the flash, or a fly flying by… but that was it. He wasn’t sleeping anymore, and he wasn’t going to sleep anymore, and thank you very much, but he wasn’t going to tolerate being wrapped in any fabrics, or placed anywhere but in someone’s arms. We got one beautiful, peaceful shot of this angel. Many times I am thankful for that one shot I get that can be displayed in a nursery, or in the living room.

Most of the time, I find babies fall somewhere in between.

This session was pretty average, it took a while, with some fussing and complaining, lots of nursing and rocking…but she fell asleep. After a few repeat cycles, she stayed asleep. She allowed us to pose her and move her, wrap her and unwrap her… place her in baskets and on swings. She even waved to us! A few times we had to wait a few seconds as she needed to settle down a little while shifting sleep cycles or after she startled herself. For the most part after she went to sleep, she was a breeze. Not easy, but not awake the whole session.

“Sleep like a baby”, seems to me somewhat misleading. It’s a term that brings to mind for me, short 20 minutes cycles of sleep, along with a mix of diaper changes, feeding, fussiness. An easy session, with a baby who sleeps so well and so deeply that I can move through full posing and change outfits and props and wraps… well, to me that baby sleeps more “like a man”. You know those men. They could sleep through AC/DC playing Highway To Hell live in their bedroom, or babies you know, sleeping like babies, while everyone else in the house is wide awake.

So, if we are chatting about a session, and how to prep, and babies feeding and sleeping habits… I’d really love to hear “baby sleeps like a man”! If I hear baby is sleeping like a baby, I am going to expect a baby that is going to get lots of snuggles and rocking from me, and the need for lots of patience and waiting to capture those sweet, but fleeting, sleeping moments. And that’s ok. Who wouldn’t love to spend a few hours snuggling newborns?

Hunterdon County Newborn Photography

Sleeping like a baby (or man)

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