If you’ve been a parent for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve been asked, “Is he/she sleeping through the night?” I cringe when I hear this question; whether it’s to me or a friend. People ask this question with such a tone to their voice. It’s as if that’s step number two to determining (in their brain) whether or not you’ve reached “good mom” status, generally preceded by “are you breastfeeding?”
This irritates me because whether or not your child sleeps through the night has nothing to do with how great of a mom you are or aren’t. And quite frankly, there is so much research shown that it’s not even biologically appropriate for your infant to be sleeping through the night. This isn’t to say that some don’t, but parents shouldn’t expect their baby to be sleeping through the night 4 weeks, 4 months, or even 10 months after being born. Please realize that infants, especially under 3 months, who sleep through the night are not the norm, they are the exception. In fact, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, only two-thirds of infants under the age of 6 months sleep through the night regularly.
This tends to be even more true for nursing babies. This is for a couple different reasons. Number 1: Breastmilk is exactly what a baby needs with no extras, therefore it is generally digested faster than formula, meaning a baby would be hungrier sooner. Number 2: Nursing babies crave that physical touch from their moms. This need for physical touch was heightened when I went back to work. If you think about it, that makes perfect sense.
If you do genuinely want to know if your friend’s baby is sleeping through the night and you decide to ask them, please do not offer them “solutions” unless they ask. I personally didn’t care that my babies didn’t sleep through the night until close to 15-18 months. Yes, I was a walking, talking, barely functioning member of society during those sleepless nights, but I birthed my babies fully expecting that to be the case. Crying it out was not for me. Changing something that was working for us, wasn’t for me. Hearing all the ways you added formula and cereal to their bedtime bottle so they would sleep longer, wasn’t for me. We were just fine in our current situation and I didn’t want or need anyone’s “help.” Maybe I’m in the minority, but once I got over the initial thought of you’re awake again, I always enjoyed the time where it was just me, baby, and breast, all alone in the world. If your friend, relative, or coworker is asking for suggestions, then by all means, help the lady out!
Where my babies and kids sleep also doesn’t have anything to do with you. Again, we have figured out what works for us and have stuck to it. One of my very good friends, who I think is an amazing momma to her 6-year-old son, had him sleep in his nursery since day one home from the hospital, even though she was nursing. This worked for her, her husband, and her baby. Hearing that a newborn was sleeping in their own room since night one gives me anxiety. I knew I needed the baby to be right next to me. Guess what? Both of us are pretty good parents if I do say so myself. Now that our babies are no longer babies, some of my friends don’t allow their children in bed with them at all. We allow the girls to sleep with us if they come to our bed in the middle of the night.
Honestly, I love when they come to bed with us and feel a little offended when neither one of them make it to my bed on a given night. I love that they find so much comfort between me and their daddy. I love that they know they are safe and loved, even in the middle of the night. I know that this won’t last forever, so I plan on soaking in every single snuggle while I can. The idea of bedsharing is so bothersome to some people, and while it may not be their thing, there’s nothing wrong with doing so.
Sleep training vs allowing the baby to find its own sleeping pattern, crying it out vs comforting that baby and bedsharing vs everyone in their own beds is just about as controversial as nursing vs formula fed. It seems you’re on one side or the other. In reality, as long as every baby and child is fed and every baby and child gets an appropriate amount of sleep, let everyone do what works for them. If everyone allowed people to make their own decisions without being judged, the world would be such a happier place.
Until next time…
“Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move mountains.”