“As a mom of three boys, I’ve experienced this encounter all too many times.
‘Awe! He’s adorable! How are things going? How’s he sleeping?’
Once you have a baby, somehow or another, every friend, family member, and stranger is suddenly super interested in your life and they all want to know one thing. How is baby sleeping?
Well I’ll tell ya Janice, if you couldn’t already tell by the giant black bags under my eyes, baby isn’t sleeping well. He breastfeeds about every 30 minutes, will only fall asleep if he’s being bounced, rocked, and having his butt pat all at the same time, and he won’t sleep in his crib for longer than thirty seconds.
What started out as a harmless question regarding your child’s sleep, has now developed into Janice giving you all the joyful unsolicited parenting advice she can summon. She’s sweetly and annoyingly telling you all the things she thinks your sleep deprived brain couldn’t have possibly considered.
Stop nursing him so often.
Use a swaddle, it worked for my Jimmy.
He needs to just cry it out.
He’s becoming too dependent on you. It’s hard, but you need to break that habit.
And on and on.
I’ve recently stopped to consider this rather strange interaction with others when it comes to babies and sleep.
First of all, when did newborn babies not sleeping through the night become a bad thing?
We just took this beautiful child, who’s only known the warmth, comfort, and safety of our wombs, and thrust him into a loud, cold, and uncomfortable environment. Why are we so shocked and concerned when these babies wants to be held, rocked, nursed, and soothed rather than lay cold, hungry, and alone in their open hard cribs?
God forbid those same newborns grow into bigger babies and still aren’t sleeping well.
Have you ever been stuck at grocery store checkout talking to a Nancy because she asked about your nine month old and you ended up telling her he still wasn’t sleeping well, hence the reason you had so much coffee and creamer in your cart.
You’re met with a horrified expression, ‘Your nine month old, still isn’t sleeping?!’
‘Well,’ you start, ‘he still nurses throughout the night. It’s more of a comfort thing than anything else. And he can’t be swaddled anymore because he rolls over, and he just seems to hate his crib, and–’
And Nancy is still staring at you like you’re some poor lost soul who’s in need of some major help which cues the long list of advice that’s ‘sure’ to work if you just commit. And surely, you don’t want a ten-year-old still sleeping in your bed, right? And these sleeping issues will make for lifelong struggles down the road. And while she talks, you’re just searching for the nearest grocery cart going a touch too fast so that you can put your head directly in its path if it means leaving the conversation.
GUYS. We have got to stop judging a mom’s ability to parent based on how well her kids are sleeping.
Sleep training is HARD.
Some babies and kids just struggle to sleep. Despite the night light, and the oil diffuser, the music, the fan, the weighted blanket, the bottle, the paci, their favorite lovey, and the humidifier, they still struggle, and that’s OKAY.
What works for some children, doesn’t work for others. Some moms are okay with the cry it out method, others aren’t. Some parents rock their kids to sleep every night, others want them to self soothe to sleep. But whatever the parents decide is best, it’s their choice. Their child’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep doesn’t say anything about the parents or the child!
Allow me to share a few secrets with you.
How and when my child sleeps is none of your business.
My child’s sleep schedule is not on a public debate forum.
Whether my child sleeps through the night, or is up every hour, doesn’t dictate how good of a mom I am.
Let’s stop asking this sleep question of others as if their parenting success hinges on it, because it doesn’t. If you know of someone who’s child isn’t sleeping well, offer sympathy. I think we’ve all been there at some point or another. And after that, encourage them!
I promise you that these moms don’t need to hear things they’ve already tried but didn’t have success with. I promise you we don’t care that you rubbed essential oils in between your kids toes twice a day and he slept through the night. But I can promise you that what we’d love is a word of encouragement. A simple, ‘You’re doing great! This phase doesn’t last forever. Hang in there, momma!’
If you’re a friend or family member, stop offering new tips and tricks to get their kid to finally snooze. Instead, offer your help. Offer to rock the baby while mom sleeps. Offer to bring her some coffee. Offer a listening ear without judgement. When in doubt, offer your presence and helping hands.
We’re all just doing our best.”
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