WARNING: Im annoyed whilst writing this but you probably can't tell.
Ok I just wanna get this off my chest. A few post on social media I've seen by fellow "baby sleep experts" has really pissed me off so I thought I'd just write this and say my piece on the subject.
I saw a post by an "expert" advertising a seminar teaching how to get newborns sleeping through the night.
It irritated me to the nth degree and then the comments that came after I challenged the experts point of view made my blood boil.
Why would an expert be teaching a class on a newborn sleeping through?
Surely any baby expert worth their salt would know that a newborn being trained to sleep through the night is dangerous?
Now I don't claim to know everything but what I don't know I research and I always do my darnedest to ensure I share correct information in regards to baby and toddler sleep. It's my responsibility as a parent and a human right?
You may have heard many baby sleep experts or well meaning friends, relatives passers by or know-it alls say any or all of the following to you.
" Babies should be able to sleep through the night by 3 months olds"
"You need a strict feeding schedule to make sure your baby will sleep through the night"
" babies need to be taught how to sleep"
"Toddlers that don't sleep through the night have sleep problems"
"Co sleeping or bed sharing is dangerous"
" when your baby is on solids they should be sleeping through the night"
" when your baby cries at night they're just manipulating you"
" if you rock your baby to sleep you will always have to rock your baby to sleep"
I hear these myths all the time and often when fellow experts spout them off I literally roll my eyes and kiss my teeth ( the west indian in me) in vexation. I even had a maternity nurse say one of the above to me expecting me to agree. I didn't and I don't.
The above statements are Bullshit! Lies! Untruths! Tosh, fooey, poppycock, crap, shite, fally, insert whatever word suits you!
These are all just my opinions but it's my blog so I'm sharing them. Disagree if you want to I'm open for debate!
1. Babies should sleep through the night by 3 months old.
Says who? Gina Ford? Oops shouldn't say her name she might sue me. I'm not about to slag off Gina ford some of what she teaches works (buts that's a topic for discussion on another day). But many experts do preach that babies should be sleeping through by 3 months old. Some babies CAN sleep through the night, others a bit later, others struggle. Most of those babies that do sleep through come 3 months often have sleep regressions later on and begin having overnight wakings again. But not because they have sleep problems but because they're babies. Babies wake up over night! It's what they do, totally and completely normal, a pain for us parents but normal all the same.
2. You need a strict feeding schedule to make sure your baby will sleep through the night.
Really? So babies only wake up at night because they're hungry? And what if at 3pm when the schedule says time for milk your baby isn't hungry or want to feed. Does that mean your screwed that night? Babies and toddlers wake overnight for various reasons, over tiredness, they could be too hot, too cold, their nappy might have leaked or they have a bowel movement, a sudden noise woke them up, they have things on their mind ( yes this is possible for you toddler!) or they could indeed be hungry! A daily routine or rhythms to your babies day is a great way to introduce consistency to your little ones days, allowing for flexibility too but a strict schedule in my opinion sets you both up to feel like failures if things don't go to plan.
3. "Babies need to be taught how to sleep"
Not true! Sleep is a basic human need something we all have to do at some point. When a newborn is tired they'll sleep. If they hungry they'll cry and let you know if they need to burp, the same, nappy change.... You get my drift. As your baby gets older they develop more physical skills and explore the world around them that inspires their curiosity but toddlers lack self control probably aren't very aware of when they're tired or even what being tired is and can often override the need to sleep if they gets distracted or excited by anything they witness or are involved in and that's when us parents have to step in and help them develop the skills to wind down and relax ready to sleep. At first we as parents need to be heavily involved in the wind down process but as your baby/toddler develops and matures skills like falling asleep independently become second nature ( again with help from parents).
4." toddlers that don't sleep through the night have sleep problems"
Firstly if I haven't said this to you before I'll say it now. NOBODY sleeps through the night. No one. Everybody children and adults have brief awakenings overnight. The difference is most adults just roll over, turn there pillow over, adjust they're sleep position and then go right on back to sleep. They don't even remember being awake most of the time. The difference is with toddlers they sometimes wake themselves right up and need help to get back to sleep. It's normal. Toddlers wake for various reasons overnight sometimes hunger or bladder or bowel movements, sometimes for emotional reasons too. If there's been sudden change in your toddlers world, like you going back to work and them starting nursery or school. It can have an emotions
Impact that can make it hard for toddlers to switch off and relax at night. Toddlers have worries too!
5. Co-sleeping & bed sharing is dangerous.
Oh come on! Parents have been co sleeping and bed sharing with children for years. Babies Sleeping in cots in the nursery is a fairly new concept introduced into western society, but for years families have slept together with their young fairly safely. When I had my own daughter the thought of shutting her in another room in a cot by herself filled me with dread. I did eventually have her in her own room but not until we were both ready. Before that she was in her Moses baskets beside my bed or in bed with me feeding. It's didn't create bad habits either. If co sleeping or bed sharing suits you and your family sod anyone who says otherwise. You can wean your children off it later if if becomes a problem for you but if you all sleep better together go with it!
6 when your baby is on solids they should be sleeping through the night.
I covered most of this in point 2. Hunger is not the only reason babies wake up overnight and if hunger is the reason solid foods isn't always the answer either. If it was there wouldn't be so many toddlers waking up at night too!
7." when your baby cries at night they are manipulating you"
Yes that's right they were sent from beyond the womb to control your every movement with a mere whimper your mission is to take control. If your baby cries at night it's not a judgement of your patenting abilities, it's not to keep you from sleeping because they know how desperately tired you are. They communicating something to you. Babies & toddlers use crying to express themsleves and communicate. Babies can't talk and toddlers language are emerging but limited and if they're tired they're not going to be thinking of how to tell you what's wrong. they'll just use they're instincts and cry, for us as parents it's for us to listen and respond to what they're trying to communicate. Not easy to do at 3 am half asleep I know.
8. "If you rock your baby to sleep at night you'll always have to rock your baby to sleep"
Well I don't know about you but I've never seen any 13 year olds being rocked to sleep by their mum, have you? This is another myth that irritates me. There is nothing wrong with rocking your baby to sleep at night if you so choose. I will say, if rocking your baby to sleep is the only method you use to settle them everytime you need them to go to sleep it could become crutch for them but most mothers have more than one method for settling they're little ones. And if your little one is poorly unwell or upset it's natural to want to cuddle and soothe them.
So there you have it, the truth or MY truth (if you don't agree) about baby sleep!
It's not babies that need sleep training I think some of us grown ups need the sleep training! Training in what's normal! *drops mic & exits stage*
Charmaine Walters is a mum, night nanny, infant sleep coach and the creator of The Soundly Sleeping Club. Her online resource and members club for sleep deprived parents. To learn more about The Soundly Sleeping Club and how joining can help you not only get more sleep but help you better understand why your little one can struggle with sleep at times (and what you can do about it!) click here