Look, I get it. People have the BEST intentions when they ask you if your baby sleeps through the night because they ultimately know how important a good night’s sleep is to both a parent and baby’s wellbeing.
But as someone with a VERY wakeful baby, this question always sends me into a complete tailspin of anxiety and self doubt.
Because no matter how much we’ve been able to accomplish with white noise, total darkness, routine, and putting the baby down awake, I still find myself waking up anywhere between 2-5 times every night with my 5-month-old to either feed him or creep my monitor until he falls back asleep on his own. Only to wake up the next morning to see that practically every other parent I know seems to get their babies to sleep for 12 hours straight. Cue the hysterical crying (by me) and unhealthy obsession with baby sleep.
After spending dozens, if not hundreds, of hours on Google trying to troubleshoot my baby, it seems there is a HUGE range in terms of what is “normal” for babies, especially when you consider the vast differences in their personalities and other factors like regressions, teething, developmental milestones, growth spurts, etc. In fact, it’s perfectly normal for me to still feed my 5-month-old twice at night and he may not even night wean entirely until he is well established on solids (usually at around 9 months).
I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t sleep train your baby. I think there are HUGE benefits to helping your child learn the art of falling asleep on their own. We’ve seen it ourselves when Ollie went from waking up every 2 hours on the dot during the 4-month regression to now being able to soothe himself back to sleep for 6-7 hour stretches (on a good night).
I simply think we should stop putting set expectations on parents (and babies!) of having to sleep through the night by ‘x’ number of months to help reduce the feelings of anxiety and failure associated with any perceived shortcomings.
And here’s the real kicker. One of my good mama friends has one of those perfect little 12-hour sleepers and you know what she said? That she doesn’t even TELL people her baby sleeps through the night because she’s usually met with judging looks as if she harshly refuses to feed her hungry baby or practised voodoo magic in order to make it happen.
So let’s be a little kinder to our parents and babies – and take a pause the next time we are tempted to ask a question that, unfortunately, can have so many different negative connotations no matter how well a baby sleeps.
Meanwhile I’ll be over here earning my shares in Starbucks!