How not to give a rat’s bottom about your baby’s sleep: A Guide

Annoying other person: “Are they sleeping through?”

Me: “Are they sleeping through what? A film? A storm? An earthquake? “

Every new parent's dream...

Every new parent’s dream…

What they mean is through the night. Down at 7 and up again at 7. Seems like a stupid question to me. Plus why is it such a big deal if your baby sleeps through the night or not? Is there a prize if this is achieved? Does it indicate that your baby is better than anybody else’s? Does it make you a better parent? Well no, but for some really random reason the world and his dog are concerned with your child’s sleeping pattern from the moment they pop out of you.

So why am I discussing this topic? Well. It all began through social media (well a googling mum does spend time on the net as we know)! On a popular social networking site, a mummy site that I follow posted an article featuring an expert who ‘claimed’ all children can sleep through for 12 hours. In fact, they claimed that they can get a child to sleep through from 6 weeks old.  For 12 hours. Solidly. All. The. Way. Through. The. Night. They posted the article asking what parents thought about this. I posted this response:

ME:  No they don’t – no one sleeps solidly for 12 hours. Plus babies need feeding regularly at that age. Children aren’t supposed to ‘sleep through’ until 4 years. Some may achieve this sooner – maybe at 12 weeks. Why is it such a big deal to sleep through? Sleep through without feeds? Sleep through without nappy changes?
Why is it so important to have your tiny dependent baby that has spent 9 months inside of you and having every need catered for suddenly ‘trained’ to sleep through because that’s what the parent wants? An undisturbed night’s sleep?? Sorry if this seems like a rant but maybe these sleep experts should actually say – you know what every child is different and not a programmable robot so let them naturally fall into a sleeping pattern that suits them’ then again you wouldn’t have a book to sell then that claims to solve a ‘created’ problem for parents.

So it must have touched a nerve. And on reflection it has. It bothers me this ‘being bothered by how much or little sleep your baby has’ issue. So I thought I’d create a guide to assist those of you who, like me, want to not give a poo stick and just deal with the regular change in sleep patterns that are PERFECTLY normal and to be expected with a growing child who is, as I posted in my social media post, not a ‘programmable robot’ (I think you can sense the tone here…).

Dreaming of sleep...

Dreaming of sleep…

So what advice do I have to give?

Well first, a disclaimer, I’m no bloody expert nor do I claim to be. But part of the issue with trying to get a baby to sleep is trying to get a baby to sleep. Don’t worry, eventually your baby will sleep. However, you will mainly have two choices as to how this is achieved.

One: You go completely baby led and respond to their needs and let things run their course. Or…

Two: You go parent led and sleep train. Sadly, I am not a fan of any type of sleep training or controlled crying at all. It’s not for me. If this is is your thing then I have no advice to offer but good luck and enjoy getting your child to sleep to a controlled routine.

As I’ve stated clearly in the title, this is how not to give a rat’s bottom about your baby’s sleep. I never claimed to have any help in getting your baby to sleep. What I do hope to assist you with is changing your view on it and not making it an issue. Because it’s not. Carry on reading if this is for you…

The biggest tip is this, don’t stress about how much sleep your baby is getting. My little Pudding wouldn’t nap in the day and if she did, it would be a light cat nap. In fact we’d joke about how she would fight sleep (which she did). Bedtime would happen when she was ready. In fact, this time last year, when she was 8 weeks old she was settling at 11pm and up again at 2am for a feed which is normal and to be expected as she needed regular feeding because she was a baby and that’s why they wake – to be fed, changed or hugged (don’t forget the hugging this is very important and sometimes we may forget about this). By March,  the dumpling was down to a 9pm bedtime and still waking at 2am for a feed but she had decided the sleep routine. Now she goes down about 8pm sometimes 7pm. Occasionally, it’s been back up to 10pm (usually when she’s ill or teething). The main thing is, because I stopped stressing about what time she was going down and when and just learnt to read her sleepy cues, we eventually fell into our own Pudding led sleep routine.

The second tip, don’t over think it, your baby will sleep. Sadly you may be as exhausted as they come but there will be a point when they go down and have a sleep. In fact they’re most likely to sleep when they’re close to you and this is another tip – don’t try and get them down in the cot as soon as you can, let them sleep on your for a bit if it makes them feel more settled and relaxed. Enjoy the fact that they’re small and snuggly as one day they could be 6ft 5 and smelling of sweat and ignoring you to play X box. You’d wish you could be that close to them then….well.

Remember this: ‘this too shall pass‘ and it will. And that’s it. Baby’s sleep patterns change all the time for no rhyme or reason. Sometimes they’re ill, sometimes they’re teething, sometimes they’re over stimulated , sometimes they’ve had a busy and exciting day. One day they sleep fine the next they don’t. It’ll pass through. No one complains they have a fourteen year old that doesn’t sleep. In fact the opposite is the problem….

Don’t be bothered by what you think ‘normal’ or ‘average’ is. Babies are not all a like or the same. They’re as individual as the parents that made them. Just because your friend’s baby is sleeping for 9 hours a night and you barely get 2 hours undisturbed doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. It’s frustrating as crap but not much one can do (grrrr to the smug mummy).

Snoozing Pudding

Snoozing Pudding

So, on a final note, I googled (obvs) and read (somewhere I don’t remember) that  children don’t all achieve that full night’s sleep until 4 years old. So if you have a three year old that still won’t settle right at night, just go with it. Accept the lack of sleep and don’t give a rat’s bottom. No one said as parents we would sleep. We all knew about this before we had kids, in fact it’s pretty well documented that kids don’t sleep great when they’re little. We just all hope for the best that maybe our little rascal will be the one that does and sometimes this is the case. And sometimes it isn’t. Even if they’re  down early they’re usually (hopefully in the case of smug mummy sleep braggers) up even earlier (it’s like they know). Anyway, the final tip is just relax and accept it for what it is, a precious stage of child development that will be over all too soon and disappear from your life before you even realise. It’ll generally be replaced with something else to worry about any how, this seems to be the case with child rearing!