The one sleep question all new parents dread being asked

Posted in Sleeping.

Bringing home a new baby for the first time is scary enough without having to deal with all those ‘innocent’ questions from friends and family that trigger a sea of negative thoughts. 

“Are you sure you should be doing that?”

You know … the ones that make you rethink everything, like “Are you sure you should be doing that?” and, “Can’t you just sleep when the baby sleeps?”

But as Feed Play Love presenter Shevonne Hunt recalls, the question she dreaded the most was, “Is she sleeping through the night?”

“The first thing you think is, ‘Oh no, they’re not. Is there something wrong?’ And the next thing you think is, ‘Is that even possible? How do I make it happen?'” says Shevonne. 

Born to feed

The truth is that sleep is not a priority for your newborn; feeding is.

As our resident mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue has previously said: “The first thing, which is the most frightening piece of information when bringing a baby home, is that they’re born to feed, not to sleep.

“They often cluster feed in the first three to four weeks at night, so you often perceive that as an unsettled period.”

So when exactly is a baby physically capable of sleeping reasonable hours? Maybe an eight hour stretch from whenever you put her down to whenever she gets up – without waking?

Listen to Veena Parry on Feed Play Love:

“100 percent unrealistic”

Veena Parry is a paediatric sleep consultant from Sleep Sweet Sleep Deep. She says we shouldn’t even be thinking about our baby sleeping through the night before six months.

“I think that’s completely unrealistic. It’s 100 percent unrealistic,” says Veena.

The truth is that every baby is different, and you have to look at the child as an individual.

“I’ve seen three-week-olds do nine hours. And I’ve seen 18-month-olds still waking to need to feed during the night,” explains Veena. “So I would say always look at your child, and if you are worried, get a health professional’s advice.”

Unicorn baby

If you do have what Veena dubs a “baby unicorn” who sleeps through the night, then that’s fantastic, but if you don’t, then she has this piece of advice for you:

“If you’re having trouble, please don’t feel like there’s something wrong.

“I think we put so much pressure on ourselves, and yes, it is that question, ‘Are they sleeping through the night?’ I remember getting it myself with my first, and it really annoyed me.

“Basically I don’t think it’s developmentally appropriate to expect a baby to sleep through the night or do any more than a stretch of seven hours before six months.”

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