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So do they sleep well?

What is the thing with people and their obsession with how well my children are sleeping?

What exactly is ‘sleeping through’ and why is everyone so utterly obsessed with it?

And come to think of it what IS sleeping through?

As far as I can tell from researching a normal, happy, contented breastfed baby won’t sleep for more than a few hours at a time when they are newborn.  As they get older they can sleep longer but let’s not forget the evolutionary necessity which means that a baby sleeps best close to its parents and close to the smell of its mum’s milk.

So where has the disconnect arisen?  Why does my red book ask at what age my child routinely sleeps through?

Why doesn’t someone say that sleeping through is probably as many hours as the child is old to start with, that babies need comfort, toddlers routine but to know that they are loved and cherished.

Why do people feel the need to make me feel ‘bad’ (their view, not mine, I’m ok with my choices) that I co-sleep with both of mine.  Often at the same time.  As does my husband.

We’re not hippies.

Or some kind of parenting fundamentalists.

We’re just full time working parents trying our best and our best means that we are dealing with the big one sleepwalking, having nightmares and pushing every boundary she can find – she’s a toddler, its what they do.  And our little one often needs milk in the night, comfort in the night and cuddles.

Not because either of them are trying it on or we’re ‘creating a rod for our back’ because they are children and whilst some of them do sleep well, others don’t every night.

And them not sleeping isn’t wrong, it just is.

If you get me on a bad day (well after a bad night) if you ask in a pitying tone if they sleep I may just find a copy of one of those parenting manuals and shove it somewhere….

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14 comments to So do they sleep well?

  • spudballoo

    >I don't think you need to feel defensive about it. How you choose to sleep is entirely your business and every one else can just shut up!

    But perhaps people/red book's are asking about whether your girls are sleeping through because, let's face it, long term sleep deprivation has a massive effect on the adults involved. Really, it's torture. So very possibly your red book/HV might like to know if YOU are no getting a full night's sleep, because it effects YOU! Ditto any friends asking? Just a thought.

    I didnt get a full night's sleep for 3.5 years due to a combination of pregnancy insomnia, baby, baby AND pregnancy insomina, baby….blah. Neither of my boys 'slept through' until they were 10 months old. By that I meant they went to bed around 7pm, but were up for the day around 5am. Around 13/14months they were doing 12 hours a night.

    Sheesh those years were..THE…PITS. Just appalling. I did everything I did could to get them to sleep more because Bertie, especially, was dreadful. Up 8-10 times a night and only feeding would get him back off. I was wrecked. And then i got pregnant when he was 8 months old. Gah. I would have co-slept, but he just didn't 'get it' – it made it worse. Weep!

    I eventually employed a 'sleep training nanny' to help us. It was a 'mildish' version of CC which, I know, is contraversial and I'm sure loads of people judged me. I couldn't give A STUFF. I just couldnt' go on like that. he wasn't napping in the day, nights were appalling. Gah.

    It's easy being a perfect parent, until you have children. You do all sorts of stuff which isn't 'allowed' but when you're at the coal face it's do or die really isn't it?

    Head down, get on with it, stuff everyone else…see you on the other side. That's my motto.


  • ella

    >I totally agree with you on this. My 2 year old still sleeps with me or in his cot next to the bed and I might have any one of the other three (4,7 and 8) on a mattress at the end of the bed or creeping into bed at some point.

    I don't love it exactly but I enjoy knowing that they are comforted and can sleep well if they are with us. My family likes to drop comments about 'creating a rod' and so on but I'm pretty sure none of the children will still want to be in our bed when they're teenagers!

  • Notes to self plus two

    >Well said, my favourite question to anyone who says "sleeping through" is "What do you mean by sleeping through?" Often get an interesting, mmm well, when I say sleeping blah blah.

  • Francesca

    >I love this comment, so honest and real. My little boy sleeps in his own room most of the time, but on those occasions when he is ill or needing abit more comfort and he is in with us – I secretly love it. I also agree that a baby's stomach is small so they cant be expected to hold enough milk to make them 'sleep through' when they are very young, so it also annoyed me when my little boy was under 6m when people constantly asked if he was sleeping through, and made me feel bad with the fact that he wasnt. Another thing that annoyed me was when certain people asked if he was 'good', when he was a newborn? I felt like shouting at them 'babies arent well behaved, they just let you know what they need!!' Lol xx

  • Second Time Mummy

    >I got asked yesterday if my baby was 'sleeping through' – she's 8 days old FFS – sometimes my 3 year old doesn't even sleep through the night. Every child is different – there isn't a right or a wrong but I think expecting a week old baby to go without food for a night is certainly asking a lot! xx

  • PhotoPuddle

    >You've made me feel bad now. I have been known to ask my friends how well their babies sleep but it's honestly not something I am judging them on I am genuinely interested. Also it's like Spudballoo said I am also asking how much sleep the parent themselves are getting. My daughter was only a few months old when she started to "sleep through" so I do feel "lucky" in that respect. But I do remember how badly I coped with the sleep deprivation and can't imagine it going on for years.
    I doubt people are judging you on the way your children sleep but if they are then… well sod what they think!

  • Sarah in deepest, darkest Lomellina

    >Some asking are bound to be Mummy Olympians and deserve all the book shoving you can manage. Others (bearing a faint resemblance to me) are asking cos if you say "yes, my child let's me close my eyes for more than three nanoseconds" they will be beeseaching you to impart the details that make that happen cos they are on their sixth YEAR of insomniac child and will take ideas that might work from any quarter.

    I loved co-sleeping (just as well really since I wasn't given a vote in the matter), he could latch on by himself at three months so I could at least get a whole four hours uninteruppted kip per night.

    I also liked knowing where he was (with an elbow jammed in my earhole ususally) when thunder clapped or I was convinced the burglers were outside. It felt safe, if slightly uncomfortable on occasion as his devolping knobbly bits seeked nooks and crannies of my body to ram themselves into.

    By six he was typicaly in his bed in his room, most nights all night, but he still wanders in even at ten. 9 times out of 10 it is lovely to get a cuddle cos they are not so frequantly proffered these days. Last night though I couldn't even get into bed when I went up cos he was starfished on my side, so I slept in his cuddly toy infested bed. But not well. Cos I like a "live thing" to sleep with too ( =

  • cartside

    >children are so different and I still remember how inadequate I felt when at 9 months my daughter seemed the only one still waking regularly. I now know that it's not so unusual and wouldn't doubt my choices as I did then. I had a health visitor tell me to let my baby cry it out – no way I would have done that, what with having been through hell and back with "colic".

    By the way, my formula fed niece (12 months) wakes a lot more than my breast fed daughter did. So it's not even about feeding choices but individual differences. And now that my toddler walks at night time I enjoy the nighttime cuddles I get as much as she does.

  • Emma

    >Aah, a very well timed post as I've been in tears this morning due to my lack of sleep!
    My little one is 15 months old and although he "slept trough" for a few weeks at about 9 months he never has since. I never considered co-sleeping but not because I think there is anything wrong with it, it's just not for me. I would never judge anyone else for doing it and if they were all getting sleep I'd be slightly jealous!

  • Kelly

    >I read this before bed last night and starred it to make a comment when I had the chance. It was therefore on my mind as I was up for two hours with my 13 month old!

    I would love to co sleep with him but I am afraid to say I just don't know how. This sounds so stupid, but I worry about everything. Not squashing him but isn't our bed too hot for him? We have a duvet, and pillows and when he goes between us his head goes down between the pillows. If I move him down the duvet covers him. I have tried to find more information but there is not much about. I think I need diagrams! Also, my husband is away on business a lot so then I don't like to have Piran in the bed because he could wriggle about in his sleep and fall off the side of the bed.

    I need diagrams and tips or something!

  • Babies who brunch

    >Do you know what makes me really mad? The fact that formula fed babies invariably seem to sleep better than b/f ones. The ultimate proof that there really is no justice in the world. (As if the floods in Pakistan weren't bad enough….)

  • Holly

    >Just having a bit of a giggle reading this and the comments. People are obessed aren't they? I remember when my husband's brother's then girlfriend who was about 12 asked me 'What she's like at night?' I just said " What's she like? Oh she's adorable, she's just so gorgeous". She was itching to ask if she 'slept well' but couldn't after that.

    Honestly it's the question I bloody hate. It's just so fucking pointless. Like if your baby sleeps through you are somehow doing it all right and that's the most important thing. what about 'are they putting on weight' or 'do they feed well' or 'has she smiled yet?'

    I obsess about sleep though, just see today's post, but I have nothing but admiration for mothers and would never be as patronising as to ask them about their children's sleep habits, unless they were asking my advice. And in that case I'd say all babies are different, some sleep well, some don't and there's actually very little you can do about it, but if you WANT some help then get a night nanny to give you a night off. But don't obsess over all the books and advice of 'experts' because at the end of the day (or night) it will come down to your baby's rythms and that's what makes them your baby.

    By the way, just for the record, my baby is a great sleeper, toddler is appalling. Age has bugger all to do with it in my house!


    Rant over!!


  • Muddling Along Mummy

    >Wow great comments – thank you

    Glad the general consensus is that babies don't sleep perfectly

    Mine actually sleep ok but its still the assumption that we need to 'train' them to not interfere with our nights that I dislike intensely

    Kelly – your wish is my command. Check out my next post!

  • Bittersweetmum

    >If there is one thing to learn from being a parent it's expect everything from them. My 3 yo didn't sleep through the night till 18 months old. Now she's great but tonight she was up till half nine watching Location3. I could get my knickers in a twist about it or just write it off. What makes me a happier parent?!

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