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Why is sleep seen as such a measure of parenting success?

If I was given a pound for every time someone has asked ‘does he sleep well?’ or similar questions since Littlest was born I’d be able to stay off work for another six months (possibly…)

Everyone, including random strangers in the supermarket, is obsessed with how he sleeps

Plain and simply he sleeps like a baby – for very short periods of time before waking up and wanting milk

Somehow it feels like my ability to make him sleep for protracted periods of time is a key metric of my success as a parent and by that metric I’m doing middling to poor

Thinking back, Littler didn’t sleep through (as in from when I went to bed until about 6am-ish) until she weaned from the boob at 18 months or so, she needed me in the night and that was that, especially since I wasn’t around during the day

Littlest doesn’t sleep for a particularly long time during the day (possibly due to his very sensible worry about being accidentally flattened by an overenthusiastic cuddle from his sisters) but has settled into some sort of bed time routine and a fairly decent sleep that lets me eat dinner and have a bit of grown up time before heading to bed and some night wakings

It is what it is

But try telling that to Mrs Stranger-in-the-street who is prepared to lecture me on the need for him to go into his own bed/room/be let to cry/be read a story or whatever is the prevailing wisdom on How To Make Them Sleep

I’m of the view that some babies are good sleepers and some aren’t and that some children are good sleepers and that some aren’t – you can arm them with the skills to settle themselves over time but you cannot interfere if nature has decided they are more of a morning person or an evening one

Bigger will go to bed, fall fast asleep (providing she hasn’t got a good book on the go) but struggles to sleep past 6.30am.  Despite having had a similar approach to bed and night wakings, Littler doesn’t like to turn off at night but once asleep is impossible to wake and likes to lie in (and may have to be forcibly ejected from bed on nursery mornings and sometimes comes on the school run still in her PJs)

Who knows how Littlest will turn out?  All I know is that he’s gradually getting used to sleeping in cot, has become big enough that sometimes he can go to sleep on his own but he’s still tiny and still needs my help sometimes and needs plenty of milk during the night

Surely whether he sleeps isn’t the best sign as to the quality of my parenting?  Perhaps we could go with who has the smiliest baby – I’m fairly certain we’d be in with a chance at ace-ing that

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4 comments to Why is sleep seen as such a measure of parenting success?

  • This was a big part of my PND. I felt like such a failure as neither of my children slept though and even at 9 and 7 both wake at times during the night.

  • Surely whether a child is a good sleeper is mostly down to pure luck. And I hope you are lucky with your littlest, just as I’m hoping to be lucky with my new arrival later this year 🙂

  • My little boy has always been a great sleeper – he’s an absolute terror all day but he sleeps 7pm til 7am every day.

    What’s my secret?

    I haven’t got one! Some kids sleep, some don’t. It’s no reflection on parenting skills at all.

  • As far as I’m concerned, if you’re managing to eat at least *something* without balancing your plate on a feeding baby you are winning at parenting at this stage.

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