I can’t tell you how often I’ve been asked this question in the last 14 months. There’ve even been times when meeting another mum for the first time she’s skipped the ‘hi, what’s your name and how old’s your baby” stuff and gone straight for the big question. What everyone’s really asking is, “Does your little darling sleep through the night?”
Joshi’s almost 15 months and ever since he was born he’s woken several times through the night, usually three or four, sometimes more, sometimes less. When he’s unwell or is teething it’s a whole lot more. I think our record’s around 20 times. Anyway, I’ve never felt that Joshi’s waking through the night is a problem I have to do absolutely everything in my capacity to change. Of course it would be nice to have an undisturbed night of sleep. No parent wants to be sleep deprived and we all function a whole lot better when we’re not, but that’s what babies do! They wake through the night!
According to Dr. William Sears , American pediatrician and author or co-author of more than 30 parenting books, every hour babies cycle through a state in which they’re likely to wake if there’s any arousal stimulus (teething pain, a loud of noise, hunger, separation anxiety, etc). He also says “babies sleep the way they do – or don’t – because they are designed that way for both developmental and survival benefits.” Of course this changes over time and eventually they enter into ‘sleep maturity’ as their cycles naturally change, but when this happens can vary a lot from child to child. What this means though, is that if you have a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night then you have a normal, regular, healthy baby (unless they have another medical condition that’s causing or exacerbating it).
Also, just because your baby sleeps right through the night doesn’t mean they’re a good sleeper, especially if it’s a result of the ‘cry it out’ approach. Sears has a lot of wise stuff to say about the ‘cry it out’ approach and I love the sensitivity he brings to the table. “When your baby cries, put yourself behind the eyes of your baby and imagine, ‘if I were a baby, how would I want my mother or father to react at 3am?’ You’ll always get it right.”
Anyway, I’m interested to hear from all you mammas out there who don’t practice “cry it out” … When did your baby or toddler first sleep right through the night? Do you think it was directly related to anything you did and how long was it before it was a regular thing?
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