Busting the BS About Baby Sleep

Photography: HADAS Images

By Pinky McKay

“Is he a good baby?”

If you are a new parent, you can bet your boots this will be the first question everyone and his grandmother will ask you. Get that puzzled look off your face and come up with an answer quick, smart. Tell them, “No he’s a little brat, he’s already robbing banks!” Or, “I heard him saying he wants to get a tattoo.” Maybe even, “We’re ready to list him on Ebay.” You need to create a diversion right away or you know the next question will be, “Does he sleep all night?” Whatever the hell that means to whomever is asking – eight hours? 12 hours? All damn day except when he’s eating? Some of them will tell you that feeds should be measured and timed too, as though your baby is a train who needs to be on a proper schedule so your whole life isn’t derailed and left in the shunting yard.

However you answer question number two means how much BS about baby sleep you will be bombarded with. And, just in case you have already stuffed up and are feeling confused about all the crap floating around about how your baby “should” sleep, let’s bust some of that BS. And remember, don’t let anybody “should” on you and don’t “should” on yourself. This is your baby, you know him best and unless “they” are bringing casseroles or offering to do overnighters, how your baby sleeps is none of their business. And what they think of you is none of yours!

You must start your day at 7am, whatever time your baby last fed.

If your baby woke up at say, 5am and filled his tummy, pooped his pants and finally went back to sleep at 6am, why would you wake him at 7am? Unless you are heading to work, where are you going at that time anyway (hell, most of us couldn’t find the letterbox for weeks after having a baby, let alone the car keys)?

You have two choices here that make sense – you can start your own day at 7am: Get up and have a shower (you might even have time to wash your hair) and eat breakfast or even prepare tonight’s dinner or do a load of washing while your baby sleeps. Or you can snuggle down under the covers and catch some zzzs until your baby wakes. “Don’t poke the bear” is a pretty good theory when you finally get that kid to sleep and a baby who was just fed an hour ago probably won’t be hungry enough to feed well anyway.

Babies “should” sleep in two-hour stretches during the day.

Just like all of us, babies are individuals with differing sleep requirements. Are you a snooze head who needs a ten-hour night to function and a two-hour afternoon nap? Sorry you have a baby if you need this much sleep – wake up! Nobody is going to call you “good” because you sleep so much. Or, do you buzz about all day on five or six hours sleep? If you were a baby “they” would be telling your mother to shut you in your room and ignore your protests (read: screams) until you did damn well sleep.

If you or your partner are high energy “go getters” (you are the “good” ones now), chances are, you could have a baby whose sleep needs are a bit like your own. You can spend all day in a darkened room patting and shushing like a crazy person (you soon will be) or you can get that baby up and have some fun. If you do try re-settling, give yourself a time limit, say 10 minutes. There’s no point spending half an hour getting your baby back to sleep if he only dozes off for another fifteen minutes.

Sleeping in your arms, a sling, a pram or the car is “junk” sleep and it won’t refresh your baby’s brain.

Clearly these scaremongering dicks have never been stuck at home all day so their baby can sleep while their own brains turn into scrambled eggs. Luckily you would only believe this bit of BS if it was your first kid and you didn’t have to also do school runs or get to soccer practice with your other kids. Sleep is sleep. A baby who can snooze on the move is a lot easier than one who will only ever sleep in a darkened room at home, in his safety standards-approved cot, in his own interior designed nursery.

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