Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sleeping through the Night

Sleeping through the night, or more commonly referred to as STTN in the internet world, is a goal that most parents in our culture desperately desire.  What is this obsession with getting our children to sleep through the night from the day they are born?  I understand that as new parents, we want to get rest and if our child sleeps for long stretches, we will be able too.  If our child sleeps through the night, we feel like we must be great parents (when in reality, it had nothing to do with our parenting style).

Here's proof of my very own obsession with J sleeping long stretches at night:

Click to enlarge.

The above image only shows some of the "positive" feedback I received from J sleeping well when he was (check the date) 2 weeks 5 days old.  There's no way this would be a normal scenario for any child, let alone my own.  But was I proud of this fact?  Yes.  Did I want to share it with the world?  Clearly.  Was I secretively so happy that I was the one posting this status and not anyone else?  You bet!

Here are two recent status updates from other friends of mine with children under 2 months:

The comment that really kills 
me on this one is the "Good Girl!" comment.  
What, so R isn't a good girl if she doesn't sleep 9 hours?  Ugh.

This child is 3 weeks 6 days old.

Now at four months, J typically goes to sleep around 6:30 -7:30 and will sleep until 12:30, when he's up to nurse for the first time.  This is a great 5 to 6 hour stretch of which I do not reap the benefits because I stay up watching M.en and blogging doing chores.  When I do go to bed, he usually wakes up for his "midnight snack" and spends the rest of the night in bed with me and T.  After which, I can honestly tell you, I have no idea how long he sleeps/how often he nurses because I have learned to nurse while sleeping.  It's heavenly.

As I g.oogled "Sleep Through the Night," I found a multitude of websites on sleeping training.  Some legitimate, some notsomuch.  I also began reading about nighttime nursing (and/or bottle feeding) and how children so desperately need those feeding sessions to help combat SIDS, encourage attachment, and give energy for growth.  It is at night when children grow the most, so wouldn't we want them to have the energy necessary to do so?

Is sleeping through the night for our convenience or is it in the best interest of the child?  I struggle with this question myself.  Do I want J to sleep through the night?  Hell to the yes.  But not before his cute little butt is ready to.

Bottom line:  Follow your child.  When he/she is ready to sleep through the night, he/she will sleep through the night!  And if you get there at 2 months or 2 years, congratulations!

Disclaimer:  This is no way is saying that sleep training is not necessary or very important for some children.  Each child is different and will require different parenting styles and techniques.  If your child will only sleep when you implement sleep training, then that is exactly what he/she needs.  You know your child best. 

4 comments: said...

This is such a great post. More people should read this! I love the bottom line, and I love the comment about SIDS.

I've been meaning to post about sleep too. I just went to Little M's 6 month well visit yesterday and got the "talk" on sleep training from the pediatrician.

You know, next time I'm going to ask what they are so afraid of. She made it sound like she sees kids who are 2 and have behavioral disorders because they don't sleep through the night. Next time, I'm going to ask if they are really worried that kids aren't getting enough sleep and it's affecting their development or if they are just trying to shut up annoying mamas who ask their peds everything or if there is just a stigma attached to nursing through the night or cosleeping.

Not There Yet said...

I totally agree! I have been very lucky the past few weeks and O has developed his own routine sleeping anywhere from 6-9 (!) hours straight. But wouldn't you know? Last night he needed to eat every 3 hours. Must be a growth spurt. It can be hard on mama - but what are you going to do - tell your crying hungry baby no, its too early?
My approach is to take every day (or night!) as it comes. He is not waking up to spite me. His needs are what they are...

Callie said...

I love this post! You sound just like me, I was obsessed with how long Parker slept, how many times he woke up, etc. I even thought about night time weaning. He didn't actually STTN til 10 months, and it took me awhile to get over it, but in then end, I felt like I HAD to be there for him, as nursing is so much more than just nutrition for babies. He still wakes up on occasion. It is tough, but it's true-you HAVE to follow their cues. VERY well said!

Sugardrive said...

One of my littles sttn, but the other will wake up at least once. That being said, there are some nights when they are each up 2 or 3 times. It is what it is.