Updated: Aug 30
Against popular belief, a baby sleeping through the night isn't as common as parents are led to believe. And honestly, it's not a realistic expectation. Of course, there are some babies who naturally sleep well from birth and actually do sleep through the night from a very early age. But there are also a majority of babies and children who are not naturally good sleepers and need gentle encouragement to establish healthier sleep habits for optimal growth, health and development.
Professionals and family members making comments like, "is your baby sleeping through the night yet?" or other sleep consultants promising to have your baby sleeping through the night in just a few days can make us feel like failures when our babies don't sleep as well as what society excepts.
However, I'm here to normalise infant and child sleep.
Normal Infant Sleep
Did you know...
It is biologically normal for babies to need environmental stimulations to feel calm, relaxed and sleep well.
It is normal for babies and toddlers to wake at night.
It is normal for children to find comfort from a parent sitting with them until they fall asleep.
It is okay to hold your baby to sleep.
It is okay to rock your baby to sleep.
It is okay for you to breastfeed your baby to sleep.
It is okay to cuddle your baby to sleep.
It is okay to sit with your child until they fall asleep.
What YOU choose to do is okay.
And whilst it’s important to know what IS normal when it comes to infant sleep, it’s also important to know what sleep presentation falls outside the realm of normal. Because as useless are the comments around expectations of sleeping through the night, what is also equally unhelpful are the parents who are told that it's normal for babies to wake frequently through the night and they should accept this. Sorry, but excessive night wakes are NOT normal.
So, what is not normal in relation to child’s sleep?
Babies waking more than 4 times a night
Blocks of night sleep that are less than 2 hours in length
Naps which are 30 minutes or less in length
Children who are having sleep resistance
Children who are snoring, restless sleeping and mouth breathing
Chronic early morning waking
Big emotions during times of sleep
Heavy need of assistance to achieve sleep
If your child is having the above challenges with sleep, then it’s time to further explore what is going on so you can actively and accurately manage their sleep for quality improvements. Sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity, but focusing on sleep training alone will not improve your child's sleep quality.
Please don't consult with any sleep specialist who doesn't explore why your child's sleep is challenging. This is an extremely important factor and by ignoring this component altogether, you will receive slow, minimal or short-term results.
If you'd like to chat about your child's sleep to determine if it's normal or not, please book in for a 15 minute free discovery call.
My name is Shereen Nielsen and I am a certified infant and child sleep consult, working with children aged birth to 12 years. I am also a lecturer and mentor for students on their journey towards becoming a Sleep Consultant, through my on-line internationally recognised sleep consultants course.