I have mixed feelings about this comment. Whilst many parents feel comforted by the fact that their child’s sleep habits may be ‘normal', in many cases this can actually be a very unhelpful comment.
You see, parent instincts are always right. If you feel like your child’s sleep habits are out of the realm of normal, you are probably right. And when you go to search for answers so you can understand and appropriately manage the issues, you are left with ‘oh, that’s normal’. This makes you feel confused, frustrated or even that you are imagining things!
I remember as a new first-time Mum, I was forever told that my son’s sleep and behaviour was ‘normal’.
He’s crying for 5 hours straight a day?! Oh, that’s normal! It’s just colic.
He is losing weight?! Oh, that’s normal! Just switch to formula.
He has reflux?! Oh, that’s normal! Here’s some medication.
He doesn’t sleep?! Oh, that’s normal! Look up ‘the 4th trimester’.
He’s waking frequently at night?! That’s normal! Look up the 4 month sleep regression.
He’s catnapping?! Oh, that’s normal! He will outgrow it.
I have some big news…these things aren’t normal! Are they common? Perhaps, but common does not equal normal. You can probably understand that these people who say, ‘that’s normal’ are very well-meaning but it doesn’t make your situation any better. If anything, I find it can make it worse.
I mean, if sleep is THIS hard, why would anyone have more than one child?!?! And then you start thinking…’what am I doing wrong’!?!?!
But the answer is, you’re not doing anything wrong. This is not your fault. What you need is answers…REAL answers to understand why your child is having sleep challenges so you can truly resolve it with success and long term results.
So next time someone says, ‘that’s normal’ but you don’t think it is, please keep searching. And if no-one will listen, trust that I will. I will LISTEN to you, I will be your advocate and understand that your situation doesn’t always equal normal.
My name is Shereen Nielsen and I am a certified infant and child sleep coach and a Doula, training at the Doula Training Academy. If you would like more information about my services please contact me: