You Are Nuts If You Think An Infant Should Sleep Through The Night

sleeping babeI am a raging bowl of Rage Flakes this morning after reading an article suggesting a magical new way to get your newborn to sleep through the night. Yes, I said newborn. I know what you are all thinking- “I could get my newborn to sleep through the night?! SIGN ME UP!” and I am here to tell you that this is a ridiculous and damaging notion that should not be in the head of any parent. Newborns are wired a certain way and trying to rewire them in those first weeks for your own convenience seems cruel to me and also, terribly misguided. Basically, you are nuts if you think an infant should sleep through the night.

This article from iVillage discusses a sleep book written by two pediatricians with some very strange ideas about the first weeks of an infant’s life. They suggest that by stretching your infant’s feedings to every four hours instead of every two hours that you will “train” them to wait longer during the night and to not need to eat at 2am, when it is not exactly convenient for you. I’m sorry, but I hate everything about this. A newborn, a brand new baby, needs to be fed when they want to eat- not when it works for you. These pediatricians are not talking about a 10-month old, they are talking about brand new babies and I just can’t even. The article cites an example that honestly makes me want to punch things:

US News Network Fox News looked at the program and spoke to one mum, Alyssa Russomondo who put the method to the test. She told Fox News, ”the most challenging part was stretching out the feedings. When we were trying to get it to four hours we would try taking him for a walk in the stroller to calm him down and just distract him for a little bit”.

The Docs say that the big proviso is for parents to be okay with their baby’s crying and to realise it isn’t always about hunger. ”We don’t want them to realize that every time they’re crying they need to have a bottle or a breast shoved into their own mouth. Their stomach can get used to being fed so frequently and start to expect that,” they said.

The method claims to have a 90% success rate and for new mum Alissa it worked. Her little guy was sleeping seven to eight hours a night within two weeks. Which is obviously great for her.

So let me get this straight- this woman strolled around her 2-week old baby to distract him from what was likely a very real need to eat so that she could sleep longer at night? I’m sorry, but no. Nope. Nopity no. This is ridiculous. I can COMPLETELY understand why the parent of an older baby would try something like this and I did it myself once my kids were older but a brand-new infant? As far as what this doctor says about not wanting a baby to expect food every time they cry- I can say with absolute confidence that when my kids cried and I tried feeding them, they let me know when that was not what they wanted. Babies are not like dogs where you leave a bag of kibbles open and they gorge themselves. There is no harm in assuming that a 2-week old baby with all of his other needs met might be hungry.

I am very much of the opinion that new parents need to accept the fact that sleep might be hard to come by at first. I am fully supportive of cry-it-out sleep training and scheduled feedings for older babies but with a little infant, you need to go by their cues, whether it’s convenient or not. This also might be a reason why breast-feeding doesn’t work for some women– it goes by supply and demand and if you aren’t feeding frequently enough, your supply could definitely slow down or disappear altogether. In those early weeks, milk supply is being established and by trying to go against your baby’s natural feeding cues you could be damaging the nursing relationship beyond repair.

Bottom line, if you had a baby expecting to sleep long stretches right off the bat, then you better hire a night nurse or pray you are one of the lucky ones with a baby that sleeps long stretches right away. Most of the time, that is not how it works and I think parents would do well to just accept that and stop fighting it.

(Image: Beata Becla/Shutterstock)

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