Although Vicky’s newborn sleeps well, she is experiencing anxiety and worries over what is ‘normal’. Words and photo by Vicky Geary.
I have an 8 week old baby who CURRENTLY* sleeps well at night and naps in the daytime *(I have done this parenting thing before and know better than to make statements about anything other than the present).
I have not done anything to make her do this, don’t ask me to write a book about it (!) she just arrived with an understanding of day and night and the ability to put away a serious amount of milk in the evening. I count myself very lucky that the newborn phase is, so far, not leaving me terribly sleep deprived.
I’m writing this because I found that the majority of new parents’ experiences differ very much from my current situation – the very normal experiences of babies who won’t sleep in the day unless in a sling/car/pram.
A lot of groups that I go to, courses I’ve been on etc both while pregnant and as a new mum reassure us that it is normal for babies to want to be close to their parents for security and to feed frequently due to their tiny tummies. Obviously this is correct and must be very reassuring to all the mummies surviving on little sleep. However, for me, this created anxiety (something I suffer with anyway) that my baby is somehow something other than ‘normal’ and instead of enjoying the much-hallowed hot cup of tea, I found myself fretting that my baby is sleeping too much/is possibly ill/won’t sleep tonight/isn’t forming an attachment to me because she’d rather be in her bed than on my chest.
The other, rather annoying, aspect of this anxiety is that it sometimes results in insomnia which means that although my baby sleeps well, I don’t always but find that I feel I don’t ‘deserve’ to moan about being tired when I’ve not been up trying millions of things to get my baby to sleep just staring at my ceiling wondering if she’s about to wake up.
This is something that affected me significantly with my first baby and I had some CBT which helped. Thankfully this time it’s not every night. While searching the internet for “is my baby sleeping too much” wisdom I didn’t find a huge amount other than “Lucky you! Enjoy it!” type replies and although they make a good point I couldn’t find anyone who shared or could validate the worries I had that my baby doesn’t love me or anyone who felt a horrible anxious sense of dread that the magical sleep must come to and end soon and baby would just stop sleeping as she’d crammed a year’s worth into two months.
I also felt that I couldn’t mention my anxieties at baby groups for fear of being pelted with biscuits by mums who were barely functioning due to lack of sleep. Fair enough. It was a bit of a lonely place to be though.
Since talking things through with health professionals and going on the great Fourth Trimester Course with Cheshire Parenting Collective I have learnt that the range of ‘normal’ is huge when it comes to baby sleep and as long as baby isn’t showing signs of illness it’s all good. Some babies in one review from the Infant Sleep Institute were sleeping for up to 20 hours in 24 and others as few as 8! All normal. So if you have a baby who just happens to like sleep, please do try to chill out and enjoy it. I shall endeavour to do the same. Until she starts teething…
If you are looking for information on normal sleep development, we like the Infant Sleep Information Source.