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Sleeping through the night January 7, 2009

Posted by Judy in Musings.
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One of the questions that newish parents get asked the most is: “so is he/she sleeping through the night?” Not sure why people ask this question since it doesn’t really affect their lives at all. But ask they do. And then people feel inclined to comment when you answer, “no”. “What have you done wrong?”, etc. But I’m not here to rant about people’s nosey questions and comments.

I was talking with the parent of one of my students several weeks ago. He was asking how DD was doing and I said that she was great, a sleeper, totally different from DS who woke up 1-2 times a night till he was 14 months old. His reaction was “oh, that’s not too bad.” And I thought “what, that’s nuts, of course that’s bad!” Then I got to thinking, I wonder if the obsession with sleeping through the night is an American thing. (I should note that the parent is Nigerian.) Based on his reaction, I was led to think that it’s not so important for babies to sleep through the night in other places, places where co-sleeping is the norm, places where family is number one, places where more than one generation lives under one roof and the extended family is involved in child-rearing. When I talked to DH about it, he made a good point . . . in our society, generally both parents work outside the home, so it’s super important for them to get a full nights sleep . .. hence, the obsession with sleeping through the night. If people were staying at home, they might have more opportunity to take naps and to have grandma and grandpa help with the childcare. So I’m thinking that my student’s parent was commenting from that perspective. Interesting. I’ve decided that I’m no longer going obsess over my LO’s “sleeping through the night”. Besides, if people tell you their babies are sleeping all night, they are either 1) lying or 2) have a different idea of what “through the night” means!

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