she’s just a baby

July 22, 2016


“Is she a good baby?”

Initially when we  were asked this question following Joan’s birth I was downright confused. “A good baby?”…I would never think to ask someone this, as doing so inherently suggests that some babies are bad, which to me seemed just nuts. “Yes she’s good”, I’d reply, “I mean, she’s just a baby…..???”. Eventually I understood that people were actually asking something else, and so I would attempt to decode their question before replying. Did they mean “Is she happy?”. Well, then, “Yes!”, I would answer, “Absolutely”. Or perhaps they were associating “good” with not crying, and then the answer would be, “She cries/communicates really well, thanks, loud and clear! Most of the time we understand what she’s wanting”. Often I thought these well-meaning folk were asking whether she was good to us, her parents, and to this I would say “Yes, she’s really sweet.” I got used to the question and only occasionally (if I was a little sleep deprived and short-tempered, perhaps) I would reply “No, she’s an asshole”, which was my passive aggressive way of highlighting what a weird question it was.

Ten months on, we still get asked whether Joan is “good” by lovely people who care about us. And I still find myself confused as to why we use that wording… especially when it is closely followed by another inquiry, as to whether she is sleeping through the night. In the early weeks, when I was asked ooooh so many times if my newborn was sleeping through the night, I found myself considering that something was indeed wrong because she was still waking. These days, the questions doesn’t bother me in that sense, as I am far more confident and aware that every baby is different. These days, I am reassured and empathetic, after having read multiple articles explaining babies and their needs. These days, I have my tribe of likeminded mothers to provide support and solidarity. These days, I am sure in my heart that by responding to my baby and mothering with respect and instinct I am doing the right thing for our family. But in the early days, I wasn’t so sure, and I found myself wasting time wondering if I was spoiling Joan, “making a rod for my own back” and, here’s the kicker, “allowing her to get used to the fact that if she cries I will pick her up”…. Ummmmmm GOOD! I hope she knows I am there for her when she needs me. I wish I didn’t hesitate to feed her to sleep (which I now know is the most natural and awesome thing) or respond to her needs or “spoil her”, and I am grateful for mum friends of toddlers who reassured me to not worry about this, that when babies are ready, change will happen gently. I am already seeing this change and I am thankful and relieved that I have been present enough to enjoy this stage when Joan needs me to rock her to sleep and snuggle for hours. What a crazy awesome job I have.

And so these days, I respond to the question a little differently. When I am asked the triad of questions – if Joan is a good baby, if she’s a good sleeper and whether she wakes overnight – I reply, “Yes, she’s a really good sleeper, thanks! She sleeps in our bed with Ben and I and she’ll wake a handful of times overnight. After a quick feed we are both fast asleep again and we are all generally well-rested.” The poor folk who ask me don’t expect I will share quite so much information, but suppose I feel the need to do my part in changing the assumption that a baby who wakes is a bad baby, and that co-sleeping (when done safely, of course) is irresponsible and naughty (true story, I was called naughty one time), and that because my Joan doesn’t sleep through the night at ten months she is bad and we need to fix something. When really, all I had to do to feel blissfully content with our situation was adjust my expectations for this season of my life. I now go to bed very early to ensure I wake feeling rested. I do not have a full-time, demanding job with inflexible hours in addition to being a mother to my baby, as that in itself is a 24/7 job and I am not yet at the point when I can conceivably marry those two worlds (and thank goodness I do not have to – power to those women who do). My husband and I currently find more joy in a well-rested baby than dinners out, so we mostly pass up invitations and stay in. And we are so very happy to make these changes. Some days are slow and sleepy and we crave uninterrupted rest, but that is ok. This isn’t a bad situation. It’s a blessed one.

I am aware that when inquiring as to a baby’s sleep patterns people are only concerned for our wellbeing as parents, as sleep deprivation is a beast. However I myself am concerned that we are expecting too much of our babies, that too much emphasis is placed on whether they are sleeping through the night when in fact, biologically, they are wired to need us at night. For those of us with wakeful babies who are processing all the information they’ve learnt throughout the day and are growing and teething and practicing standing in the middle of the bed (I’m looking at you, Joan), parenting doesn’t stop overnight, and nor should it. But the amount of times new parents get asked whether their babies are sleeping through will make even the most secure person question their situation. And who decided that is the question to ask anyway? Is it because many parents go back to work when their babies are still waking and therefore to function properly it’s not uncommon to be encouraged to “train” bubbas to sleep through the night? Is it because we are all aware that by getting rid of our villages and the ability to ask for help without judgement, we are struggling to do it all ourselves? Is this why we ask about sleep in such a black or white, good or bad manner? Because we know that many parents are doing it tough and we want to fix it? I want to note that I am not referring to those who simply ask about sleep without passing judgement on the parents or baby. Inquiring as to how bubba is doing and whether they’re sleeping through the night with pure curiosity is very different to being asked this question and being “tut tutted” when you give your response (you’d be surprised how often this happens). Our current culture seems to want to rush things, sleeping through the night being just one example. We want things to be fixed and better, and while sometimes that’s ok, I’m realising that with this baby stuff, most of the time they get there on their own. We just need to give them space to figure it out without trying to wipe up the mess. I realise that am incredibly privileged to be able to be home with Joan, and moreover to work my own hours, and perhaps this is another reason why I am totally fine with ongoing wakeful nights. I know not everyone has this option, and nor does everyone desire this option – while I am a homebody, others are more ambitious outside of the home. Furthermore, while I’m here writing about the beauty of the now and encouraging others to not rush their babies nor rush through these stages of motherhood, I am very aware of the reality many face with severely wakeful babies and demanding home and work situations. Is the answer coffee? Or is it back to my thought about the village, calling on your people, if you’re lucky enough to have them…. I don’t know. I guess there isn’t a solution, we all just have to do the best we can. But in doing so, I’d love us to ease up on our bubbas a little and not demand too much of them. I also believe that whatever your situation, there is something really wonderful about surrendering, allowing yourself to embrace whatever season you’re in and letting things unfold as they should. Some may say it’s a romantic notion, but I feel like it’s key to feeling content with these “bad” babies of ours when they wake us at 3am, whether calling out across the hall from their room or hitting you in the face as they lie in bed next to you.

So, for all the mothers out there who aren’t gifted an independent baby who easily and happily solo snoozes for 12hours straight (i.e. the majority of us), let’s stop asking if our babies are “good”. It encourages negative thinking and makes us consider that something needs to be fixed when really, they’re just babies and we should let them be babies…we should let them need us, let them grow at their own pace, and let them learn independence when they’re ready, and not a moment sooner.

(Photo at the top of the piece by Kat)

Heidi xo

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  • Danielle July 22, 2016 at 9:39 am

    When you write it’s like a big sigh of relief. I think ‘ahhh she gets it!’. I never got that question either. No babies are bad, they don’t even know what bad is yet! All they know is they want you. Thanks for sharing Heidi, my bubba has been waking through the night and now your lovely words are replacement of the lost village culture we don’t have anymore, making us feel not alone and apart of a community of loving mothers.

    • Heidi July 22, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Thank you for such a beautiful, heartwarming, encouraging comment, Danielle. I love that we can create an online village for those moments when we need support x

  • Kelsey July 22, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Great post! Let me preface by saying I don’t have kids. I have not spent much time around kids. So I have absolutely no personal experience about how tough it is to be a parent – I can only imagine myself feeling overwhelmed and anxious, and so desperately wanting to do it RIGHT. (And it’s absolutely none of my business, but from your words you seem like you’re a wonderful mama)
    However, as someone without kids, I’ve asked my friends with children similar questions – “does she sleep through the night?” “she’s so sweet! is she a good baby?” – because quite honestly, I have no idea what else to ask. What else should I ask? This is not a rhetorical question! I’ve been chastised by friends for telling them their babies are cute, because they don’t want to put so much focus on looks. I feel rude asking about where there child is at developmentally, in case they feel I’m judging them or their babies.
    I genuinely want to be a supportive friend, but I don’t know what I can say or ask to be that supportive friend. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you 🙂

    • Heidi July 22, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Hi Kelsey, thanks for your comment. I so appreciate your question! You’re a great friend. Everyone is different, I guess, but I honestly wouldn’t mind the “she’s so sweet/cute!” comment because that’s true! I think with girls it is good to be sensitive to the fact that it’s important to also compliment them on attributes besides appearance – strong, adventurous, funny, kind, etc – especially when they’re older, just to help set them up to know they’re more than their appearance, as that can be difficult in our society today! As for new parent friends, I think simply asking how they are doing, whether they need anything from the shops or need any help around the house, and saying “you’re doing so well!!” is all they need. And for the bubbas I guess “what’s their favourite thing to do at the moment?” is safe. Again, you sound like such a caring friend xxx

  • Lou July 22, 2016 at 10:32 am

    This is such an amazing read! My husband I a very strong willed people, very focused have our own set of opinions and never swayed by others peoples opinions! Nothing phases us and we are going to do whatever we’re going to do, in work, life, travel, spending money etc. We don’t follow “the crowd”.
    Buttttt currently, we are 6 months into parenthood anddddd the biggest shock to us is that we question everything we do with our baby girl, because the people around us ask us stupid ##%*ing questions like you’ve pointed out above! We tried 10 mins of “control crying” ONCE because we were supposed to be “letting her cry it out”, We gave her “baby porridge” ONCE because “she must be starving that she’s no longer sleeping through the night” …….. But after reading your article Heidi, we’ve got our confidence back again…. My husband and I just both read it… And we have made a pact that it’s “what feels right for us” nooooooo more letting people question our parenting (unless of course we’re doing a Michael Jackson and hanging our baby over the balcony, then I hope that intervene!)… Have been following you for many years, love your writing but today I thought I’d let you know you’ve given us a boost! We Can Do This and We are going to do it our way and what’s right for our family and our baby girl!!
    Thank you xx

  • Heidi July 22, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Oh gosh, that makes me SO happy! YES! You two have this down, you know what’s best for your bubba and for you as parents. Major fist pumping in the air happening over here 🙂 Much love! xx

  • Eugenia July 22, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Amazing read! Thank you!! My son is 10 months old and like Joan wakes a handful of times but after a quick breast feed we’re back to sleep and fine with it. People have actually made me feel embarrassed and as though I’m doing something wrong by not sleep training my son but in my heat this just doesn’t feel right. I even lie to people sometimes about it. This saddens me as my son is incredible and I’m so blessed to have him. I know when I’m an old lady on my death bed I’ll wish I could lie with my baby son in the middle of the night and not be wishing I’d had more sleep. Your post is so refreshing. Thank you again 😊

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Lovely to hear, Eugenia. And nope, you won’t regret it one bit! x

  • Avril July 22, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Love this post. The good baby question is just odd isn’t it? I’m so greatful that this time I’m happy to just let Bub be bub – it goes sooo quickly (& then you have teenagers and that is so much more complicated – no hugs & breastfeed to make it all better there ) So I’ve valued this time with Bub because it will be over so soon. As for a village or tribe I have longed for one this time around…and have even less than I did the first times. Certainly makes it a lonlier process when there are only two people really interested in bub.
    But yes- the good baby question should go the way of “seeing the baby” (ugh – she’s a person – meet her by all means but – you get the gist ) Brilliant post. Incoherent comment. Tired mum of teething bub. Sorry

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:16 am

      So very coherent, I get you & agree! Thanks, lovely x

  • Jodie July 22, 2016 at 10:45 am

    I’m not great with words, so i’m just going to thank you for writing this. X

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Perfect, thank you, Jodie x

  • Autumn July 22, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I love this piece, I have struggled at times with our wakeful children and coming up to five years of broken sleep (split over two children) but our house is happier and calmer now that my husband and I have just accepted that both our children need to be close to us at night at this stage of their little lives. Our five year old will sleep through from 7-7 in the comfort of parental company and our 18 month old still wakes over night but usually resettles quickly if we bring him into bed. Accepting our children’s temperaments and the knowledge that things will change when they are ready has made things much easier!

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Accepting their temperaments & needs is something I don’t think we are encouraged to do enough in those early days when we are being “educated” on sleep and such. I’m lucky enough to have received some wonderful advice, but I also received awful advice too, from professionals. Not enough focus was put on the baby and their wellbeing, it felt all about me! Which is important too, of course, but why are we encouraged to be so harsh on our bubbas? x

  • Jing July 22, 2016 at 11:45 am

    This is exactly what I needed to read to get me through a wet and miserable morning.

    Thank you!

    ps I’m not sure why there’s the expectation for babies to sleep uniterrupted for 12 hours when most adults don’t ‘sleep through’? We get up to use the bathroom, get a drink of water and do whatever else we feel the need for which is exactly what babies are doing when they wake up!

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:25 am

      It’s absolutely bonkers, hey?! x

  • Teri July 22, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Heidi, an honest, heartfelt and beautifully written post. As a mom who has passed the baby stage (I will be honest and say I am glad the Groundhog Day of sleepless nights is over) I would take it one step further to say we should stop asking if any child is good, whatever age or stage. You will discover as you go through motherhood that every stage will have its joys, trials, elations and tribulations. If anything, I feel that as my kids grow up and discover more about the world, their place in it and their ever- growing independence, that they actually need me (and their dad!) more so than ever. I feel my desire to comfort them, support them and help them grow gets stronger every day. Whilst that doesn’t mean they grow up without boundaries, respect or empathy for other people, what it does mean to me is that whatever stage of physical, mental or emotional growth my children are at, neither them or myself as a parent will ever be “good” or “bad”. It just means that I will trust them to show me what they need and I will do my very best to always assure them that they can count on me, no matter what.

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Beautiful, Teri. And things I have not thought of. Those days seem so far away but I know they will creep up on me. In having kids, our hearts become open and raw, and as they grow and take on the world I can imagine that it makes our hearts even more vulnerable. x

  • Ros July 22, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I too think it’s ridiculous to ask if a baby is good or not but I really do think it’s some people’s way of asking if we’re managing ok with the life change of having a baby rather than suggesting the baby is somehow bad. Like adults, they are all unique individuals with different needs and personalites and as parents our situations and methods are all different too.
    I might be weird but I (mostly) loved the night feeding as it was a beautiful quiet time for me and Bub and I knew that phase would finish all too soon…and it did. I’ve always needed by own space in bed so used a bassinet then cot with plenty of cuddles and falling asleep on me quite often too. I also need routine for my own sanity and returning back to work when my bubs were each 6 months old I was happy to encourage my babies to sleep independently when they showed that they were ready, my son earlier than my daughter. Comfort feeding is so lovely and at 18 months my daughter still has a feed on waking each morning for a few minutes even though I was told long ago she doesn’t need it anymore, but she loves it and the comfort and bonding time works for us. Through the night, a rare wake up is settled with patting or a cuddle. Both my children know I’m close by if they need me but mostly they will sleep through and are happy and well rested as a result. It works for us.
    One thing I won’t do is judge another mum as we are all doing our best and finding what works for us and our little ones. There are no instructions and even if there were it wouldn’t work for everyone. I think comments from well meaning people around us shouldn’t be taken too seriously. People will always have something to say and sometimes not think much before speaking but usually mean well. The confidence that comes with time is really refreshing as you know when to seek help, where to get support and when to ignore the advice and follow your instinct. Mine has not been wrong so far 🙂

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:32 am

      I agree, Ros, it always means something else and encompasses a general interest in how we are doing. I am still surprised, however, that it is not more accepted that babies wake and there’s nothing wrong with that. Night feeding is a pretty special thing, it makes me happy that you loved it. I am following Joan’s signs and will be ON it when she shows me she is ready, trust me haha. Amen to not judging. We need empathy and support, and avoiding questions that make parents worry that what they are doing is wrong, or comparing baby to baby. Trust those instincts! x

  • Tilly July 22, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Great post Heidi, thank you! I have a daughter who has just turned one – she’s still breastfed and waking lots over night, but we’re both quite content (mostly!) with the current situation… But it’s sometimes tricky to know if you’re doing the right thing when everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter (and want to tell you what you should be doing!).

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:34 am

      It comes from a place of caring but honestly the best thing to do can be simply to say “Sounds tough, I’m here for you! You’re doing so great!”, rather than rushing to fix things (unless of course it’s a desparate situation) x

  • Deirdre July 22, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Lovely post Heidi, I feel a twinge of sadness every time someone asks if my beautiful baby is “good”, of course she is good! How could anything so beautiful and innocent be bad?! I also co-sleep and breastfeed and, horror of horrors…..let her nap in my arms during the day! It all feels so natural to me but somehow I feel if I mention these things people still tut tut and start the “spoiling” conversation! Glad to hear another mum speak up! Thank you 🙂

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:35 am

      High five! It’s such a shame we get the “tut tut”. Truly. I’m kind of baffled by it x

  • Sneha July 22, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Heidi, this is absolutely my story. My daughter is also 10 months. Being a new mum and surrounded by an overwhelming amount of information about what babies ‘should’ be doing in terms of sleep and feeds, there were times early on where I felt that I perhaps should be doing things differently because my baby didn’t fit the criteria of what babies her age should be doing. She fed quite frequently, sometimes every hour (mainly because I have almost always fed her to sleep and when she was younger she slept often!) and still wakes a handful of times at night (luckily not as much as before), but a quick feed and she’s settled back to sleep. Like you, we co-sleep. When she naps, I often just hold her or lie next to her- she just sleeps better and stays asleep longer when I am around. I find myself responding quite defensively when asked whether she sleeps through the night! It doesn’t bother me because I still get plenty of sleep, doesn’t matter that I get woken up for maybe 10 minutes every few hours- doesn’t make by baby a bad baby! We, as a family, are so much happier doing things that come naturally to us without referring to guide books! We also baby wear (Ergo 360, just like you!) and she loves it. She’ll stay in there happily for ages but in the pram she may last only 15 minutes tops. Like Joan, she’s also not great in the car unless someone sits with her at the back.

    Anyway, sorry for the long rant- it’s just nice to know we’re not the only crazies doing things differently 🙂

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:37 am

      Oh gosh all the “shoulds” we are showered with!! So damaging. I had a wonderful maternal & child health nurse say re feeding & baby-wearing & sleeping that if it’s working for you & bubba & parents are happy, that’s great. When it’s not, THEN look to change things. Best most encouraging advice. Sounds like we have very similar daughters 🙂 x

  • Caitlin Boulware July 22, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    So good!!! That question has always puzzled me as well. Thanks for freeing moms and helping us relax and enjoy our kids.

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Awe thanks, Caitlin x

  • Elsa July 22, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for this post Heidi. My bub is a very hungry 8 week old & I suspect will continue this way for quite some time yet. I’ve had people I barely know automatically assume his waking through the night is a problem & offer unsolicited advice about moving to formula. The funny thing is that being woken through the night by my gorgeous boy is not stressful. In fact, having him as meant a break from a stressful job that used to cause plenty of insomnia – which made me feel far less happy & rested than I feel now. So that’s become my response to the “how much sleep option” – it’s better than work stress and insomnia! (Plus the smiles & laughter I get from my healthy well fed bub is worth every bit of interrupted sleep!)

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:39 am

      The moving to formula encouragement so they sleep more solidly is very curious. If they’re breastfeeding well that is ridiculous advice. Glad you’re enjoying this special time with your bubba x

  • Liz July 22, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Great post Heidi! I always struggle when people ask if my Bub is good sleeper, because he is a great sleeper, but he didn’t sleep through the night yet, which is what people meant. It is so nice when we as mums start to feel that confidence to be comfortable in what our normal is…it took me a while. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it was beautifully put.
    Ps. Someone called Henry naughty for waking 3hrly, he was 8 weeks old, at the time thought I must be doing something wrong, crazy!

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:40 am

      That is outrageous, Liz. Naughty? Actually makes me mad. & yep, I often say “yes she’s a great sleeper!” and “no, she doesn’t sleep through”. People cannot marry the two 😉 x

  • Hannah July 22, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Look at all these people you’re helping give calm breaths and solidarity to xoxo

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Beautiful lady x

  • M July 22, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Beautifully written but I wonder if this is what’s creating what I think is a growing divide between people with children and people without children? When I (a person with no kids) ask friends or co workers if their babies are sleeping through the night, I think I am being friendly and showing that I care and I certainly never think that question could be construed any other way. To be completely honest, I don’t think anyone will ever care about your baby as much as you do, so I never thought someone would think there’s an ulterior motive to my question or that I’m somehow saying their baby or their parenting is lacking!

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:50 am

      Great point, M! I suppose I never thought about the divide b/w people with children and those without. Indeed it is absolutely hard to know what it’s really like unless you do have kids, and as you said, no one will ever care about your baby as much as you. To be honest, I am referring to people that HAVE had kids and ask these questions (they should know better!), and moreover the health professionals that give advice to not rock or feed your baby to sleep and talk about sleep training when babies are just weeks old. New parents are incredibly vulnerable to what is normal & whether they’re doing things right, it’s hard to tune it out and trust your instincts & trust that these “bad habits” we are told we are creating are not going to curse us forever. What I’m hoping is that there is less emphasis on babies being “good” or “bad” if they sleep through, rather that they are just babies doing what babies should and that provided you’re providing a nice sleep environment and they’re happy babies, it’s ok if they wake on occasion and they do not need to be sent off to be “trained”. I would not be offended if a friend who didn’t have kids asked whether a baby is sleeping through the night (or even one who did have kids), it’s the advice or “tut tutting” that can come afterwards that offends me. I’d like greater acceptance that babies are just babies and parents don’t need to think that what’s happening is wrong or needs fixing if they wake a little and need some love. In most cases, they get there in their own time and I wish we could have greater acceptance of the fact that this is simply a season and it’s ok to be tired (excluding extreme, ongoing, distressing circumstances, of course – I’d encourage people to get support in those cases). SO, long answer, sorry, if you were to ask me that (as my friends also have!) I’d simply say “Nooooooo, no way haha.” and move on without being offended. Does that make sense? x

      • Sasha September 12, 2016 at 6:46 pm

        I just wanted to mention how much the question about “sleeping through the night” changes dependent upon who is asking. (I’m echoing some of what you’ve said already, Heidi). When a childless friend asks, it feels like friendly concern/curiosity. When a fellow parent, especially a parent with a slightly older child asks, it feels like a leading question and to be honest, most of the time it is. Unfortunately, there seems to be a real divide between people who feel okay about sleep training and people who don’t (although I don’t think there has to be. Even though I don’t feel it is a good choice for my daughter, I don’t judge those who choose otherwise. Unfortunately people who choose otherwise often seem to feel really uncomfortable with my choice!).

        Heidi, I REALLY appreciate how you have articulated your thoughts and decisions around sleep and what works best for Joan and your family. It validates me and help me have confidence to stay my own course!

  • Angel July 23, 2016 at 12:14 am

    Thanks for this beautiful post Heidi! I want today amen to every single sentence you wrote. Very reassuring, encouraging and empowering. My bubba is 15 mo old and she’s sleeping waking up at night & sleep in our bed. Ppl think I’m overdoing it bc I’m still nursing her. But I can already see she’s gradually weaning and doesn’t need me as much. I don’t want this time of closeness pass too fast and I started to realized that it’s such a privilege to be needed and to be this close to another human being who completely depend on you and trust you. Keep up with the good work mama <3

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:51 am

      So true. When they’re ready, they get there! Beautiful, thanks for sharing x

  • Molly July 23, 2016 at 7:07 am

    Beautifully put!!!! Love it. We do need to slow done and let children develop at their own pace. Love it!!! 😍

    • Heidi July 23, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Thanks, Molly! x

  • Alice July 23, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Oh dear, I’ve asked this before. But honestly my only intention was to invite the parent to tell me about their baby, & all the new parents I’ve spoken to have gone into great detail about their baby’s sleeping habits and their own sleep deprivation, so I thought that was a topic they were keen to discuss/vent about. But I will certainly be using different words now that I know it can offend!

    • Heidi July 24, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Hi Alice, I didn’t want to imply that people kindly asking as a general discussion point/taking an interest in the bubba are doing anything wrong. It’s when the question is accompanied by the implication that the baby is doing naughty things and the parent is creating bad habits, and that you need to fix the waking…THAT is what I am meaning and what gets parents worked up. There’s a big difference! I’d never be offended by what you say you ask new parents x

      • Heidi July 24, 2016 at 12:29 pm

        I just added in a note in the text to explain this more, that I’m not referring to the type of question you ask. Thanks for the prompt to do so, Alice x

  • Sarah M July 24, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Thank you Heidi. Our babies need our love and empathy, not to be rushed into fitting into a perceived ‘normal’ .
    Now that my baby is no longer so wakeful, I’m thankful that I didn’t rush her along, and I cherish the memory of those warm, dozy night feeds and the feeling of her heavy, milky weight in my arms. Hugs X

    • Heidi July 26, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Beautiful beautiful beautiful. Thank you, Sarah x

  • Steph G July 26, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Thank you for your continuing honesty and transparency related to raising a baby. It’s hard! We ended up sleep training our son at 6 months (after co-sleeping for the first part of his life) because I was back at work and struggling with multiple wakings every night (and our son had reflux, which meant that we would have to hold him upright for half an hour after a feeding). Once he got the hang of falling asleep on his own, which was his only struggle, and we figured out how to provide him enough nourishment during the day, he did start sleeping through the night – but it took the addition of a dreamfeed to get him there. I always respond to him in the night when he needs me, but don’t have to go through the holding-my-breath-while-lying-him-down desperation that I did before. I never thought I could do it emotionally, and it was hard for all of us, but a rested baby made for a rested family and everyone has been much happier since. The most important thing is to always do what works best for YOU and YOURS!

    In regards to being asked about babies sleeping through the night, it frustrated me at first, too. And then I realized that it isn’t always a commentary on the *baby,* but a question more geared at how the parents are holding up. Babies waking is considered pretty normal. It’s more about how WE are dealing with it, are we rested, etc. Or at least that’s how I chose to interpret, given the choice!

    • Heidi July 26, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Glad you’re all feeling well rested & not holding your breath anymore, Steph! Who knew they needed so much help with sleep? And I so agree, it’s absolutely a question as to how the parents are holding up. I was definitely not able to see that in the early days though, and I was utterly confused as to why people kept asking me. I know many babies who are wakeful and “untrained” beyond 6 months, and the reactions we get when we’re honest are not all that encouraging. Hoping this dialogue does a little to change that! x

  • Keryn July 27, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    So nice to hear I’m not alone with my 9 month old waking 2-3 times a night and only placated with a breast feed. In exhausted, but being my third baby, I know it doesn’t last forever. I agree with going to bed early, not taking on too much and nights in instead of out are the best way to manage it. I’ve always hated when people ask if my baby is ‘good’ or is he ‘sleeping through the night’, thanks for articulating it in such a gentle way.

    • Heidi July 28, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      Thank you, Keryn. Power to you x

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  • Kate July 28, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Beautiful post Heidi. I’m happy to see that you recognise that your approach is simply not possible for all families and you are in a lucky position. I have a 3-month year old who is extremely wakeful. Of course I wouldn’t expect sleeping through the night at this age, but as well as several loooong feeds (at least 40 mins, usually 1.5 hours once I’ve added in nappy change, burping and getting him down again) overnight he also resists naps in the day, and will only submit if I’m walking around with him in the baby carrier. All this (plus insomnia which is a longstanding problem for me) means that I’m getting only 4 hours max of broken sleep each night. My husband travels a lot for work and I have no choice but to go back to work full-time myself in 4 weeks. So we are desperately trying to find a way to get him to nap and sleep longer and independently. Much as I’d love to be able to follow a similar relaxed approach to yours, it’s just not possible for us sadly.

    • Heidi July 28, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Kate. I feel for you! That is a really hard situation to be in. A husband that travels is hard too. I salute you! Sending love and strength and hoping that going back to work goes as smoothly as possible. Easier, more rested days are just around the corner! X

  • Jen July 28, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    This is just beautiful, in so many respects. Beautiful because it shows just what a loving mum you are. Beautiful because of your ability to live in the now, and to take what is and find the beauty in each moment. And I think also beautiful because it shows through the comments that everyone is just doing their best. My god, parenting is hard. And friendship and caring is hard. I think whatever route (most!) parents take they are doing it out of love and wanting to give their child all they can for as long as they can.
    But there is so much judgement out there that so many times people ask questions or hold more firmly to their own convictions out of insecurity. The compassion you showed to Joan’s needs, we also need to show to ourselves as parents. They are just babies, and we are ‘just’ parents… everyone is learning. And doing it with love.

    • Heidi July 30, 2016 at 8:34 am

      Jen what a beautiful point! everyone is learning and doing it with love, we need to show ourselves compassion too – absolutely! Thank you x

  • Maxine July 29, 2016 at 5:01 pm


    I read this with tears in my eyes, nodding all the way! I needed to read this to be reassured that we are doing ok.

    Our little monkey is almost 10months and although she goes to sleep in her crib at 7.30pm until about 2-3am, when she wakes up and wants company… I find that cuddles, snuggles and moving to the spare bedroom to co-sleep in my arms (safely) with her until 5-7am to be the only solution for a little bit more shut eye for all of us concerned. Especially since I have been back at work full time (since she was 3months old) and my husband works in a restaurant at night and only gets to bed around 2-3am. It isn’t an ideal situation – but it is a solution that works for us currently. When I tell people, they *tutt-tutt* as if I am doing this wrong and that (in your own words) am making a “Rod for my own back”. I tried CIO once… she cried for 1hr20min… and I cried too. It was too emotionally wrecking to repeat – so instead, I sit with her until she falls asleep each night. Sometimes it takes 20min, sometimes it takes an hour… So be it…. at least she goes to sleep without having a melt-down first… which I would think would make for some pretty bad dreams for anyone.

    And why is it that the first question that people ask is: “Is she sleeping?”?? I, too, realize that 99% of people ask out of genuine concern or as a way to allow me as a parent to talk about her – but I still hate the question because the fact that she isn’t sleeping through makes me feel like a failure as a parent and no ones likes to feel like what they are doing is less than perfect. Now I just respond “she isn’t, but she is happy. And I would rather have a happy baby who doesn’t sleep, then an unhappy baby who does.”. The more I say that – the more I am ok with our sleeping arrangement!

    Keep writing… I love it

    • Heidi July 30, 2016 at 8:38 am

      Thank you, Maxine! It sounds like you’re doing so well, what a beautiful set up, responding to your bubba with love and empathy. How lucky she is. It’s completely temporary too, one day you’ll not have to do this and you’ll be thankful you savoured the snuggles. In fact, for working mothers I expect co-sleeping for part of the night rather than battling (if that’s what bubba wants) makes even more sense! You need to do whatever it takes to keep you all happy and rested. Power to you. And yep, it’s hard isn’t it. I don’t ask about sleep now simply because of my experience and that very reason. It is only asked with love, but indeed, why the emphasis? x

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