Monday, May 19, 2008

Sleeping through the night

Anthropologist Kathy Dettwyler has a neat commentary on her website on the subject of Sleeping Through the Night:

No doubt about it, the gap between what our culture teaches us to expect of the sleep patterns of a young child (read them a story, tuck them in, turn out the light, and not see them again for 8 hours) and the reality of how children actually sleep if healthy and normal, yawns widely.

But the first steps to dealing with the fact that your young child doesn't sleep through the night, or doesn't want to sleep without you is to realize that:

  • (1) Not sleeping through the night until they are 3 or 4 years of age is normal and healthy behavior for human infants.
  • (2) Your children are not being difficult or manipulative, they are being normal and healthy, and behaving in ways that are appropriate for our species.

Once you understand these simple truths, it becomes much easier to deal with parenting your child at night. Once you give up the idea that you must have 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night, and view these nighttime interactions with your child as precious and fleeting, you get used to them very quickly.


Erin said...

How funny, I was just talking to a mom of a 15 month old, and telling her that kids really don't start sleeping through the night until 4 years old. That age just came from my personal experience with four kids. She was very stressed out about it. It really does get better when we just realize its normal.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for that post. I am a mother (& attorney too)and totally agree with you.