“Is he sleeping through the night?” asks a stranger.
“She’s too clingy. You really need to stop picking her up.” says a friend.
“Is she a good baby?” asks a woman at the park.
“He should be self-soothing by now. Consolidated sleep is critical for healthy brain development.” proclaims a sleep trainer.
“You’re creating a rod for your own back.” exclaims a grandmother.
“I hope you’re putting her down drowsy but awake.” advises a mother at a meetup.
“Feed, play sleep! Feed, play, sleep!” chants a daycare worker.
“You’re not nursing him to sleep are you? That’s a bad sleep association. How do you expect him to learn to fall asleep on his own?” questions a health nurse.
“Oh, he’s just manipulating you, dear. He’s got you wrapped around his tiny eight-week-old little finger.” says a mother-in-law.
“If you don’t put your three-day-old baby down to sleep in a crib on his own you’re risking suffocation and death. It is the only way babies are safe from SIDS.” states a pediatrician.
These are the loud lies of infant sleep that our culture repeats from one generation of new mothers to the next, as if on autopilot.
Without questioning the roots or validity of these statements.
Without an understanding of the biological needs of babies.
Without knowledge of what normal infant sleep looks like.
Without an appreciation for how most cultures around the world care for their babies (and why).
These mistruths are dangerous, not only because they’re false, but because they’re full of unrealistic expectations that set a new mother up to feel like she’s failing. To doubt her own abilities. To worry that there may be something wrong with her or her baby.
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