If you look up baby sleep requirements in a parenting book, you will likely find a table like this:
Total sleep time required over a 24-hour period
• Newborn…….16-17 hours
• 1-6 months….15-16 hours
• 6-12 months…14 hours
• 1-2 years…..13-14 hours
What they don’t tell you is that baby sleep researchers are forced to base their estimates of average sleep requirements on “best guesses” and that baby sleep norms vary greatly from culture to culture, study to study.
Now don’t get me wrong, these “best guesses” can be very helpful. They can feel reassuring and they can help flag some of the many other issues that could be altering your baby’s sleep (the true issue needing attention) like Reflux. Digestion. Constitution. Gas. Colic. Tongue Tie. A high palate. An improper latch. Milk supply. And so on, and so on. Here’s the deal. Norms and charts are all fine and good if you:
1) take them for what they are, averages based upon the limited data collected in order to make the assessment (not your child)
2) are NOT dealing with sleep problems.
If you are dealing with sleep problems, worries and/or big concerns about your baby’s health, it’s time to dig deeper.
My advice to parents is this: read the studies, look at the charts, ask your best friend and neighbor… and then let ALL the information you collect filter down through you. Your higher self. Your mommy intuition and wisdom.
You know your child. You know your family. You and only you are uniquely connected to this little one because YOU are MOM or co-mom or dad or maybe even Grandma. Your title, age or even your male or female-ness do not matter. If you are this one’s mother, you know it. Step into your mommy intuition. Your love and connection to this child gives you a degree no one else in the world holds. Not the researchers. Not the sleep coaches. Not even your mother in law.
This may sound hypocritical given I am a sleep consultant. But it is not. My role might be better understood if I went by Suzanne Tucker, Baby Sleep Intuition Supporter or Suzanne Tucker, Mommy Listener/Cheerleader Such That Baby Sleeps.
Because here’s the thing.
There is no manual, except the one that exists within you. Not on baby sleep. Not on potty training. Not on where to send your child to school or how to love them best.
Open yourself to your mommy intuition to guide you as you take in sleep data… or any data. What is relevant to you will make itself known. Watch for the sparks — an inner “knowing” from somewhere deep inside yourself that says, “Yes!!! This is important for my child.” or “That’s what I thought!!!” or maybe “This is worth a try. It feels right for me/my baby.”
Here is an example of how easy it is to misread research and worry because you fear your baby is not fitting into the “mold”.
Imagine you have a one month old baby who sleeps 12.5 hours per day. They are happy. They are gaining weight. You are in a grove and no it’s not easy but yes, you genuinely feel your baby is thriving. UNTIL your best friend (or doctor or mother in law or someone else) tells you they are not. They tell you your baby “should” be sleeping more. That the books say 16 hours is normal. They have you worried, but do you have cause to worry?
Let’s take a close look at the data behind the averages behind the charts in the books, for example, this study, one of the most complete baby sleep charts, published in the highly respected medical journal, Pediatrics, based on the average sleep times associated with 493 Swiss children tracked from birth (Iglowstein et al 2003). Over a 24-hour period, total sleep time averages were as follows:
Or said another way, the average total sleep time for 493 Swiss one month old babies worked out to be between 14-15 hours. One hour less than what your friend told you was “normal”. But look closer. Only 50% of the babies actually got between 13-16 hours. ONLY 50%!!!!! 96% got between 9-19 hours. Let me put it to you visually:
Never give your power away.
Never. There’s a lot of information out there, but it is worthless without you and your mommy intuition filter to make sense of it all. You are this one’s mom and this is not a thing to be taken lightly. Step into your power. Listen with all of your senses. Your baby is talking to you. Source support. Quiet your mind. Follow your heart. Average is not what your baby needs. You are.
When we follow our bliss, tune in and trust, anything and everything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because everything is BETTER when we are holding hands. Let’s share on twitter, facebook and pinterest too because the manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!!!
Iglowstein I, Jenni OG, Molinari L, Largo RH. 2003. Sleep duration from infancy to adolescence: Reference values and generational trends. Pediatrics 111(2): 302-307.