Several weeks ago, my young daughter was keeping me very busy at night – that’s not to say she wasn’t doing the same during the day, of course. But at that particular time she was, on average, getting me up around six times a night as standard.
If I’m honest, it probably wasn’t as bad as it sounds: our bodies are quite marvellous, and you absolutely – as a matter of necessity – adapt.
It had become my norm and I was used to it. Sure, it was getting me down, but I was coping – better, probably, than when she regressed suddenly from getting me up twice a night to three times.
I am part of some really fab online communities for parents. There is one in particular that fits my core values as a parent. Which, incidentally, are not the same as I anticipated they would be sans infant. I didn’t factor into my assumptions that I would suddenly feel emotions I could never have known were lying dormant, awaiting the time I became a mother. There’s no point fighting them, they’re bigger than all else and are your baby’s way of ensuring they get what they need (or more often want). NOW!
Cry it Out Yourself supports those parents who do not buy into conventional sleep training methods. But this post is definitely not positioned as a soapbox on that particular topic… I’ve no desire to provoke or offend anybody with differing values to my own. (Though should a debate evolve organically in the comments section, I will not hesitate to respond!)
Out of desperation one morning back in August, I asked a question within the above-mentioned group, and I was so overwhelmed by the response that I decided it would be a wasted opportunity if I didn’t turn the data into a post.
I’m paraphrasing, but I basically asked whether members would be willing to share the average number of times their babies wake at night, and their ages. I was curious to see whether a pattern would emerge, or if it would be as random as the time we found a crab outside our URBAN garage, ie. totally random.
The Science Bit
What follows is my best effort at analysing the many responses I received (146 babies and toddlers mentioned at last count). Please note that there were some instances where I had to discount comments that were unclear, and other circumstances in which I had to apply a degree of discretion by rounding up or down – because as we know, those babes do like to be awkward and have a tendency towards variable, unpredictable sleeping habits.
After several comments had been posted, it was suggested that it would be very intriguing to include breastfed versus formula fed details, as well as sleeping arrangements. Unfortunately, I was unable to use that information to form part of my results, since it was not provided by all who took part.
So, without further ado, I am putting on my researcher’s hat and shall endeavour to feed back the results of my Scientific Study*.
*For clarification and transparency, it’s not scientific, it’s Scientific. The difference being that ‘scientific’ is a word you will all be familiar with, such that it requires no explanation; ‘Scientific’, meanwhile, is capitalised, and therefore can be presumed a parody of the true word. Basically, I got a bit over-excited at the idea of myself as a scientist (I’m not); conducting an investigation/experiment (it was more of an inadvertent survey); and analysing the data (say d-AR-ta) to produce some graphs for my first (and probably only) ever study. For the graphs, I used my laptop and well-known spreadsheet software to create piecharts. ZING. (It’s okay to be impressed, feel free to drop me a virtual high-five in the comments below.)
As you can see, a little over one third of these babies are waking once or twice a night. But for nearly a quarter of damn-lucky parents, their babies are already sleeping through.
Do I sound envious? I’m not envious. (More sceptical as to how this is possible. A thimble of brandy or a rubber mallet are not acceptable, right? So then HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS A REALITY?!)
Here you can see that exactly half of the babies are waking at least four times per night.
Mothers rock. That is all.
Hold on, I forgot something – we also deserve chocolate and perhaps wine on your way home please, Darling. Dark and Merlot, preferably. *blows kiss*
Things begin to improve a little after 12 months. Alas, nearly half of those surveyed continue to wake once or twice, with the next largest percentage still going to those cheeky babies in the 4+ category. (We call ours a Devil Pixie. It’s kind of cute, whilst also conveying our disapproval.)
The older babes are beginning to do markedly better. However, it is worth noting that still, almost half wake once or twice per night.
Looking at the entire group of babies across all age ranges, what is immediately apparent is that each segment is almost equal.
Fascinating. But what does this mean?
The crucial bit of information that we have all been waiting for:
But really, what we parents want to know when all is said and done is this:
Is our situation healthy? Am I doing the right things? When will it end?
Essentially, is my baby normal?
Here you go, guys, this is ultimately why you read this far…
Baby Sleep Habits: What’s Normal?
I could easily have included one more piechart (they’re kind of addictive and make me feel quite academic). However, I didn’t want to go OTT with something that would come off mawkish and trite. So I’ll just say it without the imagery and allow you to conjure up a vision of joy modelled on your own family and bask in those fuzzy feelings until the baby wakes:
Percentage of babies worth the sleepless nights and exhausted days? 100%.
Do you think this survey is a true and accurate reflection of baby sleep patterns? Please comment below!
And remember, sharing is caring. Cheers!