The thing about parenting is that so many people have done it.
And they are quick to offer advice that has worked for them. Unfortunately, every child is different and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for sleep issues.
While you may have the best intentions when trying to offer comfort and advice to a sleep-deprived parent, there are just some things that should not be said. Parenting an infant can be challenging enough without feeling inadequate, misunderstood, or downright judged.
Next time you are catching up with a friend or family member going through those early sleepless nights, take these phrases out of your vocabulary!
Things Not To Say To A Sleep Deprived Parent
1) “Don't worry; he'll grow out of it”
We know you are trying to provide a light at the end of the tunnel with this comment, but quite frankly, the tunnel is far too long, and that new mum is hanging on by her fingernails. Offering some far-off promise of relief feels trite, and isn't helpful!
New parents know he’ll grow out of it -- in one year, maybe two, but for this present moment, it’s hard! Better to just acknowledge that.
2) “You were like that as a baby; it's payback time now”
Not helpful. There is no way for us to go back in time and transform ourselves into quiet, non-crying babies so that our karma turns around in the present. Whether it is karmic payback or not is irrelevant. Knowing that we put our parents through the same thing does not ease our suffering!
3) “Just co-sleep so you all get some sleep”
Yes, there are many different methods that new parents can try to encourage baby to sleep. Chances are your sleep deprived friend has tried at least one or two of these, along with reading every article and book ever written on the subject.
Unless a new parent is explicitly asking you for sleep advice, don't offer it. Instead, provide practical help and support. Offer to cook them a meal, do chores, or sit with the baby for an hour so they can grab a shower or a nap.
4) “Sleep when the baby sleeps”
There was a Facebook meme that was doing the rounds a few weeks back. It said, “Sleep when the baby sleeps is good advice if you can drive with your eyes closed”.
That pretty much sums up this gem of bad advice.
While the idea of sleeping when your little one sleeps might work well for those with personal chefs, a housekeeper, and a bevvy of household staff. In reality, all new parents know that when baby sleeps, those precious moments are spent on showering, changing out of yesterday’s clothes, and cramming food into our mouths. Not to mention washing, cooking, cleaning, and brushing our teeth.
5) “Mine all slept through from birth; I don't remember having any issues”
Well lah-di-da for you!
This is possibly the most obnoxious thing you can choose to say. Bear in mind that lack of sleep creates very short fuses, and this is a trigger statement! Either you had a miracle baby, a team of helpers, were so sleep deprived you actually blocked out the first 6 months of your baby’s life, or you are just trying to make us feel bad. Regardless… just… don’t.
6) “Just leave him to cry, he’ll soon learn to fall asleep”
Again, unsolicited advice on sleep techniques will likely not go down well. Overtired mums and dads can be oversensitive, and chances are, if you can think of it, they have tried it. Leaving baby to cry himself to sleep is one technique, but it’s not for everyone, and may not be practical for some families.
7) “It might be hard now, but you’ll miss this someday”
Parents of older children that say this with a misty-eyed fondness are, quite frankly, confused. Of course, there are aspects of having babies that will be missed. The cuddles, the innocence, getting to know each other, and the quiet moments. But, the confusion, mood swings, uncertainty, and overwhelming exhaustion will be gladly left behind.
If you are feeling sleep deprived and would love some gentle advice to help you get more shut eye, then get in touch with me here at Serene Sleep. I offered tailored sleep solutions to allow everyone to have a better night’s rest. Drop me a line today.