Almost five years ago when one of my best mates had her first baby she told me how she got him to ‘sleep through the night’ at just a few weeks old. The way I have always remembered the story is that she carried out a form of sleep training based around the baby’s core night, when he was a month old. The theory goes that once baby has had this core night it is proof that they can go without food for a bigger block of time than they have been doing so previously. For example if they have slept from 12-5am on the core night, this chunk becomes their night time and you don’t feed them during these hours. It may involve crying, but you hold baby and give them comfort throughout. Over the course of the next few days, they will learn that this time is for sleeping (not eating), you then build on this over a week or two until baby is sleeping all night. In my head by six weeks old my friends son was sleeping 12 hours a night.
When I had my first daughter a year later, I was adamant that I would follow the same method and have her sleeping through really early. The day after her core night I was full of optimism, but she woke up just an hour odd into her five hour chunk and hubby & I couldn’t bare listening to her rumbling stomach and wailing for even ten minutes before I caved in and fed her. She didn’t start sleeping through every night until she was nine months old, and I often wondered how different things would have been had we not caved in.
When I saw my friend a few days after the caving incident I told her what had happened. I commended her on her iron will, and we didn’t really speak about it after that. When she had her second baby a year later, she told me she was sleep training at three weeks, and again by a month old (in my head) her baby daughter was sleeping 12 hours. In the two years since her telling me about the core night I had read several articles about how dangerous it is to let a newborn baby go longer than a few hours without food. The official advice from health visitors and midwives was now to wake the baby if they are sleeping through, as their blood sugar levels could drop to fatal levels. I really disagreed with her methods, but understood that my friend needed her own sleep to function, unlike me she is a stranger to insomnia and can’t cope on less than 8 hours a night. We are great friends, and this has been our only real bone of contention since becoming mums. I felt it was best not to talk about it, ultimately they are her children and this kind of stuff is none of my business.
She had her third baby in April, and when I saw her the other day I felt it was time to mention that perhaps training a tiny baby to sleep through the night might not be a good thing to do. She then painstakingly explained the process, and that they don’t start properly sleep through for 12 hours until they are three months old. They have the core night around a month, then you extend their chunk of sleep time by one hour per week. It turns out that our initial conversations five years ago involved some very crossed wires and I have been harbouring anxiety based around completely incorrect information all this time. I feel awful that I’ve felt badly towards her.
It’s made me realise that in life communication is key. Thank goodness all this is out in the open now and we can both forget about it!