Under-pressure parents lie about child sleep patterns: survey

Exhausted mums and dads are lying about their child’s sleeping habits due to pressure to be seen as a perfect parent, a survey claims.

It reveals less than half of parents (45.8%) say their child never wakes in the night, with around one in ten (11.1%) getting up three or more times.

Parenting website Netmums, which questioned almost 11,000 parents, said the findings showed the pressure to be a perfect parent is so great that around a third of parents admit lying about their youngster’s sleep habits.

This includes lying about the time their child goes to bed or wakes up, when their youngster first slept through the night and how well their son or daughter sleeps.

A further three fifths (61.7%) have lied about how well they are coping with sleep deprivation.

It reveals a third of parents (36%) say their baby did not sleep through the night by the time they were a year old, with only one in four (25.7%) saying their baby slept through by the time they were three months old.

The poll found the most popular ways for families to get children to sleep was to use set routines (38%).

One in five parents have resorted to driving a youngster around in a car to get them to go to sleep, according to the Netmums survey.

The website also revealed the dangers of sleep deprivation for new parents. Mums and dads reported incidents such as starting kitchen fires by putting sterilising equipment on the hob because they were over tired, while others said they had collapsed and been hospitalised.

But the poll found some parents are seeking help with sleeping problems. One in five (21.2%) have gone to a health visitor, a similar proportion (20.2%) have asked advice from family and friends and others have gone to GPs, parenting websites, read books, or even asked for help from child psychologists and sleep specialists.

Netmums health visitor Maggie Fisher said: “Sleep is key to health — for both parents and children. Without adequate sleep, parents can feel they are struggling to cope, be at risk of depression or see their relationship suffer.

“While many so-called parenting gurus are well-meaning, they can set unrealistic expectations of babies’ sleep patterns, and when children don’t follow it, parents feel like failures and are convinced they are doing something ‘wrong’.

“This research shows there is no ’one size fits all’ solution to children’s sleep. Different approaches work for different families and even different children within the same family.”


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