Pressure to be ‘perfect’ sees parents lie about children’s sleeping habits
Exhausted mums and dads are lying about their children’s sleeping habits due to pressure to be seen as perfect parents, a survey claims.
It reveals that less than half of parents (45.8 per cent) say that their child never wakes in the night, with around one in ten (11.1 per cent) getting up three or more times.
Parenting website Netmums, which questioned almost 11,000 parents, said the findings showed that 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 per cent) have lied about how well they are coping with sleep deprivation, the survey says.
It reveals that a third of parents (36 per cent) say their baby did not sleep through the night by the time he or she was a year old, with only one in four (25.7 per cent) saying their baby slept through by the age of three months.
The poll found that the most popular way for families to get children to sleep was to use set routines (38 per cent), while one in five parents has resorted to driving a youngster around in a car to get them to nod off, Netmums claimed.
The parenting website also revealed the dangers of sleep deprivation for new parents. Parents 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 that some parents are seeking help with sleeping problems. One in five (21.2 per cent) has gone to a health visitor, a similar proportion (20.2 per cent) has asked advice from family and friends, and others have gone to GPs, parenting websites, read books or asked child psychologists and sleep specialists for help.
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.”
The research also revealed Britain’s favourite bedtime is between 7pm and 7.30pm, with more than a third of children getting tucked up in bed at this time, followed by one in five between 7.30pm and 8pm.
However, one in 33 families does not put youngsters to bed until 9.30pm or later, while a further 3 per cent admit they do not have a set bedtime – leaving children exhausted.
Popular bedtime routines include a goodnight kiss, a pre-bed drink and a bedtime story.
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