PARENTS
05/13/2019 15:16 EDT | Updated 05/13/2019 15:17 EDT

Is Royal Baby Archie A 'Good Baby?' Why That Question Is Toxic To Parents

A viral post calls out reporters for asking if the new royal baby is a good sleeper.

Dominic Lipinski / WPA Pool via Getty Images
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose with their newborn son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle on May 8, 2019 in Windsor, England.

In between camera clicks and coos during the first peek at wee baby Archie last Wednesday, an interviewer asked new parents Meghan Markle and Prince Harry a seemingly innocent-enough question. But sighs could be heard from tired-AF parents around the world.

"Is he sleeping well? Good baby?" the reporter asked of the two-day-old newborn.

Meghan, to give credit where credit is due, managed not to snap back, "No, he's a real jerk," but instead demurely replied, "Yes, he has the sweetest temperament."

But, as a viral social media post points out, she would have been well within her right.

Who just sighed at the interview with Harry and Meghan and their new baby when the reporter asked this question? . This is possibly one of the most toxic questions we ask new parents. It sets up incorrect expectations, places undue pressure on the parents and perpetuates myths and misunderstandings about baby sleep. . Babies do NOT sleep 'well' - or correction, babies do not sleep like adults. They are MEANT to wake very regularly (by regularly I mean multiple times per night, hourly waking is not uncommon). They need to feed often, receive bodily contact from their parents (ie hugs) and frequent waking protects them against SIDS. Throughout the whole of the first year (and beyond) night waking is NORMAL. Night waking is common. It categorically does not make a baby 'bad' (I guess this is the presumption of a baby who wakes frequently - if those who don't wake often are considered 'good'?). It is not healthy for a younger baby to get long solid stretches of sleep. . Quite frankly, how a baby sleeps is nobody's business apart from the child's parents. We need to stop being nosy about it. If we must ask anything concerning sleep, it should be "how are you finding the normal frequent wakes? Do you feel you have enough support?" . Sleeping abnormally does not make a baby 'good'. Sleeping like a normal baby and waking often does not mean they are 'not good' (or by default 'bad'). Similarly labelling a baby as good or bad is ridiculous. It's as unhelpful as labelling a toddler naughty, or easy. All children exhibit a range of behaviour, but they are not their behaviour. They are them. Unique individuals. . . We need to stop piling sleep guilt on to new parents. It is no coincidence that 'baby sleep problems' (and associated 'fixes'/consultants/gadgets) are so widespread in modern western culture. In many areas of the world they have no words for 'sleep training' and don't understand what is meant when asked how their baby sleeps. They report significantly less problems with their baby's sleep. No coincidence there! . . . #babysussex #newborn #newbaby #royalbaby #babysleep #sleeptraining #babysleeping #gentlesleep #gentleparenting #archieharrison #babyarchie

A post shared by Sarah Ockwell-Smith (@sarahockwellsmith) on

"This is possibly one of the most toxic questions we ask new parents. It sets up incorrect expectations, places undue pressure on the parents and perpetuates myths and misunderstandings about baby sleep," U.K. parenting author Sarah Ockwell-Smith posted on Instagram shortly after Archie's first photo call.

"Quite frankly, how a baby sleeps is nobody's business apart from the child's parents. We need to stop being nosy about it," she added.

In her post, which has been liked thousands of times and shared across platforms, Ockwell-Smith points out that babies do not sleep "well," or like adults sleep. It is normal and expected for them to wake every few hours to eat, she adds, which is a statement echoed by the Canadian Paediatric Society's (CPS) guide to healthy sleep.

"Newborns may sleep as much as 18 hours a day, for three to four hours at a time. It's normal and healthy for babies to wake up during the night to feed," CPS explains.

"Sleeping abnormally does not make a baby 'good.' Sleeping like a normal baby and waking often does not mean they are 'not good' (or by default 'bad'). Similarly labelling a baby as good or bad is ridiculous," Ockwell-Smith said.

Everyone is obsessed with Archie's sleep

But, as is the way with celebrity babies, people are obsessed with the details about baby Archie — including how he's sleeping, and how tired his parents might be. After his very first interview since the birth, Harry reportedly confessed that he'd only had two hours of sleep, a detail many outlets jumped on.

Meanwhile, People reports that Archie slept like a dream for the first 24 hours of his life. Inside Edition claims Meghan worked with an A-list baby sleep consultant ahead of Archie's arrival. And Express even consulted a "women's mentor and hypnotherapist" to discuss whether Meghan might ditch the night nanny and co-sleep.

Even Prince William couldn't resist a crack about sleep, gleefully welcoming his brother to the "sleep-deprivation society" in his congratulatory message to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. But at least his message is slightly more realistic, and as the father of three young kids (who infamously nodded off in an Anzac Day ceremony days after Louis was born), he knows what to expect.

Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend an Anzac Day service at Westminster Abbey on April 25, 2018 in London, England. Wills has a wee nap while Meghan and Harry joke they will never let this happen to themselves when they have kids.

As Ockwell-Smith notes, people need to butt out.

"If we must ask anything concerning sleep, it should be, 'How are you finding the normal frequent wakes? Do you feel you have enough support?'" she wrote.

A few recent British studies have found that new parents can lose anywhere from 44 to 50 full nights of sleep in the first year of their child's life. To help a baby fall asleep, Health Link B.C. suggests setting up a soothing routine, placing your baby in a dark and quiet room, and putting the baby down drowsy but still awake.

But if your baby doesn't sleep for long stretches, that doesn't make them "good" or "bad" — it just means they're a baby.

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