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.
"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.
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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