Burn your baby books! Study reveals link between attempting strict routines and postnatal depression

To those who dig what we call gentle parenting, this ain’t no surprise. A new study shows that the more new mums read parenting books that promote strict sleeping and feeding routines for babies, the more likely they are to show symptoms of postnatal depression.

Gina Ford, Super Nanny and everyone else who profits big time from vulnerable, sleep-deprived parents, we’re looking at you. With our bitchy resting faces.

The sad results show what we at Woke Mamas are always banging on about — that many parenting expectations set in mainstream Western culture are unobtainable, because they are not natural for babies. Or mums.

Dr Amy Brown, Associate Professor and maternal and infant health researcher at Swansea University, who supervised the study, says: “Many of these books suggest goals that go against the normal developmental needs of babies. They suggest stretched out feeding routines, not picking up your baby as soon as they cry and that babies can sleep extended periods at night.

“But babies need to feed lots because their tummy is tiny and they want to be held close as human babies are vulnerable – far more so compared to lots of mammals that can walk and feed themselves shortly after birth. Waking up at night is normal too – after all, many adults wake up at night but babies need a bit more help getting back to sleep.”

So why then, are books promising to make your baby “sleep through the night”, flying off the shelves? Why are people constantly suggesting your baby is “bad” if it wakes every hour at night? And WHY are we putting so much pressure on new parents, when they already have insane levels of shit to deal with?

Because we have normalised something abnormal on a massive, shiny, Photoshopped scale. This is Kim Kardashian butt territory. It is no wonder so many mums feel like failures. They are trying to achieve something unachievable.

Spoiler alert to any expecting mamas out there: a routine isn’t gravy for baby. While the idea of set times each day for pooing, dozing and drooling may fit with your work-Netflix balance, these cheeky chunkies weren’t designed that way.

Waking regularly at night keeps babies safe. Feeding regularly at night helps them grow — and scoring that lovely boob lowers their stress levels. Receiving comfort when they cry for it means they will develop properly. And getting unlimited hugs is the shortcut to a happy, confident adult. Official science bit over n out.

So let’s promise to save the broken hearts of more mums and babes — and spread the truth. Point a bloodshot-eyed mum to the NCT guide to safe bed sharing. Invite a struggling friend next time you go to a breastfeeding advice baby cafe. Celebrate your baby’s snoring, but be honest about the wakes to other mums. We gots to normalise the normal.

But most importantly, people are making money from taking advantage of our next level tiredness and selling us these lies.

So stop buying it.

Stoke the fire. When we run out of bras, bring out the baby books. They burn way better anyway, right?

Have you read any super cray routine books? Do you know how to start a fire? We would ❤ to hear from you. Contact us, comment below, or tag #WokeMamas on social media.

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2 thoughts on “Burn your baby books! Study reveals link between attempting strict routines and postnatal depression

  1. Hey I thankfully never read any crazy books but did read just one which was sooo helpful and explained exactly this – that babies wake as is normal. It describes babies behaviour in an evolutionary context. It’s called “your baby skin to skin: learn to trust your babies instincts in the first year”.


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