Hey Prince Charles…Stop Making New Mums Feel Horrible


My daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was around five months old. And when I say sleep through the night, I mean she slept from 11 PM to 5 AM, which is a crappy night’s sleep by anyone’s account. I remember feeling like it was never going to happen—all the other babies in our NCT group were sleeping for long stretches, and I was convinced we would be doomed to a sleep-deprived existence where each day I’d do something daft like spray hairspray under my arms and deodorant on my hair.

Prince Charles recently divulged to a guest at a Clarence House tea party he was hosting that his new granddaughter, Princess Charlotte, is already sleeping through the night. “We were talking about grandchildren, he was saying Princess Charlotte does sleep through the night and it was much easier on mum than Prince George,” the invitee told the Press Association. 

My reaction when I heard this?

Oh for Pete’s sake—that’s going to make every new mum feel GREAT. Because even though Prince Charles is just being a proud granddad, giving titbits of info to enquiring, interested people, he has the world hanging off his every word about the new princess. And that means that all mums who gave birth within a six week period of the Duchess of Cambridge will be comparing their baby’s development with that of Princess Charlotte’s.

But not in an obsessive way—it’s just a natural thing us mums do. I remember being aware that Jamie and Jools Oliver had their son, Buddy Bear, in the same week that I gave birth to my daughter. So I felt a natural affinity to them and loved seeing photos on Instagram and little updates of how he was doing. When I saw photos of him getting stuck into eating something his dad had no doubt whipped up in the kitchen, I felt reassured—I was weaning my baby then too. It was all going to plan.

It’s in the same way that we compare our baby’s development to those in our ante-natal group, or just friends who happened to have a baby around the same time. One of my closest pals had a baby five months before I did. I was constantly quizzing her on how old her little one was when she rolled over/sat up/got a tooth/clapped her hands/slept through the night. It made me feel like my baby was “normal”—even though there’s actually no such thing.

We can’t help compare and contrast—especially when it’s our first child. Being a mum of one, I don’t know this for sure, but I’m guessing with subsequent babies we chill out a little and just think, “What will be, will be.”

So when Prince Charles uttered those innocent words to a polite, small-talking guest at his Clarence House tea party a few weeks ago, he probably had no idea that he would be sending scores of mums with similar aged babies into a panicked frenzy. Questions would be asked—questions like: “What does he mean, she’s sleeping through—do you think he really means sleeping through or just getting a solid block of four hours?” and “Is it normal to still be waking every two hours at this age? Should we go to the health visitor about it?”

I greeted the news with a big old eye roll—I’m one of those mums who has been there, had a baby who wouldn’t sleep, got the T-shirt, and then got my eight hours a night back eventually. So I’d say this to any mum who has a baby who won’t sleep:

Don’t worry. It’s crappy. But it really doesn’t last forever. Oh, and stop comparing your baby to others—they’re all different.

image: Getty/Anwar Hussein Collection

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