As a parent of two children (12 year old daughter and 9 year old son) I can still remember the sleep deprived months after they were born when my wife and I would be up with the 3:00am feedings, diaper changes, etc. And yes, it wasn’t just my wife who did this, I did my fair share!
We were fortunate with our daughter in that she found her thumb after about 2 months and started sleeping through the night from that point on. But our son never figured out the thumb sucking thing and we couldn’t keep enough milk in him so it was many months before he eventually started sleeping through the night (The cereal mixed with his last night time milk feeding had enough substance to get him through the night).
So we thought our kids were crying in the middle of the night because they either needed settling down with a sucking thumb or was hungry and needed a quick top off.
There is a new paper from the journal Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health that states there is a more sinister reason our newborns wake us up in the middle of the night.
“All these observations are consistent with a hypothesis that waking at night to suckle is an adaptation of infants to extend their mothers’ lactational amenorrhea, thus delaying the birth of a younger sib and enhancing infant survival.”
“Blurton Jones and da Costa proposed that night waking to suckle is an adaptation of infants to suppress ovarian function in their mothers, thereby delaying the conception of a younger sib with whom an infant must compete for parental care and attention.”
A baby is genetically imprinted to wake up its parents so they can’t have sex and make more babies that will eventually compete with their future playing time on the X-Box and share of college tuition money.
The science is settled.