A new study confirms what many of us already know–most babies don’t sleep through the night their first year, and that’s completely normal.
Canadian researchers published a report in the journal Pediatrics that confirmed what many of us already know–babies ‘sleeping through the night,’ is not necessarily a thing, and by the time babies are a year old, only 57% are actually sleeping eight hours straight.
The researchers also looked at what was most beneficial to a baby’s development–total sleep or consistent sleep, and found that it is likely more important that they get enough sleep, regardless of whether it’s consistent. Further, they found a mother’s mood had nothing to do with whether a baby slept through the night or not.
Marie-Hélène Pennestri is with McGill University and led the study. She says that the most important thing she’d tell parents was that it was not worrisome that baby didn’t sleep through the night when only six-months-old.
Her team looked at survey responses from 388 parents of babies who were under six-months-old. They then revisited 360 of those parents when their children were one-year-old.
Pennestri’s team found that 38% of typically developing infants were still not sleeping six hours consecutively when they were six-months-old and over half of them weren’t sleeping eight-hours through. By the time the babies were 12-months-old, 28% were still not sleeping six hours a night and 43% still weren’t sleeping a full eight hours a night.
Pennestri is a sleep researcher and when she became a mother, she realized that babies sleeping through the night wasn’t quite what she thought it was. She said that many parents stress and worry that their babies don’t sleep through the night and it’s important to emphasize that is a norm and not something mothers should feel worried about or depressed over. She said that many mothers reported feeling tense when their baby couldn’t sleep through the night, but she feels more education about that being a norm might help reduce stress on parents.
Obviously, clinicians caring for parents worry about depression setting in when parents are not getting enough sleep, but the research done by Pennestri’s team found that there was no link between how long a baby slept through the night and the mood of the mothers. More, there was no difference in the healthy development of babies who slept longer compared to those who do not.
They followed the babies until they were three-years-old and found no differences in development. They did find babies who nursed were more likely to wake at least once through the night, and believe that there may be several factors behind that. Mothers who breastfeed may be more ‘okay’ with being woken up for their baby’s feeding, and Pennestri’s next study will look at that, as she believes a mother’s expectations may play a part in the baby’s sleeping and waking.
The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t have a specific stance on sleeping through the night or not, but does recommend parents do not make a baby sleeping through the night a battle. They also suggest that babies stay in their parents’ room at night for at least a full year, and that parents ensure children get enough sleep per day, even if that includes napping.
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