Study Finds Babies Have Wildly Different Sleep Patterns, So Don't Worry If They Don't Sleep Through The Night
Can't keep up with your baby's sleep patterns? A new study suggests this inconsistency is completely normal for infants.
Does your 6-month-old baby keep having inconsistent sleep patterns each night? Are you having trouble keeping up with their sleeping schedule?
While your baby’s unpredictable sleeping pattern may spark some concerns that something might be wrong them, a new study from McGill University says this is completely normal baby behaviour.
Professor Marie-Helene Pennestri, the lead researcher of the study said that parents should consider sleeping through the night as a process, not a milestone for their baby.
Baby’s Sleep Patterns
The study involved 44 babies—when they were 6-months-old. Researchers asked the mothers to record an infant sleep diary for 13 nights. This was so they could track the babies’ sleep patterns and measure the longest period of uninterrupted sleep they had each night.
The results showed that on average, the babies were reported to sleep 6 hours consecutively for about 5 nights out of the 13-night-period.
Breastfeeding And Co-sleeping May Also Affect Baby’s Sleep Patterns
Researchers also found that some parental practices including breastfeeding and co-sleeping may be associated with more variability in the baby’s sleep patterns.
While it doesn’t mean these awakenings are problematic, mothers who do breastfeed and co-sleep with their babies are just more likely to observe their little one waking up in the middle of the night.
Pennestri said, “Parents are often exposed to a lot of contradictory information about infant sleep. They shouldn’t worry if their baby doesn’t sleep through the night at a specific age because sleep patterns differ a lot in infancy.”
She also added that parents and clinicians should keep in mind that occasional sleeping through the night does not always mean consolidation of this behaviour. Your baby may be able to sleep for an extended amount of time on some nights but don’t expect them to consistently sleep through the night.
“One important piece of the puzzle is understanding parents’ perceptions and expectations of infant sleep. In future research, we hope to explore what ‘sleeping through the night’ really means to them,” said Pennestri.