As a new mom, you may be wondering, will I ever sleep again? Infants do sleep a lot, about 16 to 17 hours per day. However, these hours are broken into “naps” that take place throughout the day… and night. This takes a little bit of adjustment. Many new parents may expect their child to sleep through the night by the time they reach six months. Unfortunately, this might not always be the case.
This may concern new parents for three reasons. One is more obvious, and that is a lack of sleep for parents. A good night’s sleep can happen with a little work and some good advice. We’ve previously written about sleeping with a new baby in the household and provided a few tips for getting your baby to sleep. Of course, you should always follow up with your nurses, midwife or baby’s pediatrician if you have concerns about your baby’s lack of sleep.
The second concern is related to child development. Sleep plays a fundamental role. A lack of sleep can lead to physical and mental health problems. If a child is not sleeping through the night, also known as consolidating their sleep, many parents get concerned. However, a recent study published in Pediatrics (the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)), found that normal, healthy babies may not sleep through the night until they are at least six months to a year old. They found no correlation between sleeping through the night (six to eight hours of sleep) and the “mental and psychomotor (mental activity) development” of a child. No relationship was found between infants who wake up at night and problems with cognitive, language or motor development.
The third concern is related to the mood of the parents. The study also found that there is no link between depression or the mood of the mother and a baby’s lack of sleep. However, the studies authors did note that parents are often more stressed about their baby not sleeping than they are about having to wake up in the first place!
New parents, if your child isn’t sleeping through the night, know that you are not alone. The study says that sleeping through the night between ages five and 12 months is considered the “gold standard” in Western nations, however only 57 percent of babies sleep eight straight hours after one year. As such, parents and healthcare professionals use behavioral sleep training such as delayed response to crying. To stay better informed, the authors recommend that parents learn more about the development of an infant’s sleep-wake cycle and the variety of variables. As mentioned, talk with your nurses, midwife or baby’s pediatrician – they are your best resources.