Getting your baby to sleep through the night: it’s the milestone all parents of infants long for.
It’s understandable, given how precious and elusive a full night’s sleep can be for new parents. The quest for a full night of sleep becomes so important that many a book has been written on how to achieve it, and it’s a common topic of conversation among new parents. Those whose babies sleep through the night feel like they have accomplished something important — and those whose babies don’t sleep through the night are often wondering if there is something wrong with their baby or their parenting. This is especially true because among Western cultures, there is a perception that by around 6 months of age, if not sooner, babies should be sleeping through the night.
This perception, it turns out, is not exactly correct. And that’s where the good news/bad news thing comes in. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, if your baby doesn’t sleep through the night at 6 months, or even at 12 months, it’s perfectly normal.
It’s always good news to hear that your baby is normal — but for some parents, it may understandably feel like bad news that a full night of sleep is further out on the horizon than they had hoped.
Researchers from Canada studied 388 infants at 6 months, and 369 infants at 12 months. They defined sleeping through the night as six or eight hours of sleep without any waking. They found that at 6 months, 38% of the babies couldn’t make it six hours without waking — and a full 57% didn’t sleep eight hours at once. At 12 months, those numbers were better but still not great: 28% didn’t sleep six hours straight, and 43% didn’t sleep eight hours.
It’s not a baby problem and it’s not a parenting problem — it’s not actually a problem at all
As cranky as being woken up at night can make a parent feel, the researchers did not find a correlation between waking at night and the “postnatal mood” of the mothers. They also found that babies that woke up at night didn’t lag behind the sound sleepers when it came to their cognitive, language, or motor development. The babies did fine either way.
They also found that babies who woke up at night were more likely to be breastfeeding. This makes sense, given that breast milk is more easily and quickly digested than formula, causing breastfed babies to get hungrier sooner. Given that breastfeeding has known health benefits, a little extra waking could end up working out for baby (and for the mother, given that breastfeeding has benefits for mothers too).
Now, for some parents waking up at night is a problem, and that’s where sleep training comes in. There are certainly various techniques and methods that can help teach babies to sleep longer and more independently. Many of them, though, involve letting the baby cry for a while — and while studies have shown that this doesn’t harm babies, it can be hard and stressful for many parents.
What this study shows is that if your baby is waking during the night and you’re doing okay with it, you don’t need to do anything. With time, it will get better. While those first few months of life can feel like an eternity, they aren’t. Before you know it you will be up at night for an entirely different reason: waiting for them to get home from a night out with friends. And when that does happen, those days of waking up with them as babies won’t seem so bad at all.446
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love. Ephesians 3:16-17 NIV
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24 NIV
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV
For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit? Romans 15:13 NIV
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6 NIV
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 NIV
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40 NIV
Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:3 NIV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 NIV
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. Romans 14:1 NIV
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11 NIV
For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4 NIV
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV
I have set my heart on your laws. Psalm 119:30 NIV
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