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.
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
Psalm 1:1-6 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; …
John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Isaiah 26:3-4 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Luke 6:43-49 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:
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