Most babies don’t sleep as long as their parents expect them to, study reveals

Is your little one not sleeping through the night? Don’t worry, you’re most definitely not alone.

In fact, new research from McGill University reveals that most babies don’t sleep through the night as soon as their parents expect them to.

baby crying

Most babies don’t sleep through the night as soon as parents expect, says study

People define ‘sleeping through’ the night different ways. Some consider more than five hours ‘sleeping through’ and others may ‘dream feed’ their children to keep them going.

Researchers studied 360 babies and found that a huge percentage of developmentally normal, healthy babies don’t sleep through the night (more than six hours) by the time they are a year old.

baby sleeping

These infants are not at increased risk for delays in cognitive, language or motor development as a result.

“If there was only one thing I could tell parents, it would be; do not worry if your infant does not sleep through the night at six months of age,” lead researcher, Marie-Hélène Pennestri told NBC News.

The study, which is set to be published in the December edition of the medical journal Pediatrics, found that at six months of age only 38% of infants were not yet sleeping six consecutive hours a night. More than half (57%) weren’t sleeping eight hours.

What’s more, at 12 months old, only 28% of infants weren’t sleeping six hours straight, and 43% weren’t sleeping consecutively for eight hours.

baby yawning

“In the present sample of typically developing infants, we were unable to find any significant associations between sleeping through the night at 6 or 12 months of age and variations in mental or psychomotor development,” the study concluded.

Sleep plays a huge role in a child’s development, but as long as a child is sleeping, however, that may be – whether it’s in intervals or short naps in the day – it is just as important.

How lack of sleep affects parents

Sleep is critical for mental health and some parents worry that lack of sleep may increase their chances of developing postnatal depression.

tired mum

“Maternal sleep deprivation is often invoked to support the introduction of early behavioural interventions, but it may be that mothers’ expectations about being awakened at night along with the total number of hours they sleep over the course of a day are better predictors of maternal well-being,” the study’s authors wrote.

“It is something that will need to be considered in future studies.”

“This association was present at six and 12 months of age as measured by both the six-and eight-hour criteria. It’s not clear why and more research is needed,” read the study notes.

“Our findings suggest parents might benefit from more education about the normal development of—and wide variability in—infants’ sleep-wake cycles instead of only focusing on methods and interventions, especially for those who feel stressed about methods such as delayed response to crying.”

Many things can determine why a baby is waking up in the night. Whether they are too warm or cold or also hungry. It was found that babies in the study who were breastfed were more likely to wake up at least once during the night compared to formula-fed babies.

Medical professionals suggest that breastmilk is digested more easily causing a baby to wake more frequently.

Is Your Baby Constantly Hungry? This Could Be Why

Babies, like adults, individuals and all have their own unique sleeping pattern.

Ultimately, whether they sleep four hours consecutively or 14, they will all develop healthily and reach their milestones.

 Baby sleep guide: Are your expectations too high?

A midwife shares 8 tips on how to make your baby sleep

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