Sleep is vital for keeping your child healthy and happy. A lack of sufficient sleep is linked to various childhood health problems, including behavioural issues, reasoning difficulties, emotional disorders, childhood obesity, and ADHD. It is unclear if a lack of tendency to sleep continuously during early infancy will have such long-lasting negative effects. However, a study suggests that parents should not be too worried if your 6 to 12-month-old infant does not sleep through the night.
In the beginning stages of life, babies who are around zero to four months old have wildly irregular sleeping schedules. The times when they sleep and awaken will be affected by their feeding and changing needs. In total, newborn babies will spend in total around 10 to 18 hours a day sleeping. Their sleeping periods may last from minutes to a few hours, with one to three hours of time spent being awake in between. When sleeping, babies may seem restless, often making little movements with their arms and legs and changing their expressions. Be sure to keep an eye for the small signs that indicate your baby wants to sleep. Each baby has their own way of expressing themselves.
Sleeping Through the Night
Next, at five to six months is where babies usually reach the development milestone of “sleeping through the night”. Sleep consolidation, or “sleeping through the night”, is a common milestone for babies. Sleeping through the night is considered to be the “longest period of uninterrupted sleep”. In other words, this refers to blocks of sleep that do not require parental intervention, usually six to eight hours. This is different from the total number of hours that a baby spends sleeping in a day.
If your infant has not yet achieved this milestone despite being six months old, there is no need to fret. Studies have shown that not all infants tend to follow this timeline. Canadian researchers found out that many babies who are developmentally healthy do not reach this milestone at six months, some even up to 12 months. The research consists of mothers’ reports on their infants’ behaviour, which involved over 700 infants at six months old and 12 months old. 57% of six-month-old infants were not sleeping a continuous eight hours, while the amount was 43% for 12-month-old infants.
The researchers also further looked into infants who woke up at night and did not have uninterrupted sleep. They found no association between this behaviour and the infants’ cognitive, language, and motor development.
As a parent, it is important that your baby is able to get the sleep and rest that they need. It may seem worrying if your baby is not progressing according to a conventional timeline of events. However, it is important to take note that these are simply guidelines of your baby’s progress and not strict rules. As always, it is important to take into account different variables and to focus on your baby as an individual with different needs.
For more information about caring for your infant, please visit Motherhood.com.my.