Most Babies Do Not Sleep Through The Night By Age 1, Despite Expectations Of Parents

If you're a parent of a young one, you probably took one glance at this headline and immediately rolled your eyes.

Most infants don't sleep through the night?

You don't say!

Thankfully, a new study published in Pediatrics backs up many new parents' claims of utter sleeplessness during that first year - and sometimes beyond. Canadian researchers analyzed surveys of parents of 388 infants aged up to six months, and then checked in again with 360 of them at the age of one year. Ultimately, the study followed the children up to the age of three.


At six months of age, 38 per cent of typically developing infants were not yet sleeping six consecutive hours a night. More than half - 57 per cent - weren't sleeping eight hours. By the time they reached 12 months, a total of 28 per cent were still not sleeping six hours straight overnight, and 43 per cent weren't staying asleep for eight hours.

According to Marie-Hélène Pennestri, study lead, parents should not be concerned at all if their baby is not sleeping through the night by six months.

"If there was only one thing I could tell parents, it would be [that]," she said. “Sleeping through the night at age 6 to 12 months is generally considered the gold standard in Western industrialized nations."

In their study, Pennestri and her team concluded that the amount of total sleep - which also includes naps - might actually be more important than getting eight consecutive hours overnight. They even turned the myth that new mothers are more depressed due to lack of sleep on its head, citing that they found no link between how long babies slept at night and the mood of the mother.

Additionally, they also found no differences in the babies' development. By three years of age, they found no developmental differences between babies who slept through the night when they were young and those who did not.

One interesting factor the researchers did uncover was that babies who were breastfed were more likely to wake up at least once a night, versus those who did not. And while studies have shown immense benefits of breastfeeding - such as lower risks of respiratory infections, gastroenteritis and asthma - Pennestri believes that this association may have to do with the fact that nursing mothers are more willing to be awakened.

"Maybe it is more related to the mother's expectations," she said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants aged up to a year need 12 to 16 hours of sleep a day, including naps. Toddlers aged up to 2 need 11 to 14 hours a day. and preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours.

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