The Truth About Babies and Sleep

Ann Douglas's picture

by Ann Douglas

sleeping babyDo the other moms in my moms group seem to have babies who have been sleeping through the night since they were just a couple months old? My friend with a four-month-old can count on her baby being up at east once -- and maybe even twice -- in the night. She can't figure out what she's doing wrong.

Here's my reply:

This simple sleep fact may help you to rest easy. When sleep experts apply the term "sleeping through the night" to young babies, they are talking about any five-hour-long stretch of sleep that occurs at night. So if your baby hits the hay at 9:00p.m., sleeps until 2:00a.m., feeds, and then goes back to bed for another couple of hours, he'd be considered an all-star sleeper (well, at least for a young baby). Need help separating sleep facts from fiction? Here's more information on newborns and sleep.

A few years ago, the U.S.-based National Sleep Foundation did an exhaustive study of children's sleep habits. They discovered that 20% to 30% of babies were still getting up in the night at age nine months. So chances are there's at least one other mom in your group who's up in the night with her baby.

Does your tiny explorer sleep worse or less than all your friends' babies? In the comments, share how you're overcoming this difficulty. A fellow mom may thank you!

Here's something else to mull over in the wee hours of the morning: Some babies who slept through the night when they were younger start waking in the night during the second six months of life. Anything from ear infections to separation anxiety to developmental breakthroughs can throw their sleep schedules out of whack.)

Babies: Sleep May Not Be the Stuff of Which Dreams Are Made if You're a New Mom

Nights of broken sleep combined with the demanding days of early motherhood can trigger baby-related nightmares in new moms. That's one of the findings to come out of a study examining the sleep habits of pregnant women and new mothers, published in the September issue of the journal Sleep.

The study, which involved 273 women, was conducted at the Sleep Research Centre at the Hôpital du Sacré Coeur de Montréal. Researcher Tore Nielsen, PhD, discovered that 73 percent of new mothers and 59% of pregnant women experienced nightmares in which their baby was in danger. These nightmares were so vivid that, even after awakening, 41% of new mothers felt anxious and 51% felt confused. Sixty percent were so shaken by their nightmares that they checked on their babies to make sure that they were safe.

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.