Baby Not Sleeping Through The Night Yet? Don’t Worry, You’re Not Alone

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infant sleep study

Image: iStock / NataliaDeriabina

If there’s one thing that nearly all parents can find common ground on, it’s that we don’t get enough sleep. Ask any parent what they miss most about life pre-baby, and the majority of them will say: SLEEP! From the moment we bring our babies home, it seems like sleep goes right out the window. You tell yourself it’s temporary, that eventually they will sleep. And then your friend with the perfect hair and home-cooked meals makes an off-handed remark about how HER baby was sleeping through the night at six months! And you think, “What the actual hell am I doing wrong?!” Nothing. You are doing nothing wrong. Because one person’s magical sleeping baby is the outlier, not you! A new infant sleep study shows that most babies don’t sleep through the night at six months. And a good chunk don’t sleep through the night at a year old, either.

It’s so easy to get caught up in believing you’re doing it wrong, especially when it comes to sleep. And it’s even easier to get overwhelmed and stressed out. A baby who doesn’t sleep usually means a mom or dad who doesn’t sleep. But before you start freaking out, read this. Babies don’t magically start sleeping through the night at a certain age. Just because your Aunt Shirley told you her neighbor’s baby does, doesn’t make it true.

Canadian researchers have published a new infant sleep study that blows the “sleeping through the night” myth out of the water.

For whatever reason, we’re told that babies should be sleeping through the night at six months old. But after collecting data from parent surveys, these researchers are calling shenanigans. A research team out of McGill University studied surveys from parents of 388 infants six months and older. The team checked in with 360 of those families after one year. What they found was not surprising, but also totally surprising.

At six months only, 38% of babies weren’t sleeping for six consecutive hours at night. More than half weren’t sleeping for eight hours. We’ve been lied to!

But wait! It gets better. The data from the surveys showed that 28% of infants at 12 months old still weren’t getting a solid six hours a night, and 43% weren’t sleeping for eight hours straight. The amount of stress this causes parents is sort of insane, and it’s all for naught! We’re more concerned with consecutive hours than total sleep in a day. That’s where our focus should be, so we can stop stressing out over our babies not sleeping 6-8 straight hours a night. A baby 12 months or younger should be getting 12-16 hours of sleep a day, including naps. Toddlers up to the age of two need 11-14 hours, and preschoolers should be clocking 10-13 hours of sleep A DAY. Not necessarily at night! Just in a day.

There is nothing cut and dry about babies. They’re going to do what they’re going to do. But hopefully this infant sleep study eases some parental worries about how much sleep their baby is (or isn’t) getting at night.