When you have a new baby, everyone seems to be obsessed with how much sleep they are (or are not) getting. Although we seem to ‘allow’ newborn babies to wake up at night, by the time they reach about four months we seem to believe they should start sleeping through.
This isn’t a great expectation. Firstly, babies are designed to wake up. They’re tiny and defenceless and like checking you’re there. Secondly they are going through huge growth spurts and developmental leaps at this point so will naturally wake more. And thirdly, waking up may help to keep them safe – deep sleep isn’t necessarily a great thing for young babies. However this doesn’t stop people thinking babies should sleep through the night. But do they really? No! People also think that somehow stopping breastfeeding and giving more solids will help them to sleep. Will it? Again, no! Why would carrot help them sleep?
To show how normal night waking it, we recently conducted some research exploring how often babies wake up at night. We surveyed over 600 parents of babies aged 6 – 12 months and found the majority still woke at night and that what milk they had, or how much solids had nothing to do with how many times they still woke up.
Breastfed babies did feed more at night, but formula fed babies woke up just as much. Breastfed babies probably feed more because it’s really easy to breastfeed a baby back to sleep. Other studies have shown breastfeeding mothers get more sleep overall for this reason!
You can read our research paper here
Our press release about the research here
Watch an ITV news story about the research here
Read a Huff Post story about the research here
And watch our lovely animation all about the research here!