For many new moms and dads, it seems like one of their biggest parenting goals is getting their newborn baby or toddler to sleep through the night. After all, parents get to win their own bragging rights, especially after the first night their child sleeps a solid 10 hours or more. But according to a new study, there’s no need to worry if your infant isn’t sleeping through the night by their first birthday. Here’s why.
According to Science Daily, there is no correlation between a child’s sleeping patterns – or lack of sleep, per say – and their health and well-being. In fact, research shows that a team of researchers found that children who didn’t sleep six or seven consecutive hours throughout the might found no association between the amount of sleep they get and their psychomotor and mental development. In addition, the researchers also found no correlation between babies waking up in the middle of the night and their parents’ postnatal mood.
The study, conducted my health professionals for the December 2018 issue of Pediatrics, said that parents can rest easy – even if they don’t feel super rested – if their child still isn’t sleeping throughout the night by the time they are a year old. While there are many pediatricians who stress the importance of early sleep consolidation, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a goal for parents.
Lead researcher, Marie-Hélène Pennestri, from McGill University's Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and the Sleep Clinic at Hôpital en santé mentale Rivière-des-Prairies, says that while a good night’s rest seems to be the “gold standard” for many Western nations, parents shouldn’t worry if they are still up at 2 am at night feeding their 6-month-old baby. Her team studied 400 infants and showed there is no association between interrupted sleep and later developmental problems.
Pennestri said, “Our findings suggest parents might benefit from more education about the normal development of -- and wide variability in -- infants' sleep-wake cycles instead of only focusing on methods and interventions, especially for those who feel stressed about methods such as delayed response to crying. Maternal sleep deprivation is often invoked to support the introduction of early behavioral interventions, but it may be that mothers' expectations about being awakened at night along with the total number of hours they sleep over the course of a day are better predictors of maternal well-being. It is something that will need to be considered in future studies."
It’s without a doubt that parents will want to get their sleep, even if they have one less thing to worry about.