Here’s what you can do to help your baby sleep through the night: nothing. That is, let him get back to sleep on his own whenever he wakes up.
Researchers from the University of London found that babies who could resettle back to sleep on their own when they were just about a month old were better at sleeping through the night by the time they reached 3 months old compared to babies that needed help going back to sleep.
Published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, the study involved taking video recordings of 100 infants while they slept. Videos were taken when the infants were 5 weeks old and 3 months old – an age, the study says, that parents hope their children will be able to sleep longer at night – and analyzed these for changes in the babies’ sleeping and waking.
Results of the study found only 10% of babies at 5 weeks old slept for five hours straight compared to 45% of babies at 3 months old. They also found that that about one-fourth of babies in both age groups could resettle themselves back to sleep without the help of their parents at least once in the night. The babies were able to resettle with little to no crying or fussing.
“Self-resettling at five weeks predicted prolonged sleeping at three months,” researchers Dr. Ian St James-Roberts and his colleagues wrote.
“Sixty-seven percent of infants who resettled in the first recording slept continuously for at least 5 hours in the second recording, compared to 38 percent who didn't resettle,” said the news release.
The researchers stressed the need for more studies to be done on how waking and resettling develops into sustained sleeping as the baby grows older.
So how can you help your baby resettle back to sleep without your help? Dr. Precious “Tippy” Tanchanco, a development pediatrician who holds clinic at the Medical City, in an article on Smart Parenting suggested co-sleeping with your baby.
“Babies tend to sleep better and more peacefully when they are with their parents. Your warmth, your smell, the sound of your breathing – these make them feel more secure, so even if they wake up in the middle of the night, it’s easier for them to fall back to sleep with little or no help from you,” she said.
However, she also stressed the importance of creating a safe-sleep environment for your child. “There should be no thick blankets, no comforters. The bed sheets should fit snugly on the bed and should not be easily pulled off. You need to ensure that your baby does not get smothered.”
Don't worry about it too much, parents. Very young infants might sleep as much as 16 hours a day but unfortuately, it really is for just a few hours at a time.
Sources: June 5, 2015. "Babies who can resettle are more likely to 'sleep through the night'". sciencedaily.com