Mommy in London

Trying to figure things out!

My Own Little Study – When do babies really ‘sleep through the night’?

on May 18, 2012

So the truth is, I’m struggling.  Motherhood is hard work, that’s a given, I knew that.  What makes it harder?  Doing it while exhausted and suffering from sleep deprivation (read: slowly losing my mind).  I buy books about sleep, read websites about sleep, hear people talk about their 8 week old babies sleeping through and others talk about letting their baby ‘cry it out’ or ignoring their baby’s cries at night.  It’s all a lot to take in.

But lately I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s all a myth.  Maybe people say that babies should sleep through the night at a certain age, but maybe none of them really do?  I’m sure that there are a lot of factors that effect a baby’s sleep patterns, but I also think that whether a baby is breastfed or formula fed has a major impact.  Of my NCT group of 6 babies the 2 that were formula fed since 2-3 months have been STTN since then and the other 2 that have now switched to formula are now STTN.  The 2 of us that are still bfing have the 2 little boys that insist on being fed several times through the night and waking several other times just for a cuddle.

Now, if it weren’t for sleep deprivation and exhaustion, I would not be complaining at all.  I actually quite enjoy the middle of the night cuddles.  And I’m certainly not saying that I want to switch to formula for the sake of sleep, but I am saying that if that is true, if it is a known fact that formula fed babies sleep longer then it shouldn’t be a secret.  All of the sleep books should make that very clear, and not make bfing Moms feel guilty or feel that they’re doing something wrong because their baby isn’t yet STTN at a set age.

We’ve decided not to try any sort of ‘controlled crying’ or ‘crying it out’ with E because I do believe that he is hungry at least some of the times that he wakes up, and not listening to him while he basically asks for food just seems mean to me.

So I’ve done a bit of research online and I’ve even done a survey on Twitter, and this is what I’ve come up with:

* Gina Ford says that babies should STTN by 8 weeks old

* KellyMom says that it’s completely normal for breastfed babies not to STTN (some do, some don’t, it depends on the baby)

* What to Expect When You’re Expecting says that a baby that is still waking to eat by 5 or 6 months old is not really hungry

* Netdoctor says that at the age of 5 months there is no need to maintain nightly meals

* BBC Health says that breastfed babies sleep more lightly and will probably wake more often

* Dr Sears says that babies wake for a variety of different reasons and will probably continue to well into their first and second year

* Tracey Hogg (The Baby Whisperer) says that babies should STTN by 3 months

Here’s the results (so far) of my Twitter survey as well as other friends that I’ve asked about their babies:

Baby’s Name / Nickname

Current Age / Age slept through

Breastfed or Formula fed

Feeds per night

Other wake ups per night

E 7 months bf 1 – 2 2 – 3
Pip 8-9 months STTN bf    
Pickle 9 months bf 2  
Jenson 9 months   2 3
Athena 9 months bf 2-3  
Lark 9 months bf 2  
Babs 4 months STTN     1
Poppet 7 months bf 0 or 2  
O 9 months STTN      
TA 7 months bf 2-3  
LO 24 months bf 2 1
Aimee 11 months STTN      
Wyatt 5 months bf 5  
LB 6 months combo 3  
D 3 months STTN formula    
I 3 months STTN formula    
L 8 months STTN when switched to formula    
J 7 months STTN when switched to formula    
R 7 months bf 4  
D 8 months bf 4  
E 9 months STTN when switched to formula    
K 9 weeks STTN      
J 10 / 11 months STTN      
D 24 months     2
C 24 months     1
L 48 months     1


So, I obviously can’t draw any conclusions yet, I’m hoping for more responses to the survey, but it certainly doesn’t seem to me that the majority of babies are STTN by 6 months (and certainly not by 8 weeks!) And it has made me feel a bit better about my little E waking up so much.  Now if only there were some way to make me feel less tired



3 responses to “My Own Little Study – When do babies really ‘sleep through the night’?

  1. westendbaby says:

    Very interesting research!
    Here’s a little input from our household. LB was exclusively breast-fed until 6 months and now she is combination fed. Breast whenever she wants and bottles at breakfast, lunch and last feed of the day. She still wakes up after her first long stretch of sleep and then comes into bed with us and wakes a further two or three times in the night (maybe more) to breast-feed.
    I think that a lot of it is luck of the draw but am SURE formula feeding has a lot to do with it and think that breast-feeding sets a pattern that continues long after the STTN would happen for nutritional reasons alone.
    God it’s all so confusing….

  2. I was concerned about my baby sleeping through the night initially, and my lactation consultant explained to me how fast a baby metabolizes the breastmilk & they wake up because they’re hungry. It’s normal and GOOD that the baby wakes up to feed, this keeps them healthy and growing. This is one reason why I never let me baby cry it out, because baby’s cry for a reason, usually because they’re hungry (at least that was my daughter, she was always looking to nibble). At a certain exhausted point I actually gave in to sleep and co-slept with my daughter and breastfed her when I laid in bed with her. And yes I weighed the pros & cons, read all the facts & saftey precautions, and my daughter is now almost 4 yr old, sleeps in her own toddler bed across the hall and is perfectly healthy & happy> point that no, it did not ruin her self-soothing abilities, as projected, and actually I get comments all the time about how happy she is, and nor did it make her more co-dependent, actually soothing a baby makes them more independent because they understand that they are safe and do not grow up seeking saftey constantly as a self-soothed child may. Any way, good luck to you, you sound like you’re doing a great job. =)

  3. Angel says:

    So glad to read your study! I too struggle so much with this.
    My 11 month old is bf and wakes 2-3 times for feedings still.

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