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Infant Sleep Patterns Throughout the First Year

10/25/2010  

Why do some babies sleep through the night as early as two months of age, when others can take up to as long as 12 months? In the study, “Sleeping Through the Night: The Consolidation of Self-Regulated Sleep Across the First Year of Life,” published in the November issue of Pediatrics (published online Oct. 25), parents of 75 normally developing infants completed sleep diaries for six days each month for 12 months. The accuracy of these reports was verified by a time-lapse video recorder. The fastest consolidation in infant sleep regulation occurred in the first 4 months of life. During this time, infants were most likely to meet three different criteria for sleeping through the night (midnight to 5.00 a.m., 8 hours, or 10:00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m.), and to have a mean longest self-regulated sleep period that exceeded eight hours.

Most infants were sleeping through the night at 2 and 3 months of age, regardless of the criterion used. Prevention efforts should be focused in the first 3 months, beginning as early as 1 month for intervention to be in sync with the onset of sleeping through the night. Additional efforts are needed to determine the factors that precede and predict infant sleep issues.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.