Sleeping Patterns

Infants are not born with the ability to sleep through the night. Instead, they awaken every 20 min to 6 h, and sleep periods are spread evenly across day and night. By 3 months of age, most of their sleep occurs at night, and by 6 months, most infants are sleeping through the night.

Night waking is defined as waking and crying once or more between midnight and 5 a.m. at least four of seven nights per week for at least four consecutive weeks. This occurs in approximately 25 percent of infants usually under 12 months of age. This prevalence rises to about 50 percent among breast-fed infants. When the child cries during the night, parents can check to ensure that there is no physical reason for the crying. Having determined that there is no physical problem, parents should ignore the crying so that the child learns to fall asleep on his or her own. If parents usually feed the child at that time and the child is older than about 6 months, the volume of the night feedings should be tapered until they are discontinued and all nourishment is given during the daytime. 78

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