Are Your Baby's Sleeping Habits Normal?

My daughters both kept me very busy at night when they were little – that’s not to say they didn’t/don’t do the same during the day, of course. But at that particular time she was, on average, getting me up around six times a night as standard.

If I’m honest, it probably wasn’t as bad as it sounds: our bodies are quite marvellous, and you absolutely – as a matter of necessity – adapt.

It became my norm and I was used to it. Sure, it was getting me down, but I was coping – better, probably, than when a regression saw me suddenly getting me up three times a night rather than two.

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I am part of some really fab online communities for parents. There’s one in particular that fits my core values as a parent. Which, incidentally, are not the same as I anticipated they would be prior to having children! I didn’t factor into my assumptions that I would suddenly feel emotions I could never have known were lying dormant, just waiting until I became a mother. There’s no point fighting them, they’re bigger than you and they’re your baby’s way of ensuring they get what they need (or more often want) – now!

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The Cry it Out Yourself group on Facebook supports those parents who do not buy into conventional sleep training methods. But this post is definitely not positioned as a soapbox on that particular topic… I’ve no desire to provoke or offend anybody with differing values to my own. (Though should a debate evolve organically in the comments section, I will not hesitate to respond!)

Out of desperation one morning, I asked a question within the above-mentioned group, and I was so overwhelmed by the response that I decided it would be a wasted opportunity if I didn’t turn the data into a post.

The Question

I’m paraphrasing, but I basically asked whether members would be willing to share the average number of times their babies wake at night, and their ages. I was curious to see whether a pattern would emerge, or if it would be as random as the time we found a crab outside our URBAN garage, ie. totally random.

Having a new baby is an inevitable source of many anxieties. Baby sleep (or not sleeping) is one of the greatest. This post takes a look at real life babies and their sleeping habits at various ages. Find out here what's normal for your baby.

The Science Bit

What follows is my best effort at analysing the many responses I received (146 babies and toddlers). Please note that there were some instances where I had to discount comments that were unclear, and other circumstances in which I had to apply a degree of discretion by rounding up or down – because as we know, those babes do like to be awkward and have a tendency towards variable, unpredictable sleeping habits.

After several comments had been posted, it was suggested that it would be very intriguing to include breastfed versus formula fed details, as well as sleeping arrangements. Unfortunately, I was unable to use that information to form part of my results, since it was not provided by all who took part.

So, without further ado, I am putting on my researcher’s hat and shall endeavour to feed back the results of my Scientific Study*.

*For clarification and transparency, it’s Scientific with a capital ‘S’; scientific’ is a word you will all be familiar with, such that it requires no explanation. ‘Scientific’ being capitalised, however, can be presumed a parody of the true word. Basically, I got a bit over-excited at the idea of myself as a scientist (I’m not), conducting an investigation/experiment (it was more of an inadvertent survey), and analysing the data to produce some graphs for my first (and probably only) ever study. For the graphs, I used my laptop and well-known spreadsheet software to create piecharts. ZING.

The Results
0-6m

As you can see, a little over one third of these babies are waking once or twice a night. But for nearly a quarter of damn-lucky parents, their babies are already sleeping through.

Do I sound envious? I’m not envious. (More sceptical as to how this is possible. A thimble of brandy or a rubber mallet are not acceptable, right? So then HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS A REALITY?!)

 

7-12m

 

 

Here you can see that exactly half of the babies are waking at least four times per night.

Parents are super heroes. That is all.

Hold on, I forgot something – we also deserve chocolate and perhaps wine on your way home please, Darling. Dark and Merlot, preferably.

 

 

13-18m

 

Things begin to improve a little after 12 months. Alas, nearly half of those surveyed continue to wake once or twice, with the next largest percentage still going to those cheeky babies in the 4+ times category. (We called ours a Devil Pixie. It’s kind of cute, whilst also conveying our disapproval. Our second daughter is known as Elfin Angel which has turned out to be a sick joke.)

 

 

 

19-24m

 

The older toddlers are beginning to do markedly better. However, it is worth noting that still, nearly half wake once or twice per night.

 

 

 

 

0-24m

 

Looking at the entire group of babies across all age ranges, what is immediately apparent is that each segment is almost equal.

 

 

 

Fascinating. But what does this mean?

The crucial bit of information that we have all been waiting for:

Baby Sleep
EXACTLY. Hardly groundbreaking, huh?

But really, what we parents want to know when all is said and done is this:

Is our situation healthy? Am I doing the right things? When will it end?

Essentially, is my baby normal?

Here you go, guys, this is ultimately why you read this far…

Baby Sleep Habits: What’s Normal?

Normal

I could easily have included one more piechart (they’re kind of addictive and make me feel quite academic). However, I didn’t want to go OTT with something that would come off mawkish and trite. So I’ll just say it without the imagery and allow you to conjure up a vision of joy modelled on your own family and bask in those fuzzy feelings until the baby wakes:

Percentage of babies worth the sleepless nights and exhausted days? 100%.

Do you think this survey is a true and accurate reflection of baby sleep patterns? Please comment below!

For more breastfeeding posts, head over to Breastfeeding – Help, Advice, Support.

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Tags

Newborns and babies, Sleep-Deprivation, Tips and Advice, Toddlers

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is an experienced breastfeeding advocate, and expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.

8 Comments

  1. Hurrah! A firm analysis of data proving that night waking is normal! It may be variable and not entirely reliable due to above factors mentioned. However it came from real mums and for me, that’s all the information I need. I am a sleep deprived mother with a 4+ night waker, it’s my norm, I accept it and relish in this kind of data proving I’m not alone and it does improve without the need to CIO! Good job Kate ?

    • Kate Reply

      Hi Jaime,

      Thanks so much for your comment, I’m glad you found the post reassuring!

  2. Seriously impressed with your research here and love the last graphic – heartening to know for when our little sprog arrives! #MMWBH!

    • Kate Reply

      Haha, thanks v much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

  3. Wow! I am impressed with how informative this post is! Stopping by from the Blog Hop! Love your post and your blog!

    We have always used essential oils for our family and even to help baby sleep when they were younger! Would love for you to check it out!

    Take Care

    Alicia

    • Kate Reply

      Thanks for your kind comments Alicia!

      Unfortunately essential oils didn’t help us. But I’ve heard success stories from others. All babies are different, aren’t they!

  4. the frenchie mummy Reply

    I am so lucky in a way that my Baba only wakes up once! And I was worried that there was something wrong. How funny that from 6 months babies tend to wake up more often! How weird! Merci for sharing with me! xxx

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      I’m so glad it was helpful for you. I think often the biggest problem we have with our baby’s sleep is other people’s input! If it makes you feel any better, though my (just) two year old was going through the night, more recently that’s stopped again. Last night was horrendous. But I just try to accept that this is the way life is for a while and not over-think it. Good luck! Xx

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