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Your baby’s sleep patterns are affected by a number of factors. There is your baby’s temperament, of course, as some babies will be more restless than others. Your baby may be sensitive to noise and wake easily. The comfort of your baby’s bed can impact how he sleeps, too.

One of the most significant factors in how your baby sleeps, however, is whether or not she is breastfed.

According to researchers, babies that are breastfed tend to wake up more often during the night than babies that are bottle fed. In fact, breastfed babies are 66% more likely to wake during the night than bottle fed babies.

Realistic expectations

Part of the problem is that many parents simply expect that, within a few weeks or months, their baby will sleep through the night. While that’s true of many bottle fed babies and some breastfed babies, many other breastfed babies may not sleep through the night until the age of one year.

This is completely normal, and it doesn’t mean there’s a problem with your baby. Breastfed babies simply have more frequent feeding schedules than bottle fed babies.

Commitment

Breastfeeding your baby is a decision that you need to make on your own (probably with your partner’s input). There are a number of health advantages to breastfeeding including a strengthened immune system and lower incidences of asthma later on.

However, breastfeeding is a commitment. You have to provide your baby’s nourishment. That often means pumping breast milk at work, for example, so that your baby can feed while you’re away during the day.

It may also mean using pumped breast milk to let your partner do some of the nighttime feedings, as well.

It’s a commitment many women feel is worth it.

Routine matters

There’s another factor in whether your baby sleeps through the night that may be even more important than breastfeeding, however: routine. Some research suggests that babies who have consistent naptimes and bedtimes tend to sleep through the night sooner than babies whose schedule is more flexible. This was true both of bottle fed and breastfed babies.

If you have concerns about your baby sleeping through the night, you can talk to your pediatrician to rule out potential causes and to get some ideas on how to encourage her to stay asleep.