Sleeping Through the Night

A new study by Pediatrics journal suggests that many babies are sleeping for five hours at a time from about two months of age. The study also suggests that half of all five month old babies are actually sleeping through the night. And by sleeping through the night, we mean for eight hours at a time. The study doesn’t delve into the reasons for this, or how parents are getting their children to sleep for these longer periods of time.

We don’t want to contradict the good doctors who developed the study. We are a bit concerned, though, about how parents may be getting their children to sleep for so long so early.

Conventional wisdom tells us that babies need to eat every two to four hours when they are first born, and that this feeding pattern should continue until baby is about three or four months old. Until then, their stomachs aren’t large enough to hold enough food to keep them from becoming hungry every couple of hours.

Babies who are fed infant formula can usually sleep a little longer than breast fed babies. Breastfed babies tend to wake up hungry every two to three hours, while many formula fed babies can sleep four hours at a time before needing to be fed again.

This causes us to question how and why two month old babies are sleeping for five hour periods. One thought is that parents might be using the Ferber method (cry it out) with their babies at a younger age than they should. Parents who allow babies to cry it out to get to sleep should keep in mind that babies really aren’t ready for that kind of sleep training until they’re at least four months old.

While it can be a tough sell on moms and dads who haven’t been able to sleep more than a couple hours at a stretch for the past two or three months because of a needy baby, we would suggest that it’s not a particularly good idea to let your baby sleep for so long until he is closer to four months old. Until then, he really does need to be feeding at least once every four hours.