10.26.10 Researchers find that the first four months of a new baby's life are crucial in setting bedtime sleep habits.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics says that most infants can be taught to start sleeping through the night between 2 months and 4 months old, offering some hope for exhausted parents, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The New Zealand researchers followed the parents of 75 full-term babies who completed written sleep diaries and videotaped their children for six days each month. They found that many infants are sleeping from midnight to 5 a.m. by 2 months of age, and that more than half are sleeping from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. by 5 months.
The study notes that the findings don't necessarily apply to pre-term babies. The researchers also acknowledged that they did not collect data on whether the infants were breastfed or bottle-fed, the L.A. Times reports. Breastfed babies tend to wake more during the night, experts said.
These days, new parents can choose from a long list of sleep philosophies. To start teaching your infant to sleep through the night, health experts advise developing good sleep habits early on, such as putting your baby down in the crib when she or he is drowsy and still awake. Also, don't rock your baby to sleep, or let your baby fall asleep on you. If your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, don't immediately go to him or her. Remember to make your visit with your infant as limited and boring as possible if he or she continues to cry. But whatever you do, don't pick the baby up.
If nothing else works, you can always give in for the night and pick the baby up and then try again the next night. Tomorrow is another day.
Even before babies are born, parents-to-be worry about how they're going to get the rest that they need. Check out our experts' answers to the most common questions about baby slumber.
When it comes to bagging some z's with a new baby around, just remember to keep your expectations realistic. But when sleep deprivation is at an all-time high for you and life goes on, try one of our beauty tips for looking good on no sleep!
Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.