Video evidence of babies re-settling themselves
Video evidence that London infants can resettle themselves back to sleep after night waking in the night, as well as sleep for long periods, by 3 months of age.
The journal of developmental and behavioural pediatrics has published this study which used night camera’s and parents sleep logs to assess 100 infants up until 5 months old. The researchers were looking at whether infants could settle themselves back to sleep at night after waking if they were not hungry.
A lot of people have previously believed that up until 6 months infants can not do this, while other sleep experts have argued that they can do this from a young age.
This study has collected evidence on what these little babies are up to when everyone is fast asleep.
- Sleep consolidation was noted to increase to more than 5 hours in a row by 3 months (45% of babies), and this is an increase from 10 % of babies who sleep this long at 5 weeks old.
- A further 25% of infants wake and re-settle themselves at both ages over night, so appear to sleep for more than 5 hours.
- This finding confirms some young infants’ ability to settle themselves back to sleep with little or no distress.
- How the infant was fed had no bearing on how they slept. Three-month old’s fed solely breast milk were as likely to self-resettle or have long sleep bouts as infants fed formula or mixed breast and formula milk.
- Most infants night sleep has become more settled by 3 months old (not sleeping 12 hours!!), and those whose night sleep doesn’t settle before 5 months are more likely to have long term sleep waking problems.
I think although this is a small group of babies (100) the findings are interesting and promising.
Sleep consolidation and self settling skills are being observed at a very young age, and this is encouraging when our aim is to teach parents how to allow their babies to develop healthy sleep habits.
It also gives some solace to those parents who’s babies don’t sleep more than 5 hours at 3 months, you are not alone, as 30% of the infants in this study didn’t either.
Really great to see that pushing formula on breastfeeding mothers makes no difference to night sleep, and if you are happy breastfeeding and your baby is thriving there is no need to quit breastfeeding in order to achieve better night sleep.
Stop and listen and observe your new-born when they wake at night, give them the opportunity to try to go back to sleep before you jump in to feed them or rock them back to sleep.
I am not talking about ignoring distress, but as you can see in the video below it can be quite a few minutes before your baby tries to go back to sleep after a wake up, so if they are not distressed give them some space, they might surprise you!
This study concluded:
"Infants are capable of resettling themselves back to sleep in the first 3 months of age; both autonomous resettling and prolonged sleeping are involved in “sleeping through the night” at an early age. Findings indicate the need for physiological studies of how arousal, waking, and resettling develop into sustained sleeping and of how environmental factors support these endogenous and behavioral processes."
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Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
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