There is something therapeutic about a sleeping baby. Holding her, snuggling, looking at that beautiful, vulnerable face. These moments seem to (and probably do) bring your blood pressure down dramatically. So why does nothing raise the parental blood pressure more than the disrupted and unpredictable baby sleep of infancy?
What's the Issue?
Of all the parental concerns I discuss in the office on a daily basis, none exceed in number the questions I get about infant sleep. And to be honest, it was one of my main concerns as a parent, as well. Is he getting enough? Why is the pattern or sleep cycles now suddenly so different from a week ago? Why is everyone else's baby sleeping better than ours?
Consider the Numbers
First, the norms:
- The average 11-month-old needs between 13 and 14 hours of sleep per 24 hours.
- Difficulty falling asleep (referred to as "sleep latency") is common. Nearly 25 percent of one-year-olds need more than 30 minutes to fall asleep. And many one-year-olds can't pass this time without crying, at least a little.
- Sleep latency is also high maintenance. About 15 percent of one-year-olds need at least one return visit from their parents after being put to bed before they fall asleep for the first time.
- Disrupted sleep is not just an infancy issue: 70 percent of kids go through at least one period of waking one or more times every night during their first five years.
- You don't have the only high maintenance sleeper! Nearly 30 percent of one-year-olds need at least one parental intervention during their entire night's sleep.
- "Ninety percent of one-year-olds sleep through the night," say the experts. But sleeping "through the night" is defined by this "norm" as between the hours of midnight and 5AM. No parent I have ever met has ever defined "through the night" in this way!