What Parents Should Know
Sleeping is commonly defined by averages, but few babies fit the norms exactly. Click here for info on average sleep times for babies and children, keeping in mind that these times don't take into consideration the individual traits of your child. My first baby (my best sleeper—so much for learning from the first one!) slept consistently through the night, defined by me as from the time we put him down (near our bedtime, around 10 or 11PM) to at least 5AM, at nine months of age. So when my neighbors' kids were sleeping from 7PM to 7AM by one month of age, they were no more normal than my son. (Note I'm not discussing my other two children, whose sleep habits defied our firstborn's pattern of "normalcy.")
Sleeping is also a dynamic issue in childhood—that is, its patterns change consistently within single sessions, even. On a nightly basis, sleeping through the night may mean waking three or four times, rolling over, and independently putting yourself back to sleep. This is true for babies and adults alike. So sleeping through the night really means having the ability to go back to sleep without parental intervention. Most infants will go through a period of nightly waking, even if they are typically low-maintenance, wonderful sleepers. This may be after a vacation, during an illness, or near the holidays when schedules are off a bit.
Sleep is critical for attitude and disposition. And I'm not just talking about babies, now! It is hard enough to parent when you are well rested. Parenting when you are sleep deprived is nearly impossible. And quality sleep for your infant is important for proper growth and brain development. A disrupted sleep schedule can mean (at least) an unhappy child, but may also mean an unhealthy child. Kids who chronically don't get enough rest are more susceptible to infection and prolonged recovery from infection.
What the Docs May Do
Your pediatrician is a great sounding board for sleep "norms." Sleep should be a primary topic of conversation at all pediatric well-child visits from birth to adulthood. If it is not brought up by your pediatrician, don't hesitate to discuss your sleep concerns as part of your child's well visit.
Pediatricians will typically start to worry when infants are irritable, have signs of breathing obstruction (snoring, disrupted sleep breathing), or if your infant's sleep pattern falls well outside the norms of his age group. Typically, the answer to most sleep disturbance issues in this age group is behavioral techniques:
- Learn more about what to do when Baby begins waking nightly.
- Try these five expert sleep tactics.
- Are you preventing your baby from sleeping through the night? Learn more, here.
- Consult the BabyZone Sleep Guide for more tricks on better sleep—tonight.
More 11th Month Health Help
Even the most confident parent has concerns about her child's health and wellness from time to time. Learn more about which medical issues are most common at each baby age, here. (If you have any pressing concerns or questions about your baby's health, please check with her healthcare provider.)
- What was last month's most popular health worry?
- Learn which medical question you might have next month.
- Here's what else is happening with your baby's health and development this month.