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Prof Care Mother Child. 1994 Aug-Sep;4(6):166-7.

Sleep: what is normal at six months?


Health visitors and general practitioners are often asked for help because of what parents perceive as a baby's sleeping problem. Many parents expect that the baby will be sleeping continuously through the night from a given age, often as early as six weeks old. The conflict between the parents' expectations and the baby's behaviour leads the parents to seek help. Analysis of the first 640 questionnaires received from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ALSPAC). Study show that many six-month-old babies have broken nights. Only 16% slept through the night at six months old. Half woke occasionally, 9% woke most nights, 5% woke once every night and a further 17% woke more than once per night, ranging from twice to eight times. For 16% of six-month-olds there was no regular sleeping pattern. Parents use a variety of strategies when the baby wakes at night, including rocking or cuddling, giving a dummy or feeding with milk or another drink. By six months old, 61% of babies slept in a room on their own, but 15% were always or usually brought into the parents' bed if they woke, and 34% sometimes 28% of babies aged six months routinely slept in the parents' bedroom. Knowing that their baby's behaviour pattern is "normal" and shared by many other babies of the same age is often reassuring to parents.

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