Why it's actually a good thing if your baby DOESN'T sleep at night!
Hallelujah. Kind of.
By Frances Sheen
January 10 2019
We've all asked this question in the middle of the night - how can I get my baby to sleep and to stay asleep?
Am I doing something wrong? Can I fix it? Why can't I do this when every other parent can?
It turns out, you're not doing anything wrong - in fact it might actually be a good thing if your baby wakes regularly!
Professor Peter Fleming who specialises in developmental psychology at the University of Bristol says that babies are not designed to sleep for long periods, and waking often actually benefits them.
No, really. Although this isn't much comfort at 3am, it's true! Waking up at night is beneficial!
"It's not good for them, and there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there is any benefit to anybody from having a child that sleeps longer and consistently," said Peter.
"That's not perhaps what most parents would like to hear."
Typically babies sleep during the day and want to be awake the most from 6pm to midnight.
Professor Fleming explains that there’s a very clever reason why babies wake through the night.
"Biologically that's a big advantage because they will have more attention from their two primary caregivers at that time of day than at any other, because there are fewer distractions.
"From a biological point of view what the baby is doing is completely normal and sensible. It just doesn't fit in with our 21st-century expectations," says Peter.
Professor Fleming also believes there is a very high level of developmental and intellectual achievement AND not sleeping throughout the night.
"If we go back to evolutionary history of humans, babies spent all their time in close and continual contact with their mum, they get carried around everywhere," he says.
"I've done quite a lot of work in Africa and in various other places and babies are carried around with their mother all the time. They're asleep when they need to sleep and they're awake when they need to be awake, but they're constantly with their mother and that facilitates breastfeeding."
So next time you are woken at 1am, 3am and 4am try to remember this. Probably easier said than done, but science says your baby will be clever if they wake at night!