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My son is now almost 12 months old and he still doesn't sleep through the night regularly. Maybe one night a month he will sleep from 7pm->6.30am without waking, and that's only if he's utterly exhausted.

Otherwise he still wakes up once a night, at either 9pm, 11.30pm or 2am. Sometimes he's hungry and polishes off a whole bottle, other times he's not hungry at all. There never seems to be any consitancy that we can spot, even though we keep his morning routine and evening routine to the minute, every single day of the week.

I was rather hoping that by this stage he would be sleeping through 5-6 nights a week.

Is there any sort of "standard" age that they should start sleeping through?

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Does your son nap regularly? Have you tried getting rid of the nap or shortening it? –  Rhea Mar 31 '11 at 2:28
    
@Rhea - he has two naps a day, 11.20am and 3pm and he's not consistant with how well he sleep. We're thinking of dropping it back to just one nap - but mainly because he hates napping. –  Mark Henderson Mar 31 '11 at 2:50
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Looking at the families I know, this varies wildly so there's not much point stating numbers, it would set false expectations and cause more trouble than benefit. I don't want to vote to close the question, but it's a borderline case because I feel there can't be a right answer, except to say betwen one and four years of age, which doesn't help at all. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 31 '11 at 8:15
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@torbengb I would argue that "between one and four years of age" or "There isn't a standard age" IS part of a useful answer. –  W5VO Mar 31 '11 at 12:36
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@torbengb I think this actually is a good answer –  redclover Apr 7 '11 at 8:54

4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It's counter-productive to put a standard age on this - it's hugely dependent on your child and to a certain extent your home environment.

My son slept through from 4 months or so, a good friends child still doesn't sleep reliably at 6 years old.

However, reducing the number of naps during the day would probably help. It he's not tired, he's not going to physically need the sleep.

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Anecdotal counterargument to reducing the number of naps: my daughter had trouble sleeping at night because she was tired. Making sure she was rested fully throughout the day, helped her sleeping through the night. It still does and she is two and a half now –  Tim H May 10 '11 at 9:49
    
I'd say it is hugely dependent on the child AND on the home environment. It is simple to sabotage a child's sleeping habits, for example, by teaching non-infants to require your presence to fall asleep. –  Peter DeWeese Jun 29 '11 at 5:38

I've never heard of doctors or psychologists using sleeping through the night as a milestone or indicator of progress in childhood development, if that's what you're asking.

I have 5 kids and they all started sleeping through the night at different ages. In general, though, our kids have started sleeping much better as they've neared 2 years old. Sometimes they go through phases where they wake up a few nights in a row.

Each child is very different. For example, we have a 3 year old that still wakes up 1-2 times a night, while our 5 year old started sleeping through the night when he turned 2 and almost never wakes up. We just let our 3 year old sleep with us if/when he wakes up, because he seems to be much happier and we tend to get more sleep.

Co-sleeping was a life saver for us, especially before 1 years old, because the babies seemed to wake up a lot less when they were sleeping with us. We usually put them to bed in their crib, then the first time they woke up (which was usually when we're about to go to sleep) we would bring them to bed with us. My wife has breast fed all the kids for 18-24 months, so co-sleeping allowed her to feed the babies without her or them having to wake up completely.

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I'm asking more for my own sanity than anything else ;) My wife and I refuse to co-sleep (for a variety of reasons, biggest one being safety cos I'm a very very deep sleeper), but thanks for the advice. –  Mark Henderson Mar 31 '11 at 2:51

When our twins were about 3.5 months old they started sleeping 12 hours a night. I can't recommend the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child enough. My wife found out about the book from our local "Twin Club" and it was a life-saver. In it, the author discusses a number of sleep strategies, but basically (in his opinion) sleeping through the night starts with the child taking healthy naps. We've since used the book with our third, and he too started sleeping through the night around 3.5 - 4 months.

A warning; it does take a little bit of work on your part to make sure that all caregivers are on the same page with respect to naps and bedtimes, especially when getting started. We've also found that continuing to refer back to the book as our children have grown has helped as well so they get enough sleep based upon their ages.

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Here's some advice that says about half of all children under five go through some periods of night waking:

http://www.nhs.uk/Planners/birthtofive/Pages/Commonsleepproblems.aspx

It also has some advice about finding out what's causing the waking, and how to deal with it.

  • Is it hunger? If your child is a year or older, some cereal and milk last thing at night might help them to sleep through the night.
  • Are they afraid of the dark? You could use a nightlight or leave a landing light on.
  • Is your child waking up because of night fears or bad dreams? If so, try to find out if something is bothering them.
  • Is your child too hot or too cold? Adjust their bedclothes or the heating in the room and see if that helps.

If there’s no obvious cause, and your child continues to wake up, cry or demand company, you could try some of the following suggestions:

  • Scheduled waking. If your child wakes up at the same time every night, try waking them 15-60 minutes before this time, then settling them back to sleep.
  • Let your child sleep in the same room as a brother or sister. If you think your child may be lonely, and their brother or sister doesn’t object, put them in the same room. This can help them both sleep through the night.
  • Teach your child to get back to sleep by themselves. First check that everything is alright. If it is, settle your child down without talking to them too much. If they want a drink, give them water but don’t give them anything to eat. For this approach to work, you need to leave them in their cot or bed. Don't take them downstairs or into your bed. Let them cry for around five minutes before you check on them. Over the next few nights, gradually increase the amount of time you leave them before checking. It might take a week or two but if you keep the routine going, your child should start falling asleep on their own.
  • Tackle it together. If you have a partner, agree between you how to tackle your child’s sleeping problems. You don’t want to try to decide what to do in the middle of the night. If you've both agreed what's best for your child, it’ll be easier to stick to your plan.

(My personal opinion is that controlled crying techniques need to be done with more care and routine than tis suggested in this list.)

Cutting back naps may not work:

http://www.midwivesonline.com/parents/parents1//73////?ttl=i3&page=babysleep

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Original Poster has my sympathy - my one year old wakes about 4 times a night every night, and is wide awake and ready to get out of bed at 5:00am (which we've just pushed back from 4:00am). mods - delete this if too chatty, thanks. –  DanBeale Aug 8 '11 at 8:11

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