“I wish I’d known that its normal for babies to wake through the night. I fully expected her to be sleeping through by 12 weeks. Now I understand that actually it's normal to wake, and it safeguards her, I totally accept it.”

Waking Regularly At Night is normal

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We know that lower rates of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is associated with breastfeeding but the reason for the association is not always clear. It is thought that the way breastfeeding babies sleep may be part of the story – that breastfeeding babies rouse more naturally and they benefit from increased maternal-infant interaction.

Research suggests 50% of all UK babies have shared their parents’ bed by the time they are 3 months old. Figures for breastfeeding babies appear to be much higher, 70-80%.


When we consider the relative immaturity of the human infant - we are born relatively ‘early’ compared to other mammals - and the constituents of human milk, we can see that human babies need to feed regularly and they are dependent on close promixity.


Close proximity helps regulate temperature and breathing rate. The cultural expectation that breastfeeding parents sleep separately from their babies doesn’t appear to fit with the evolutionary perspective.

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Further Reading

Kellymom

"It’s so common for mothers to worry when their babies don’t sleep through the night. First, please ignore what everyone else says about your baby’s sleep habits and what is “normal.” It is common for breastfed babies to not sleep through the night for a long period of time. On the other hand, some breastfed babies start sleeping through the night when a few months old."

Baby Sleep Information Source

"This website presents research evidence about biologically normal sleep for human babies."

Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame

Night waking among

breastfeeding mothers

and infants

"What I am speculating about is that perhaps mothers evolved to induce arousals (to have her baby feed) because lots of arousals for several rea- sons increase an infant’s chance for survival, as well as help protect mothers from a variety of diseases not the least among them are breast and ovarian cancers."

La Leche League

"The lowest SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) rates in the world are in countries where bedsharing is traditional, for instance parts of Asia and South Asia. It doesn’t seem to be a matter of geography, as when people from low-risk cultures move to other countries and bring their traditions with them they also tend to bring a low rate of SIDS."

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