Is sleeping through the night a developmental milestone that all children will eventually reach when they are ready?
GREAT question! The short answer is NO. Sleeping through the night is NOT a developmental milestone. See, here is a non-comprehensive list of examples of age-specific developmental milestones: rolling, sitting up, standing up, crawling, walking, talking, reading, playing with other children.
I should mention that sleeping through the night without milk IS a developmental milestone. The medical community concludes this can safely happen by 6-8 months of age with healthy babies. But simply sleeping through the night is not a milestone.
Some babies are able to sleep through the night from a VERY early age, while other children are still waking up at night when they’re in preschool! Sleep is a *skill* that comes more naturally to some babies and children than it does to others. However, the most high-needs baby can still learn how to sleep well if the right tools are provided. If your older baby or child is still waking up at night, the problem is likely connected to your baby’s sleep habits.
Here’s a list of factors that could be causing your baby to still wake up at night:
- Sleep environment isn’t optimal
- Improper daytime scheduling
- Reliance on any sleep prop (e.g. nursing, rocking, patting, sitting near child to sleep)
- Daytime nutrition that isn’t optimal
- Issues that pertain to emotional well-being
Your child’s development is not related to any of these factors. You can always make big changes to your child’s sleep habits with a solid sleep plan, regardless of how old your child is.
If you are falling on your face from exhaustion, you don’t need to wait for that magical day to come when your child decides to sleep through the night. Sleeping uninterrupted at night is not a developmental milestone. We don’t know how long you’ll be waiting for that day to arrive. So if you’re ready to start sleeping better, there’s no better time like the present to make changes!
What can you do to start improving your little one’s sleep?
- Ensure his sleep environment is optimal;
- Familiarize yourself with the daytime and nighttime sleep requirements are for your little one’s age range;
- Ensure daytime nutrition is optimal;
- Get your little one on an age-appropriate routine or schedule; and
- Teach your little one how to fall asleep independently!