What is normal for infant & toddler sleep?

What is normal for infant and toddler sleep-My baby is 13 months and currently has 4 teeth coming in.  Which means constant whining and fussing unless I am holding or nursing him.  Fast forward to bedtime and he’s up every 1-2 hours wanting to be held and nursed….I am one tired mama!

But I know that this is considered normal sleep at this stage.  This teething phase will be over soon and he’ll back to sleeping for 3-5 hour stretches, which is also normal for a breastfed infant or toddler.

Since he was born, everyone asks “Is he a good baby?” “How is he sleeping for you?” “Is he sleeping through the night?”  I’m never sure how to answer those first two questions…what defines a good baby?  I know that breastfed babies tend to wake more frequently since breastmilk is digested quickly, so he is sleeping about as well as I expected.  But when it comes to sleeping through the night, it is definitely a “no”.  And I’m okay with that.

Full disclosure: I’m a lactation consultant and have a pretty good understanding of infant behavior, especially in respect to feeding and sleep.  But the constant questioning about my baby’s sleep can get to me and make me wonder whether I’m doing something wrong or if something is wrong with my baby.

Normally when I have a parenting question, I do what most parents do and head to Dr. Google.  I was recently contacted by Tuck Sleep Foundation to check out their website as a resource for sleep behavior, and I was pleasantly surprised to find all the information I could ever want to know about sleep in one place, plus links to other sleep websites.  Their Parent’s Guide to Healthy Sleep has lots of details on common sleep problems in infants and young children, as well as tips to help develop healthy sleep habits.

While I know he won’t instantly start sleeping through the night, the website definitely helped to identify some things that I could change to encourage him to sleep more at night.  In the future, I will try creating a more consistent bedtime routine (rather than playing til he gets sleepy) and avoiding naps close to bedtime–he always falls asleep on the way home from daycare, so I’ll try to wake him up by 6pm.  Wish me luck!

What tips do you have for helping children sleep through the night?

Any tips for helping tired parents survive this stage?

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