Infants are capable of sleeping through the night by 3 months of age. But most textbooks, and pediatricians, will tell parents that infants should sleep through the night by 12 months of age. A new study in the Journal of Pediatrics investigated whether infants really could sleep through the night. It explored three different criteria for sleeping through the night: midnight to 5 a.m.; for eight hours; or for the eight hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. (the pattern that most likely matches the family pattern of sleep). The researchers asked parents of infants to keep sleep diaries for six days each month for a year. The infants were also monitored by a time-lapse video recorder.
Surprise! Infants are capable of sleeping through the night by 3 months of age regardless of which of the three criterion was used to define sleeping through the night. Although it was harder for infants to meet the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. goal by 3 months of age, many could do so.
After the infant is 1 month old, parents should begin planning, and working with the pediatrician, on getting the infant to sleep through the night.