Sleeping through the night: A community survey of parents' opinions about and expectations of infant sleep consolidation

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Abstract

Aim:

This study examined parents' expectations of and opinions about infant sleep consolidation, the temporal timing and definitions of sleeping through the night and sources of advice about their infant's sleep.

Methods:

Participants were 412 parents (mean age 31 years ±6.8) with a child 2 years or younger recruited at shopping malls and other public places. Parents completed a brief survey on (i) the nocturnal duration they considered an infant should sustain uninterrupted sleep; (ii) a temporal location within the night for a criterion for sleeping through the night; (iii) their agreement or disagreement with Moore and Ucko's (1957) 24:00–05:00 h criterion defining sleeping through the night; and (iv) the sources of advice they had sought about infant's sleep.

Results:

Parents expected infants to sustain sleep on average for 9.6 ± 3.4 h, with trends indicating the more children in the family (P = 0.02; d = 0.26) and lower family socio-economic status (P = 0.01; d = 0.34) the shorter the durations expected. Sleeping through the night was defined within a temporal location from 20:00 to 06:30 h. Over 80% of parents disagreed that 24:00–05:00 h criterion defined sleeping through the night. Forty-seven per cent of parents had sought advice regarding their infants' sleep, with Child Health Care Nurses the most popular source.

Conclusions:

New Zealand parents have realistic expectations of infant capabilities for sleep consolidation that were within contemporary clinical guidelines. A new parent-based definition of sleeping through the night is presented that has social and developmental validity.

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