Is your baby not sleeping genetic?

Your baby not sleeping could be related to your own history of sleep problems

Some interesting new research about premature babies not sleeping has just come out and I wanted to share it with you.

The study of 105 mothers of premature babies at the University of British Columbia studied babies were now between five and six months but who had been born between 26 and 36 weeks. The babies did not have any congential abnormalities of developmental delays.

The researchers gave mothers a survey to test their attachment style, their perceptions of baby waking and how active they were in their initial trying to settle their baby (that is, how much rocking, cuddling and settling in the parents’ beds was done).

The findings

While the study was quite small (and only of premature babies) there were a bunch of interesting findings:

  • About half the mothers reported sleep problems in their babies, 17.2% said they were serious.
  • Night time wakings ranged from 0-10 times and duration of wakings ranged from 0 minutes to four hours!
  • Mothers who used more active ways to get babies to sleep in the first place (lots of rocking, cuddling and settling in parents’ bed) were more likely to report sleep problems.
  • Mothers who themselves had a history of sleep problems had babies with night waking lasting about one half hour longer, on average than babies of mothers without a history of sleep problem.
  • First born infants had fewer wakings than later born siblings.

So what can we take from all that?

Well, first of all, that baby sleep problems are incredibly common. So, don’t feel alone if you’re dealing with this issue tonight; you’re one of hundreds of thousands of mothers across the globe.

Secondly, if you’ve had your own history of sleep problems, you might experience more problems with your baby’s sleep. This is obviously not happy news but it does mean that you can be on the watch out for it early, try and set up good sleep habits and routines and try and get ahead of the problem. And also that it’s ok to ask for help as soon as you feel you need it – your baby might be genetically predisposed to have sleeping problems.

Regarding the active ways to settle a baby, I’m obviously not an advocate of leaving your baby to cry, but I think this study is a good reminder that it’s always worth giving your baby a few minutes to try and self-settle before rushing in and cuddling and rocking them. Wrap them up (or zip them into their bag or tuck them in if they’re no longer being wrapped) and say, “Night Night!” and just give them a moment to wind down. Listen to them and you can always go in later if they can’t settle on their own.

And I’m not surprised that first born infants had fewer wakings – I think this is partly because mothers of more than one will go to settle their baby quicker (and probably report more problems) because they are very understandably worried about the other baby waking up.

I’m fascinated by research into babies not sleeping. Does this research make sense to you? Or does it go counter to your expectations? Let me know by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

All the best


PS: If you think someone you know might get something out of this article, I’d love it if you’d share it on social media.

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