Why don't babies know how to sleep?
November 28, 2010 11:09 AM Subscribe
Why do babies/young children need help falling asleep? Why do most of them need to be taught or trained to sleep through the night?
posted by xo to science & nature (17 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Of course there are those that do not, but for the most part, babies need assistance with overnight sleep. First, they are rocked and bounced and shushed and strolled. Then they get taught to fall asleep without movement in a safe bed. Still they wake up throughout the night, even after they no longer need night feedings. They are then taught not to wake through controlled amounts of comforting/crying. Or they co-sleep and get settled back to sleep by a parent. They wake up after 20-minute catnaps, to everyone's dismay. They have bedtime routines, stories, songs, baths... all to support healthy and solid nighttime sleep. Why doesn't solid sleep come as naturally as learning to walk does?
Has this always been the way, even before electric light? What would happen if a child was never taught to sleep? Suppose they lived in a community where some caring adult was always up, would sleep eventually consolidate on its own?