Parental behavior and infant sleep patterns can vary widely both within and between cultures and settings. Breastfeeding during the second half-year of infancy has been associated with frequent night waking, which is perceived as sleep problem among the Western societies. An understanding of sleeping patterns among breastfed infants during the second half-year of infancy is important in supporting continued breastfeeding.
The study aimed to investigate the sleeping patterns among breastfed infants during second half-year of infancy.
This is a cross-sectional study. Three hundred and forty-two mothers of 6–12 months old breastfed infants completed the questionnaires on socio-demographic factors, breastfeeding practices, and infant sleeping patterns, which were assessed by using the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire (BISQ). The Cox regression model was used to assess the factors that were associated with night sleep duration whereas demographic factors and breastfeeding practices that were associated with night waking frequency were investigated using the Poisson regression model.
On average, the breastfed infants slept for 11 h during the night and most infants were reported to have night waking (96.8%) and were breastfed at least once at night (93.5%). In the adjusted analyses, infants in the age group 9–12 months were less likely to sleep longer compared to infants in the 6–8 months age group [HR 1.52 95% CI (1.17, 1.98)]. A one-hour increase in daytime sleep and in night wakefulness increased the likelihood of waking up at night by 19% and 24%, respectively. Infants who had been vaccinated within the last 7 days and infants who were breastfed to sleep were more likely to have a shorter nighttime sleep duration. Nighttime breastfeeding frequency was significantly associated with a 17% increase in the likelihood of night waking [IRR 1.17 95% CI (1.13, 1.22)]. Infants who slept on their parents’ bed were 1.28 times more likely to wake up at night compared to infants who slept in a separate room [IRR 1.28 95% CI (1.05, 1.59)]. Infants of parents who reported that their infants’ sleep was not a problem were 34% less likely to wake up compared to infants of parents who reported that their infants’ sleep was a problem [IRR 0.66 95% CI (0.49, 0.87)].
Conclusions for Practice
Frequent night waking, bed sharing and night breastfeeding were common among 6–12 months old breastfed infants. Frequent night breastfeeding may lengthen an infant’s nighttime sleep duration. The study findings indicate that adequate information and support should be given to breastfeeding mothers in relation to the sleeping pattern of breastfed infants in order to promote continued breastfeeding practices.