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From Bad Sleeper to Good Sleeper

Sleep expert Heather Turgeon, co-author of "The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep—Newborn to School Age," will fix your family's sleep problems in this space as she does in her home consultations. Turgeon's solutions are nonjudgmental, kind and—best of all—based on science.

No situation is too challenging. Leave your sleep problem in the comments or on the mom.me Facebook page. Let's all get a good night's sleep, finally.

Dear Heather,

My friend's baby is sleeping eight hours straight and mine is up every two hours. Do I just have a bad sleeper?

Thanks,

Part-Time Sleeper

Dear PTS,

There's nothing worse than being up all night long and then having to compare notes at the park with the mom of a natural-born sleeper.

There are many possible reasons for "good" versus "bad" sleepers in the first 6 months of life. One is the good sleeper's biological programming (a quickly maturing nervous system and deeper, smoother sleep cycles).

RELATED: When to Take the Pacifier Away

Just like other developmental processes, sleep comes online at each child's individual pace, so in the first 6 months there's no timeline to which every baby adheres. Whether a baby pulls an 8-hour stretch of sleep at 10 weeks or is feeding every 2-3 hours at this age is not much of a predictor of her sleep future. Babies need time to mature. Feeding on demand and following their lead during these months is key.

After the age of 6 months, the deciding factor in good and bad sleepers is more about habit than biology. Does the baby go into her sleeping place at the beginning of the night awake—as a conscious participant in bedtime, finding her own comfortable sleeping position, lovey, and so forth? Or does she fall asleep and then get moved or placed into her crib without her knowledge?

RELATED: Expert Advice on Reversing Sleep Regression

All babies wake up in the night. The ones who were conscious at the moment of going to bed and figured out how to get comfortable can go naturally to that comfort when they wake. If they feed at night, they can usually go right back into their cribs and get comfy again after the feeding. Bedtime habits are the place to start, because they set the tone for the rest of the night,

Sleep happy,

Heather

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Image via Twenty20/OpusRouge

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