As a new parent, it's the number one question I am asked, and the question is kinda whack... What does it mean? Is it a marker of success when she can sleep through the night? Does this make them a good baby or a naughty baby? Don't tell Santa but our baby does not always sleep through the night! When she was a few weeks old she would sleep for long stretches, there were some nights when she gave us an 8 hour stint without waking up to nurse. She slept so much because she was growing so much, she gained a pound a week for a while there! I always joked that any pro athlete would kill for her growth hormone.
On many scales she is still a really great sleeper. She will only wake up 2 or 3 times to nurse and then fall right back asleep... this varies due to teething etc. But I'll admit, lately it's been a bit of a bear! She is up late until 10:30-11 at night, no matter how many naps or what time she woke up that day... this past weekend with all the activity at the shore, her sleeping "blueprint" was all screwed up and by Sunday I felt like trash. So I decided to poke around to see what I could see, and all that I could see was.... the other side of the mountain, the other side of the mountain, the other side of the mOOOOuntain (sleep deprivation + children's music = bad joke)
Here is what I found. These articles from Dr. Sears website gave us a lot of new options and tools to help us through these challenging milestone moments.
31 ways to get your baby to go to sleep at night, by Dr. Sears
Night Weaning, by Dr. Sears
Co-sleeping Research and it's benefits, by Dr. Sears
Through my search I also heard about the book The Wonder Weeks and it's website. They discuss how baby's development will often determine their sleep habits, or schedule. The idea is that while working on a new milestone, or development, the baby may be more awake and sleep less as they practice this new skill. Then a day or so later they may crash and sleep and sleep in order to catch up on all the rest they missed. This made me laugh as I thought back to her first few weeks and how there were some days where it seemed like she would NOT sleep! Then poof a few days later we would keep checking on her as she slept and slept for long stretches... Begin aware of this idea brought me a greater sense of ease and compassion. Anyway here's what I found about Baby sleep regression.
8,9,10 month old Baby Sleep Regression
More on Sleep Regression
baby developmental milestones
And for more of a community outlook on the subject, check out the forums on Mothering.com!
Ultimately, Dr. Sears makes a good point- have heart and remember that they are only this age once and it goes by fast, you will have plenty of time when they are older to have a perfect night's sleep. So cherish every moment (even if those moments stink and you are at the end of your rope) and of course ask your community of family, and spouse for help.
Good luck and happy sleeping!