When will my baby sleep through the night? How many times have you asked yourself this question?
At 8 weeks old our daughter was sleeping from 11pm – 9 am straight and at 4 months old 8pm to 8pm. Yes she is an amazing sleeper but not only.
The most common comment I received after “you are so lucky” is probably “you have such an easy baby”.
TRUE and FALSE. She was such an easy going newborn in so many ways. Although, sleeping through the night is also a matter of process and method. It does not come by magic.
WHERE DOES THE NEWBORN SLEEP?
The first weeks and months, it is recommended to have baby sleep in a bassinet (or small appropriate bed) in the same room as the parents. For convenience reasons, but also to ease the transition with the in-utero life to the outside world and prevent the risks of SIDS.
Co-Sleeping. I can’t really say I am against, too touchy. This is extremely common in the US and Japan. It is not recommended elsewhere.
I don’t want to debate about it. Everyone has its own opinion. You just need to know that Co-sleeping (besides security concerns) is creating the opposite effect you are looking for if you want to have your baby to sleep through the night.
THE FIRST FEW WEEKS
You know too well baby’s schedule. It’s sleeping and eating, days and nights. Each sequence is short.
So early in age, the sleep cycle is divided in two phases:
- Agitated sleep,
- Calm sleep.
During the first phase, your baby will move, emit sounds and appear agitated. Don’t be tempted to wake her up or to calm her down or you would prevent the second sleeping phase to take place.
If baby does not sleep more than 30mn, it’s because she does not transition between the two stages. It can be due to reflux, constipation or colic. Be patient, it will come.
AT TWO MONTHS
Now, a 24h pace can take place. Little by little the sleeping phases are settling thanks to brain maturation and understanding of the environment (day light, night light, active time, eating habits).
Baby may still appear agitated in the first sleep phase. Like previously mentioned, do not pick her up. This is a most normal thing.
AT THREE MONTHS
The sleep evolves. Babies are slowly and calmly falling asleep until the slow wave sleep phase. Each time a cycle is complete, they wake up and (supposedly) go back to sleep, just like us. This is when baby is not sleeping through the night!
It is physiological: from three months of age, babies are able to sleep 6 to 8 hours straight at night.
Too often, parents think that baby cries at night because of hunger. You need to understand that around 3 to 4 months old, a baby has rarely the need to eat in the middle of the night if well fed during the day (please, advise with your pediatrician first).
“Baby does not sleep, help !!”, “He screams for hours at night, we tried everything, any suggestions?”, “she won’t fall asleep before 3am, I am exhausted”, “baby will not put herself to sleep” and so on.
Like previously said, babies as much as adults, wake up between sleeping cycles and go right back to sleep. At one condition: depending on what’s going on during the day!
If baby is used to fall asleep in your arms, by nursing or taking a bottle, in a bouncer…etc, during the day, she will need to have the same process at night.
Falling asleep and falling back to sleep is a LEARNING PROCESS. They need to learn how to fall asleep by themselves.
I am a mom like you. I know how good it feels to have baby falling asleep in our arms. But If you want baby to learn how to fall asleep on her own, here is the process to follow:
- Wait until signs of fatigue show up, (red eyes, rubbing eyes, fussiness…)
- When still awake, put baby to bed (crib, bassinet or usual and appropriate place to sleep for a baby),
- You can expect her to cry. Let her do so. For a few minutes (C-mon…more than 2 mn). You can try 5 mn the first night, 10 mn the second, etc.
- If it lasts, you can go check on baby and reassure her with your presence and your voice. DO NOT PICK BABY UP !
Little by little baby will cry less and after a few days learn to put herself to sleep and sleep through the night.
Follow the exact same process in the middle of the night.
STILL NOT WORKING
Yes, it happens. Some babies are more resistant and stubborn. It does not make it impossible.
If you are having troubles at night. Just go back to the very beginning: apply the same process but during the day first, for nap times.
By doing so, day after day, baby will understand there is another way to fall asleep and will absorb the whole concept. This will make it much easier at night.
Note that the older you infant is, the more difficult it will be for the two of you. This will be a new big change to get used to, it may require more time.
- Help baby understand the difference between days and nights: PJs is not ideal during the day! I personally always dressed my daughter in the morning and put the pajama on after her bath at night since she was born.
- I read that the last feeding might not help if baby is sensitive to wet diapers, she might get uncomfortable at night.
- FOLLOW THE PROCESS !
- DON’T GIVE UP!
You might not like many of my advice and I understand. I’m not an expert, but I used this method as many other mothers in France. It worked for us and for thousands of others. Who said parenthood was the easiest thing?