5 Healthy Tips to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night
Getting your baby to sleep through the night is a common challenge among parents. As a newborn, babies need to wake every few hours to feed since their tiny tummies aren’t big enough to keep them full throughout the night. However, as your baby grows they need those nighttime feedings less. This is usually when parents expect their babies to start sleeping through the night, but things don’t always turn out as expected, leaving parents utterly exhausted and searching for solutions.
When babies begin to sleep through the night, the answer to the old question is less simple than the parents expect. Trust it, or not, actually sleep is a learned ability. Babies must learn how and when to sleep before sleeping through the night. Once they’re ready, our 5 tips will help your little one start sleeping for those longer stretches.
1. Understand Your Baby’s Sleep Needs
During the first 2 months, your newborn’s need to eat overrules their need to sleep. They may feed almost every 2 hours if you’re breastfeeding, and possibly a little less often if you bottle-feed.
Your baby may sleep from 10 to 18 hours a day, sometimes for 3 to 4 hours at a time. But babies don’t know the difference between day and night. So they sleep with no regard for what time it is. That means your baby’s wide-awake time may be from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
By 3 to 6 months, many babies are able to sleep for a stretch of 6 hours. But just as you think your baby is getting into a nice routine — usually between 6 and 9 months — normal developmental stages can throw things off. For instance, when your baby begins to associate bedtime with being left alone, they may start crying just to keep you around.
2. Establish a bedtime routine
It’s never too early to get a bedtime routine started. Your bedtime routine should be simple and sustainable, so it’s easy for you to do every night. Even the smallest change in your baby’s routine can leave them feeling off, and suddenly waking more frequently at night. Include calming, soothing activities that your baby seems to respond to, like swaddling and shushing. The bedtime routine can be where you create positive sleep associations for your baby.
3. Start weaning the night feedings
Once you get the okay from your doctor to stop night feedings, you should slowly start to reduce them. In many cases, feeding becomes a sleep association because you fed your baby every time they woke up. Just because that’s no longer necessary, doesn’t mean your baby won’t want it anymore. Slowly wean them off the night feedings (maybe try a dream feed?), feeding them less and not as frequently over a few days or a week to get them used to not feeding every time they wake.
4. Follow a schedule
Make sure your baby is getting the right amount of daytime sleep to prepare them to get the right amount of nighttime sleep. As newborns, babies can’t differentiate between day and night, they just sleep ‘round the clock. As they get older, they start sleeping longer periods, the longest stretches being at night. If they’re sleeping too much during the day they won’t stay asleep as long at night. Take a look at our sample newborn sleep schedules for some suggested guidelines.
5. Be patient
If your baby was sleeping through the night on their own before, and suddenly stopped, it might be asleep regression or growth spurt’s fault. Growth spurts usually only last a few days, and then your baby should return to normal patterns. Baby sleep regressions, including the infamous 4 months sleep regression, usually last 1-4 weeks. Be patient during times like this and focus on the fact that it won’t last.
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