We're sure you've had at least one friend whose baby started sleeping through the entire night right off the bat. But before you get super-jealous, remember that lots of parents totally exaggerate their baby's achievements—especially in the sleep arena. Your idea of "sleeping through the night" may be sleeping from 11 PM to 7 AM; to your braggin' best friend, it may mean sleeping from 1 AM to 5 AM straight.
But let's move the politics of parenting aside! During the first few months of your baby's life, you're going to wonder if you'll ever get a solid eight hours of sleep again. Here's what you need to know to make that dream a reality.
The age at which babies manage to sleep through the night varies greatly.
Typically, babies wake up two to three times every night from birth to six months and once or twice a night from six months to a year. But some babies will still wake up in the night from one to two years. Eventually, your baby will be awake for more time during the day and less time at night. Keep in mind: It's hard to predict when that glorious day will arrive.
Your newborn isn't waking up just because he's hungry.
In addition to hunger, baby's sleep patterns just aren't developed enough to let him sleep through the night. This is why the "cereal at bedtime" advice can be wrong—it usually won't affect a young baby's sleeping habits.
You can't force a baby to sleep through the night, but you can start laying the groundwork for healthy sleep habits.
Create an environment that's conducive to sleep and teach your baby that sleep is a good state—not scary and lonely. Eventually, your baby will learn how to fall asleep on her own.
Humans need routine and babies are no exception.
Your baby will find it easier to develop good sleep habits if you maintain consistent bedtime routines. Try having a "calm-down" period at the end of the day by giving him a massage or a warm bath in a dimly lit room. Then, try to help baby fall asleep by walking, rocking in a rocking chair, or cuddling or nursing him. As your baby gets older, put him in bed before he's totally asleep, so he'll master falling asleep on his own.
Create a soothing environment.
Some parents may learn that their babies sleep longer if there are calming background noises like a bubbling fish tank, waterfall or ocean sounds, a "womb sounds" tape, a ticking clock or metronome, or other kinds of white noise.
Make a clear distinction between daytime and nighttime.
Lower the lights during your 3 AM feedings and avoid too much chit-chat. Night-lights are good for keeping the light level minimal.
If your baby wakes up in the night, try to figure out what caused her to wake up.
Maybe she's hungry, wet, hot, cold, irritated by her pajamas or suffering from a medical issue (a fever, a stuffy nose, an ear infection or gastro-esophageal reflux)?
If your baby is almost one and still isn't sleeping through the night, you may want to consider helping her to master the skill.
Many parents believe that their patience and enjoyment of parenting is being compromised by sleeplessness, so they're willing to try any solution. However, others feel that trying the "cry it out" methods of training a baby to sleep through the night would be to painful for the baby and themselves.report abuse