Sleepless nights seem like a minor price to pay during the first days with a newborn since your sole focus is how to make them as comfortable as possible. However, after a few weeks, waking up at chaotic hours every night will start to get the best of you. By the third month, you and your partner are taking turns in who pretends to sleep and who crawls out of bed to feed or change the baby. After half a year, you have no recollection of what it’s like not to be exhausted.
Sleeping through the night is typically described as six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. But keep in mind that newborns typically require 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night, depending on their age and development stage.
The good news is that if you allow them and teach them how to, most infants start sleeping through the night between 3 and 4 months of age. The goal is to prevent developing poor sleeping patterns that might last for years take a toll on your sanity.
Babies’ sleeping patterns
When your baby starts sleeping through the night is determined by numerous factors, including the baby’s age, weight, breastfeeding status, and your family’s nightly feeding practices.
Here’s their general sleeping routine during the various stages of their baby life:
- Newborn: newborns need to eat very frequently, so don’t expect them to sleep for more than two to four hours, after which they will likely start asking for nourishment
- 2-3 months: after the first two months, the baby will only need to be fed once or twice during the night, so you can expect them to sleep for five to six hours
- 4 months: by month four, your baby should be able to sleep a solid seven hours, as they don’t need to be fed during the night. That’s not to say they won’t demand an overnight “snack”, but with a bit of training, you can break the habit
- 6 months or older: by this time, your baby is physically ready to function normally without needing to be fed during the night. This is the moment when you should talk to your doctor and figure out a plan to cut down overnight feeding altogether. Sure, your baby may not like it, as babies also eat for pleasure, but you must resist their begging.
What keeps your baby up at night?
As you see, babies are, in fact, physically able to sleep through the entire night once they get to about 6 months old. However, just as some things keep us up at night, there are reasons why some babies may experience sleep regression and wake up from their rest.
Here are the most common ones:
- New milestones: As babies learn new things, they are, in fact, mastering some of those skills during the night, which may keep them awake. Also, research proves some kids can get too excited about the new things they learned and won’t be able to sleep – it happens to adults all the time as well.
- Separation anxiety: Children under the age of one do not comprehend object permanence or the concept that something can go away but return. As a result, your baby may get concerned if they wake up in the middle of the night and don’t see you, especially if you were present when they fell asleep.
- Too many naps: As they grow, babies don’t need as many naps as they did during the first two months of life. If your baby keeps waking up during the night, consider reducing their daytime naps.
- Routine disruptions: Illnesses, vacations, or changes in their routine may affect a baby’s sleep pattern. Try to keep sleeping hours as consistent as possible to prevent this.
How to shape your baby’s sleeping habits
You have more power over your baby’s sleeping patterns than you may think, and you don’t have to wait until they’re 6 months old to start promoting longer nocturnal sleep. Here’s what you can do to promote good sleeping habits:
- Set up a routine: Not only will your child find the routine soothing, but it will also serve as a signal that it is time to sleep. Start with a peaceful, relaxing bath – warm water is soothing – then continue with tales, hugs, and lullabies. Complete the process with a full feeding to avoid them waking up for the next few hours.
- Keep them active during the day: Sometimes, kids wake up at night because they have too much energy or because they are too excited, so keeping them active during the day will tire them enough to be able to sleep 4-5 hours at night.
- Keep a consistent environment: Maintain a constant nightly environment in your baby’s nursery. The noises and lighting in the room should be the same when they fall asleep and when they wake up in the middle of the night. Too much stimulation might make it difficult for them to go back to sleep
- Adjust the temperature in the room: during their first year of life, babies don’t know how to cool themselves down as adults do. If they are too hot, they may experience rashes, trouble breathing, and restless nights. If you live in a hot climate, installing air conditioning may help cool down the room before sleep. Given the wonders of the internet, it is now easier than ever to find air conditioning near me with just a simple Google search.
The Feber Method – to cry or not to cry?
The well-known Ferber Method is one kind of crying-it-out sleep training. The objective is to educate your infant on how to sleep on their own and go back asleep if they wake up in the middle of the night. It is recommended that parents wait until their kid is at least 5 or 6 months old before beginning this training.
The method entails not giving in to your baby’s first cries and gradually increasing the amount of time you wait before responding to their night sobs. Adopting this approach may be tough at first, but by day 3 or 4, you should see an improvement in your baby’s sleep routine. Within a week, the majority of parents see a significant difference.