When Do Babies Sleep Through The Night?
By Kerry on May 20, 2018
WHEN DO BABIES SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT?
Skip to the end 4 - 6 Months. Oh man that’s far away from birth. What happens before then? Here’s a guide to how much sleep babies should get by month.
The first two weeks: There isn’t a schedule. They eat, poop, sleep repeat. They’re just awake long enough to get their diaper changed and have a feed before they fall right back asleep.
2 weeks to 3 months:
Still no specific sleep schedule. Best to look for their non verbal cues - fussing, glazed stare, facial grimacing, clenched fists, waving arms and legs, jerking limb movements, pulling up knees, seeking comfort by sucking or feeding. Don’t worry about a schedule. Following their cues is the way to go.
3 to 4 months
This is when baby is more social and has a handle on night time vs daytime. A hint of schedule starts to appear. This creates the perfect opportunity to introduce a bedtime routine. Something no longer than 30 minutes. Bath, PJs, book, feed, bed.
4+ months There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Around now babies reduce their startle reflex, grow bigger tummies, and learn to fall back to sleep if they wake up. All things needed to help them sleep through the night.
The Elephant in the Room
Before we can talk about where baby sleeps, let’s quickly address this.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
I recommend reading this whole page. It’s the best I found when understanding what it is, potential causes, and best prevention. Just remember…
Find your happy medium.
You don’t have to do ALL the things. There is no scientific proof that breast feeding reduces SIDS. For all we know, babies who breast feed generally stay in the parents room so it’s the proximity that prevents it. Some mommas go back to work after three months so co-sleeping for 6 months to a year is impossible. This comes back to your happy medium. What works for you while keeping baby safe.
Before baby is 3 months you’ll want them to sleep wherever is convenient for you. Some like to co-sleep. There are a lot of advantages to having baby sleep with you, either literally on you or in a bassinet close by. This blog post does a good job laying out safe sleeping environments for newborns.
Nursery guidelines for best sleep conditions:
- Dark. Pitch black. You mind as well be entering a cave. Any amount of blue light will wake that baby right up. They’ll think it’s time to play. In the PNW when the sun comes up during the summer and there aren’t black out curtains expect to be, not just woken up, but AWAKE at 5AM.
- Sound machines. They don’t have to be loud to drown out the noise around them. It prevents the room from being too quiet. They’re not used to quiet. In the womb there was always a basic humming noise and heartbeat.
- Keep sleeping area (crib or floor mattress) free of any loose blankets.
Tips and tricks for baby to fall asleep and STAY asleep
- Swaddle baby for bedtime and naps. You’ve been doing this since they were born. You want to keep it up until they can roll themselves over. This minimizes the feeling of falling babies get while they sleep which causes them to wake themselves up.
- Where baby sleeps at night is where baby should nap to develop a routine of knowing their crib or floor mattress is the place they sleep. Pull those shades down and/or curtains tight, even for naps. Dark says time to sleep. Light says time to play. They’ll wake up naturally when they’re hungry.
- Put baby down in their bassinet or crib when they’re awake but sleepy, meaning don’t have them feed until they’re asleep. This helps them learn to fall asleep unaided so when they wake up in the middle of the night they can put themselves back to bed if they’re not hungry… in theory.
- If possible, try and avoid sleep aids like pacifiers. This is a tough. If the pacifier is unavoidable, once baby can grab it and put it in their own mouths have at least 5 right by their heads. This way they can find it in the middle of the night, pop it in, and go back to sleep.
All in all You’re basically recreating the womb until the transition themselves out of one thing to another. I mean even as adults some of these things are still true right? Sleeping better in the dark while having the sound of the ocean in the background sounds pretty good to me.
Make sure you have the perfect sleep haven first. Sleep training should be a last resort and should happen before baby is 2. The older they are the harder these habits are to break. Trust me.
Also, not attempt before 6 months.
Like I said earlier, babies need to develop some tricks of the trade before they can sleep through the night.
Second, only for babies NOT sleeping 8+ straight hours. If baby wakes for a 10PM feed and sleeps until 6AM - that’s through the night. They may need a 6AM feed and go back to sleep for another hour or so, but that’s good goin’.
Third, this is for babies who:
- Can’t fall asleep on their own. They need to be rocked, fed, sung to, read to, etc.
- Wake up in the middle of the night, have a sip of their bottle or nurse for a hot second then pass right back out.
- Babies who need to be weened from nighttime feedings. If you’re baby is having a full 8oz bottle, don’t just drop them to nothing. They need to transition what they eat at night to eating that during the day.
This is the best happy medium guide I’ve read online. She really lays it all out there, combining all methods with suggestions on what might work for you and why. It’s long, but worth it. It really breaks down what sleep training is, when to use it, and how to approach it.
There are a lot. The most common or well known is the Ferber Metho. It gets a negative rep as “The Cry it Out Method” (CIO). Most of everything I just said up top, comes from that book. This is not a method to let your child cry until their vomiting. This is about helping your child fall asleep unaided, so when they wake up in the middle of the night, not hungry, they can roll over and fall back asleep all by themselves. My daughter needed this. She pushed for more of everything. More water, more songs, more books, more more more more. I tried the soft methods. CIO was a LAST resort, and the only thing that worked. I only did it because the crying was never continuous. It was periodic sobs until they disappeared into her talking or sometimes singing herself to sleep.
This did NOT work for my son - or maybe it would have, but his cries were stressful and continuous. It tunred out he always needed something, usually more milk. The sleep haven, routine, and time is what worked for him.
Products of the trade
Blackout Curtains I’ve tried a few, and the best I found were the Pillow Fort ones from Target. Make sure they say blackout, not room-darkening. Their not the same.
Sound Machine Some people I know just used a Sonos speaker and iPhone app. For an actual sound machine there’s this one. The nice thing about this one is you can take it on the go.
Swaddle Alternative My son was frickin’ Houdini. Always managed to get at least one arm out of the swaddle so he could suck on his hand. This little sleep sack gave him his hands and kept him enclosed which alleviated the startle.
This is the start of a beautiful friendship
As millennial mommas we have different challenges than our parents and grandparents. We have too much information at our fingertips and everyone has opinions about “the right way” to raise YOUR baby.
The only person who knows how to raise your baby, is you. There is no right or wrong way. There is no this or that. There is no ALL or nothing.
There is however, a happy medium.
You do you.
You got this.