While it’s true that some babies will eventually sleep through the night on their own, the reality is…this is not the norm for most babies. Believe it or not, sleep is actually a learned skill. Just like you will help teach your baby to eat, crawl and walk, there are definite things that you can do to help set your baby up for sleeping success! But, before I get into some practical steps, let’s discuss what ‘sleeping through the night’ even looks like.
What’s the definition of “sleeping through the night”?
It’s important to spend a minute determining what this even means. This term can be a bit misleading because it means different things to different people. For instance, many people consider ‘sleeping through the night’ to mean 8 consecutive hours of sleep. Likely because we as adults consider 8 hours a full night’s sleep. Other parents consider it to be 11 or 12 hours of sleep, which is the number of hours that most babies need. Some parents think that ‘sleeping through the night’ means their baby doesn’t wake up at all during those 11 or so hours. This is actually an unrealistic expectation, because babies will ALWAYS wake up during the night. Even we as adults wake up during the night, the only difference is that we know to go right back to sleep.
So what exactly does ‘sleeping through the night’ look like?
Your baby is technically ‘sleeping through the night’ if they can sleep around 10 hours per night(vary’s slightly based on age) without needing any assistance from you during the night to get back to sleep. Meaning when they wake up in the night(which they always will) they know how to go back to sleep on their own. Now, there is one caveat here. Your baby can be taking 1 middle of the night feed and still be considered ‘sleeping through the night’. As long as it’s a simple feed and they go right back in their crib and back to sleep when the feed is done. So, now that we have a realistic expectation of what this looks like, let’s move on to some practical steps you can take moving forward.
5 Solutions for Helping Your Baby Sleep Through the Night.
- Follow age appropriate daytime sleep schedules. To help set the stage for a good night’s sleep it’s important that your baby is getting the correct amount of sleep during the day. Following age appropriate wake windows and sleep schedules will help ensure that they don’t get too much or too little daytime sleep, which will help them sleep better at night.
- Establish a bedtime routine. This is something you can do from very early on! Babies pick up on these bedtime cues way sooner than we think so it’s never too early to start. Short, sweet and simple is best, so that you can be consistent with it every night. Keep everything calm, soothing and use this time as a way to create positive sleep associations for your baby. Also, choose an appropriate bedtime and stick with it. If your baby is 3+ months and following a schedule like I mentioned above, it’s important to keep them on track with a healthy bedtime.
- Setup the right bedroom environment. For optimal success with ‘sleeping through the night’ it’s always best to transition your baby to sleeping in their own room/crib. A calm, quiet environment is EVERYTHING! Be sure to keep the room at a comfortable temperature, using white noise when possible and making sure it stays DARK. And by dark, I really mean DARK(this is true for daytime sleep as well). Night lights aren’t necessary and if you are thinking your baby may be afraid of the dark…this doesn’t generally occur until around 2 years of age or older.
- Start weaning night feeds. If you have gotten the okay from your pediatrician to stop night feeds, I would highly recommend that you start to reduce them. But like I said above, even with one middle of the night feed, babies can still technically be considered ‘sleeping through the night’. Feeding to sleep becomes one of the biggest sleep associations because your baby gets used to you feeding them every time they wake up and cry during the night, and the longer this goes on, the harder it becomes to break. But just because they don’t NEED the feedings anymore doesn’t mean they won’t WANT them anymore. So be prepared for some “protesting” and have a plan for how exactly you will handle these “protests”. Which brings me to my last and final point…
5. Teach your baby “independent sleep” and how to self-soothe. If you believe your baby is ready to sleep through the night, and you’ve done ALL of steps 1-4 above, but they are still waking several times per night, then it might be time to consider Sleep Training. This means you start to wean them away from the sleep associations(feeding, rocking, bouncing, etc), soothe them less, and help them learn to fall asleep without help from you. When your baby wakes in the middle of the night crying, of course it’s always okay to go in and check on them if you need to. Just don’t go in so quickly, and try to limit your time in the room. Make it clear that it’s still time to sleep and not time for other things.
What if i’ve tried everything and it’s not working? How can i sleep train and get results?
The thing is, this process of unlearning sleep associations, and learning how to fall asleep without help is tough for some babies. Which in turn means that it’s tough for you Mamas too! Not all babies are equal. Some catch on quickly, some take more time. Some don’t cry very much at all, some are more “spirited”(as I like to call it) and can really put up a fight. And I know, it can be downright confusing, exhausting, and overwhelming to understand exactly what to do next and how to make progress. Maybe you’ve tried sleep training on your own, but just haven’t had any luck? Or maybe the whole process of putting all of the pieces together and figuring out the EXACT steps to take has been a bit confusing or overwhelming?
If this is you…IT’S OKAY! Sometimes we just need a little bit of guidance and the good news is I’VE GOT YOU!
I’ve put my 8 years of experience and strategies into a complete “Sleep Training Roadmap” that will walk you step-by-step through the ENTIRE sleep training process(for both nights and naps). I use a method that can be adjusted based on your comfort level with crying and it WILL get you RESULTS! I’m not here to mess around and I’m passionate about seeing both moms and babies WELL-RESTED and THRIVING. And I’m guessing since you are here reading this post, that you don’t mess around either!
So if you are a tired mom who is READY to get your baby sleeping through the night and taking longer naps so that YOU can have some “ME TIME” again…then my “Sleep Training Roadmap” is for you! I offer UNLIMITED follow up support via email as well as a private FB group. You will always have a place to get answers to any questions you may have. Let’s do this together!