When will my baby sleep through the night? Is cry it out technique a good idea? Is breastfeeding preventing my baby from sleeping at night? Many mums ask these questions at some point, especially if they’re getting frustrated from lack of sleep or they know that they’ll have to go back to work soon and they need to get some rest at night in order to perform well the next day. Some babies sleep better than others. Some are sleeping through at few weeks old and some are still waking up at night when they’re 3, 4 or 5 years old.
When will my baby sleep through the night?
This might sound like a very stupid answer, but: as soon as they’re ready. There’s not much you can do about it. Actually, the best thing you can do is being patient, accept your baby’s need for being with you at night and wait. Your baby needs to feel safe and to know that you’re always there for her in case she needs you. It’s your job to make sure she feels loved and cared for all the time. You can help her feel safe by constantly reminding her that you’re there, watching over her all the night. It’s not true that you spoil your little baby by picking her up all the time. As soon as she charges herself with you, your love and attention, she’ll become more independent. It’s also about her personality. You can’t expect her to be the same as your neighbour’s baby. I’m sure she’s a lot better than other babies you know but maybe in a different perspective. Isn’t she?
The “Let your baby cry it out” advice
When your baby cries, stress hormones are being released to her body. Those hormones are toxic for her brain in higher levels. The truth is, you’ll never know how much of cry is harmful for your baby and how much is ok. You will never know for sure. You feel bad when your baby cries, your own body is telling you to do something about it, so always listen to your body & follow your instincts. Your baby won’t be waking up at night forever. The time will come when you’ll wish for her to call you at night or to come to your bed, once she’s all grown up. Enjoy her while you still can, as much as you can. It’s not always easy, but you’re a supermum and supermums can do anything!
Will my baby sleep better if I stop breastfeeding at night?
Stopping breastfeeding at night doesn’t mean that your baby will sleep better. In fact, it usually leads to more trouble than benefits. If you’re happy that your baby’s drinking your milk and receiving not only nutritional value from it but also all the rest of the benefits breastfeeding presents, you shouldn’t try to wean your baby for night time. Breastfeeding at night is important for maintaining your milk supply.
However, in case your baby is waking up too often (e.g. every 20-40) mins, you can try to postpone first night feed to early morning hours. This advice will work for some babies but not for all.
You might consider postponing first night feed:
- If your baby is waking up too often (for example every 20-40 mins)
- Co-sleeping is not working for you for any reason (so you need to get up to your baby every few minutes, feed her, wait for her to fall asleep and put her down to bed)
- Your baby is more than 6 months old
- Your baby is well established on solids, has had fair portion of food in the evening & milk/drink at night time (you’re 100% sure baby’s not hungry or thirsty)
- Your baby is happy, healthy and you’re sure there’s nothing else bothering her
How to do it?
Usually, first sleep span is the longest. E.g. if you know that your baby is able to sleep from 8pm to 2am, don’t feed your baby before 2am. If she wakes up at 1, put her back down to sleep without feeding – given that she’s otherwise happy, healthy, has had a good meal and drink before going to bed etc. If you know she’s able to sleep till 3am, don’t feed before 3am. This way the sleep spans should start getting longer and your baby will only wake up if she really needs the feed, not every 20 minutes.
Of course, when your baby finds out that the pattern has changed and she’s not getting what she wanted, she’s going to cry. Do everything you can to calm her down as soon as possible. Your baby needs to know that you’re there for her and she has your full attention, but you want her to go back to sleep without the feed (and stay asleep when put down to bed.) Some babies get the message within 30-50 minutes or even sooner and go back to sleep. Than the sleeping pattern starts improving from one night to another and you’ll finally be able to get some sleep. Some other babies won’t “accept” your message and you’ll need to wait for a lot longer for them to learn to sleep.
When’s my baby ready for her own room?
The most common advice is that your baby should stay with you in the same room for at least first six months. On the other hand, it’s very individual and all depends on you, your baby and her sleeping pattern, your partner etc. The point is that your baby needs to feel safe at night time. For some babies, the only way to feel safe is sleeping with you in the same bed. Some are happy enough to sleep in the same room in their own bed (like my son with distance alarm – waking up as soon as the distance between him and me exceeds 2m) and some are happy to sleep in the separate room because you’re not disturbing them (for example by snoring) and they know that you’ll be there for them as soon as they wake up and call to you. They have no reason to cry and to feel insecure, they wake up, say “eee” and wait for you to come and pick them up. Yes, babies like this really do exist, the key is to attend to them every time they call you from the day they’re born.
Read the first part of our Baby & Sleeping series and third part all about bedtime rituals and teaching your baby the difference between night & day.
Article about communication with the baby might help you too: How to teach baby happiness or communication with a baby in early days.