We all want our children, and especially our babies, to sleep. No one wants it more than the mommy of a baby who just isn’t sleeping. Sleep. Long. Blissful. Sleep. Is that really too much to ask?
Well yes, sometimes it is. I have learned that when a mom uses the phrase sleeping through the night (STTN) it is always best to ask them exactly what that means. I’ve had moms tell me their 3-month-old is sleeping through the night only to find out that they are sleeping 5-7 hours, which in the medical field is sleeping through the night. But in the mom world that is not sleeping through the night.
Sleeping through the night means you put your baby down for the night. And he sleeps until morning. That’s 11-12 hours! It means that for 11-12 hours you do not see or feed that lovely little face. It means that instead of going into his room to feed him you get to stay in your bed and look at cute baby pictures before you fall asleep, and you get to sleep uninterrupted till morning.
While there are a small percentage of babies who can STTN around 5 months of age, 9 months is much more common. By nine months a baby can physical handle 12 hours at night without eating. And because expectations are everything, let’s just expect our babies to be waking once to eat until 9 months of age. I always refer to the baby’s pediatrician to know exactly how long a specific baby can go at night without eating. Below you will find some general guidelines that I follow to make sure the baby is getting enough to eat, and therefore avoiding habitual or comfort wakings.
At birth your baby may need to eat every 2-3 hours at night. By 4-6 weeks your baby should be giving you a solid 4-6 hour stretch at night. By 4 months of age I like to see 2 feeds, but every now and again a third early morning feed sticks around. Starting at 5 months I like to see no more than two feedings happening at night. Somewhere between 5-8 months that will drop down to one feeding at night. And finally, by 9 months of age babies can drop the last feeding. Again, many babies can drop feeds much sooner than this and it is important that you discuss night feedings with your pediatrician to establish the ideal number of feedings for your baby.
If your baby is on two feeds at night, I would aim for the first feed no earlier than midnight, and the second feed around 4am. If your baby is only feeding once at night, aim to feed your little dreamer no earlier than 2am. These times are calculated for baby who is on a 7-7 schedule. If your baby is waking more often there are a number of possible reasons why. I would check out Baby Not Sleeping Through the Night? Here’s Why!
Even though your baby may not be ready to sleep a full 12 hours at night, you can still be working on sleep routines, schedules, and overall sleep quality to help your baby drop those night wakings as soon as possible. Mentally prepare for your baby to need one feed until about 9 months, and then do your part and pray it arrives sooner!
Occasionally you may notice your baby is waking more frequently at night than normal. This is typically a sleep regression, and sleep regressions are just plain awful. You may know your child is in the midst of a sleep regression if he is waking more frequently at night,
resisting bedtime, taking longer to fall asleep for naps, or taking shorter naps. There are generally times you can expect to see one pop up (4-month sleep regression anyone?), but they really can present themselves at almost any time. Four months, 6 months, 8-10 months, 11-13 months, 16-18 months, 24months, see what I mean? Sometimes a sleep regression will work itself out and all that is required from the parent is consistency and time. I recommend giving it two weeks to work itself out. If your baby is still waking after two weeks it is likely a sleep regression that may need some parental intervention to iron out. Perhaps a simple schedule adjustment will do the trick, or perhaps it’s time to teach your baby to fall asleep independently. Sleep regressions are caused by many different factors and it can be hard to identify what to change to see improvement. That’s why I am here, to help you sleep better faster.
If you are in need of some personal help to understand your baby’s night wakings, please reach out today and start sleeping better tonight! I host a free Q&A* every single week. I also offer a FREE 15-minute phone call* to discuss my packages and find the right purchase to fix your sleep issue.
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