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Life with a baby can make you feel like a zombie some time, can’t it? Being that you never have a chance to doze off. It’s perfectly normal to wonder if you will ever be able to hit the sack again like a normal person.
Of course, you will be able to sleep normally once again. Your newborn will enter a normal sleeping cycle and nod off through the night, so you’ll have your chance to become friends with the Sandman again.
However, the question is –when do babies sleep all night? You can’t expect an infant to go from short naps to twelve-hour slumber right away. It works a bit differently. Your baby will gradually pass milestones that will make them ready for full-night sleep.
When do babies sleep all night?
Hate to break it to you, but there’s really no magical period when infants start sleeping through the night – every child is different. Typically, it occurs around the fourth month of their life. Crucial development milestones can completely change an infant’s sleep regime.
Those changes help infants sleep through the whole night. However, to be perfectly clear, a baby sleeping through the night doesn’t suddenly become double-digit hour sleep cycle. What it actually means is the infant not waking up crying in the darkest hour of the night or needing nighttime nursing for a period of five to six hours, or perhaps even more.
So, to try and clarify a bit more, it does not mean the child won’t demand to be fed (or want to be amused, snuggled, or demonstrate new tricks to you), it only means that the baby possibly won’t need additional nourishment until their morning meal.
During their first month of life, infants start learning to differentiate between daily and nightly occurrences. Parents who play very actively with their little one during the day, and not-so-actively in the evening, help the process.
A newborn infant sleeps ten to eighteen hours a day in total. However, that can mean sleeping a couple of minutes or a couple of hours at a time. Their nighttime sleeping span can be wide even by their third month of life.
As much as mothers would like to believe that babies start sleeping through the whole night at twelve weeks, it is just a myth. If your baby does, consider yourself lucky.
Most infants do not start sleeping through the whole night for another month. Maybe even another three months. Don’t worry, you are not doing anything wrong – it’s only human nature.
The range for when infants sleep through the night is large, to say the least. It can be anywhere between four weeks and four months.
Typically, their sleeping balance starts to sort itself out around their fourth month of life. That’s when infants start to self-soothe and go back to sleep on their own after waking up.
Their physical coordination and mental capabilities have sufficiently developed, so they can recall something that comforts them. Sucking their thumb is a common example of such an activity. They also like rubbing their feet together.
Generally, by the ninth month, the majority of babies (70 to 80%, according to research), are able to doze off through the night without being nursed. In other words – you get nine to twelve hours of rejuvenating sleep.
How to Get a Baby to Sleep Through the Night
When trying to help your baby sleep all night – training is crucial. Basically, its the method used to teach an infant to go to bed on their own and stay asleep. There are many forms of nighttime parenting. However, there are some rudimental infant sleep methods all parents ought to know.
Where Should an Infant Sleep?
For their first six months of life, an infant should sleep in the same room with their parents. If possible, up to one year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The infant can sleep in a crib, portable crib, play yard, bassinet – it doesn’t matter, as long as the baby is sharing the same room with the parents.
However, bed-sharing is a no-no. Sleeping in the same room with the baby reduces the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome occurring by a half.
How Should a Baby Sleep?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their back and on firm mattress pads. That goes both for naps and nighttime sleeping.
Sheets, blankets, bumper pads, and soft toys should be nowhere in sight. Such items are a choking hazard and can also cause overheating. If the child falls asleep in a sling, swing or a car seat, move them to a firm surface and position them on their back, as soon as you can.
Sleep Training Methods
Whether your baby will sleep through the night can depend on their sleep training. There are two main tactics – one is known as the “no tears” approach, while the other is called the “cry it out.” A lot of parents opt for a method that is somewhere in between.
In general, specialists recommend starting sleep training between the fourth and sixth month of the infant’s life. Some babies learn it almost instantaneously, within the first few days. It depends on a variety of factors, such as household environment, personality, or even genes. For other infants, it might take more time and a lot more training.
At first, your child might have crying fits when bedtime comes. Until an infant learns how to speak, they’ll express their displeasure through cries. You’ll probably be guilt-ridden when hearing your child cry even for just a couple of minutes, but give your baby a few days to figure it out themselves.
Your child will probably be thinking something along the lines of, “What’s going on and what can I do?” For them, it is just another learning curve. And not only for them, but it’s also a learning curve for the parents as well.
Picking up and comforting your baby will certainly be tempting, but no matter how hard it gets, you are doing a favor to both your child and yourself. In the long run, it means plenty of rest for the both of you. However, if your child is frequently crying for longer than an hour at a time, and it goes on for longer than seven days, without any hints of improvement, it might be a good idea to call your doctor.
Will Formula Help?
There is a rumor out there that an infant’s sleep pattern depends on whether they are being nursed or eating formula. It’s just a tale, feeding your child formula won’t make that all-night slumber happen, any faster than nursing would. While we are on the topic, feeding the child rice cereal just before their bedtime won’t help them sleep longer either.
Unfortunately, introducing different foods to help your baby sleep longer just doesn’t work. You do want to make sure your baby is happy before bedtime, but don’t put them to sleep on an overly full stomach.
Give your child 30 minutes to one hour to digest the breastmilk or formula. If your child gets quite easy after feedings or has reflux, it is best to start the night off a bit smoother.
The Power of Bedtime Routines
Despite the fact that the food your baby consumes doesn’t help them sleep through the whole night any faster, there are a few tricks you can use to help your child drift into dreamland with a bit more ease and for longer periods of time. The key is to establish a bedtime routine.
Infants as young as two months old can positively react to a series of activities done each approximately half an hour before bedtime. The sleep routine could be a simple bath and nursing session. Perhaps you can sing a lullaby or read a bedtime story.
That way, your child will start to realize when a certain activity is happening, it’s time to go to bed. The little ones really enjoy having a bedtime.
They experience so many new, different things every day and going to new places – a lot of things happens in a day of a baby’s life. Infants like having a set bedtime each night because that way they know exactly what will happen.
However, to be completely frank, it can get ugly before getting better. But, for a parent, an established bedtime routine and a high quality bassinet consisting of a bath, pajamas and a lullaby help can help put the baby to sleep without much fuss.
You can have your own going-to-sleep song. A walk around the bedroom accompanied by a couple of good nights to the plush animals is a lovely routine your child might like. So, once the time comes for bed, both of you’ll know to stick to the rules.
Consistency is of the essence here. You don’t have to be utterly square about it and insist on the routine being exact to the very last detail every night. Just try sticking to starting it half an hour before bed.
When to Start The Routine
Being on the lookout for signs of sleeping can be of the essence. As soon as you notice them, it’s time to start the bedtime routine. When a baby starts to pull their ears, rub their little eyes, and not make eye contact – you can tell they are exhausted.
If you notice your baby being quite hyperactive and animated, it is probably so because they are over-exhausted. You wouldn’t want to miss that crucial window.
When infants get too exhausted, they become wired, which in turn makes it hard for them to actually get a good night’s sleep. Keep in mind the old maxim – sleep begets sleep.
Should You Wake Up a Sleeping Infant?
A fresh mommy knows it’s difficult not to revel once their little one drifts into deep slumber. Once the infant is approximately eight to ten months of age, sleeping for too long during the day can disrupt their nighttime sleep pattern and stop them from sleeping through the night. So, to wake or not to wake a sleeping angel?
Short answer – yes. It can certainly be tempting not to, but there will be moments when you will have to gently wake up the kiddo and prevent them from having a prolonged nap. Naps are good for the little ones – they help them process all of the things they have learned and allow them to endure until nighttime.
Nevertheless, if your little one sleeps for too long, wake them up without hesitation, but gently of course. If your baby naps for hours during the day, they will not be ready for bedtime.
So, the question is, how long is too long? At approximately four months of age, you should wake up your infant approximately three hours before their nighttime routine.
Sleeping is not only an indulgence – it is vital. That goes for both the parents and their children. So, when you are running on fumes, and your eyes begin to shut, it’s perfectly reasonable to start asking your self, “when do newborns sleep all night?”
Don’t worry – it will happen. By the age of nine months old – most infants sleep through the night without nursing. That’s when you’ll be slowly getting back to your regular sleeping schedule. Make sure to enjoy it – you have definitely earned it!