Baby not Sleeping through the Night

 

   When do infants sleep through the night? How to get my child to sleep through the night? These are two very common questions for parents, and in the middle of sleep deprivation can be a very pressing topic. So first lets define sleeping through the night. Most articles and professionals define sleeping through the night as “six hours or more of consecutive sleep.” You need to keep this in mind when reading articles and talking to other moms.  

 

   I on the other hand consider sleeping through the night as going to bed around 7-8pm and not waking up until around 6am (10-12 hours of consecutive sleep). There are a lot of “sleep training” methods and books out there. One that so many moms rave about is sleeping 12 hours by 12 weeks. The reality of it is though, that many factors can come into play when trying to get your child to sleep through the night. Their weight, how much they consume (formula and food) during the day, what their routine looks like, if they are breast feed or formula fed, and so on. Keep in mind that babies who are breast feeding tend to STTN later then those who are formula fed. 

   So I am not going to fill your head with dreams that by next week your child will sleep 12 hours during the night. They may or they may not. What I am going to do is give you some tips on how to help your little one get there and how to keep your sanity until they do. These tips work for singletons as well as for multiples.

Things to encourage STTN:

  1. Have a set bedtime and routine. The routine can be as simple as diaper change, pajamas, bottle, rocking with a song, and then put into bed. It can also be as elaborate as a bath, pajamas, story time, bottle, rocking, and then bed. Find what works for you and your little one. This routine will help to signal that it is time to sleep and will help as the get older as well.

  2. Any time you go into your child's room between bedtime and 6am, never turn on the light. We found that having a small night light (not very bright) gives enough light to change diapers, feed, and so on, but not enough to signal that it is time to be up and play.

  3. When you go in to feed during the night keep talking to a minimum. This again signals them that it is night time, not up time.

  4. If there is a lot of outside noise that can be heard in their room or if you have multiples try putting a sound machine in their room. Put it on a soothing setting like ocean waves. This will help drown out ambient noise, and each other if there is more then one baby in the room.

  5. If your child has reflux, colic, or other stomach issues try Homemade Gripe Water before their bedtime bottle. It has been a life saver for many parents. Here is a link to information about it, as well as, how to make it: (insert link...

  6. Make sure they are getting enough formula/ breast-milk during the day.

  7. Don't put them in their cribs while they are asleep. Try to put them down when they are starting to doze off. They may get fussy at first but this really helps with them learning to self-sooth. If you are always putting them down when they are asleep, the moment they wake up for any reason during the night, their first thought will be to cry for mom or dad because you are not there.

  8. If they are getting enough nutrition during the day for their age and are over 4 months old then you may want to look at a subtle form of crying it out. Don't jump up and make a mad dash to their room when they first start crying, but give it a couple of mins and see if they don't settle down. Babies wake up for sorts of reasons during the night and not all of them are hunger.

  9. If it is a young baby try swaddling them. The best swaddlers are the Halo Sleep Sacks with wings that you can find at Babies R Us. Very easy for everyone to use.

If your child is over 6 months, not sleeping through the night:

   If your child is getting enough nutrition during the day but still getting up at night, they may only be doing this out of habit. Are they only drinking little bit of their bottle or only briefly nursing when they wake at night? Are they waking up about the same time each night? Is it only one or two times a night? If you answered yes to these, you may just be dealing with them waking out of habit.

   Unfortunately we went through this. Our pediatrician explained all of this to us and said we should really try letting them cry it out. I was very much against CIO because I hated to hear them cry and was afraid that they would keep waking each other up. At seven months old though I broke down and tried it. The first night was really bad, the second was much better, and then they stopped getting up and started sleeping through the night. I couldn't believe it was that easy.

For those of you who are parents of multiples: Letting the babies CIO or just cry a little in general is not a bad thing. It helps them learn to sleep through the others crying. It can be difficult at first, especially if you have a screamer but you will be thankful later on down the road.

Also for those parents of multiples: You will hear a lot of people say “If one wakes, wake them all.” I did this since we had our night shift split up and found that certain ones would sleep longer or through the night at different times. Every situation is different though and you have to find what works for yours.

 

How to keep your sanity before they sleep through the night:

   Sleep deprivation can be very difficult and take a toll on your whole life. Whether you have multiples or just one baby, after about 1-2 months you start to feel like the walking dead. So here are a couple of things to try to help ease it.

  1. Splitting up the night shift: It may very from situation to situation but we found the splitting up the night shift so we could each get 5-6 hours of sleep was a life saver. My husband went to work at 8am so this is how we split it up. The kids went to “bed” at 7pm. My husband did all feedings from 7pm until 12am. They went to bed, I went to bed. All feeding from 12am on I took while he slept. (If you are breastfeeding, just pump enough so you can sleep during that time). This technique can be vital for parents of multiples. As they dropped a feeding we adjusted our schedule accordingly so we had more “us” time.

  2. For the first three months or so, be realistic. Sleep when they sleep. Don't have grand plans to scrub down the bathroom or get all the laundry done. Pace yourself and get some rest too. Sleep deprivation builds up over time and will eventually wear you down.

  3. If you have friends or family that would be willing to come once a week and let you and your significant other sleep for five hours (even during the day), while they take care of the children/ feeding, take them up on it. (Multiple Moms: ask your MoMs group. Most can set this up for you.)

  4. Do simple meals: crock pot meals, roasts, frozen meals, and so on. Set up a Meal Train for your family and friends to sign up on to help fill in some gaps. (Multiple Moms: Contact your local group, they usually do this for their members.

              

    Breath. They will eventually sleep through the night and so will you. Some do it really early and some are a little later, but they all get there. It can be rough though, so hopefully you have gotten some ideas on not only how to help your little one sleep, but also how to keep your sanity while doing it.