Tips for Helping Baby Sleep the Whole Night Through
Getting a baby to sleep through the night is one of the first things new parents look forward to after coming home from the hospital. However, new parents have to remember that it takes time for the baby to sleep through the night. Newborns will sleep anything from sixteen to twenty hours a day, usually a couple hours at a time. Their small stomachs means that they need to eat frequently, so it will take time before they are physically ready to sleep all night. Most infants are capable of sleeping all night by about three months.
Many parents set up a cradle in their room for those first few months to make those night-time feedings easier. Other families have adopted a co-sleeping method, where the baby is in the parents' bed (with baby-proofing precautions, such as a rail on the outside edge and a firm mattress). But no matter which method works for your family, the baby can't sleep through the night until they are physically ready to do so. Trying to force it too soon will just frustrate everyone.
One night, when the baby is around three or four months, you'll wake up and realize they are still asleep. It's a very nice feeling. But what do you do after you get used to it and they decide to not sleep all night again? By now, you should have a well-developed bedtime routine, but you may find you need to adjust things a little. Nap times begin to change, with the baby taking fewer and shorter naps. Sometimes simply adjusting the naps will take care of things, and your little one will be sleeping soundly all night again.
You may also need to adjust the before bedtime feeding a bit. If the baby's tummy is full closer to bedtime, they will sleep longer. Getting the baby to sleep at least five to six hours is a good start when adjusting to going longer between feedings.
However, there are those babies who just don't want to go back to sleep. They wake up either cranky or want to play. You have a few options. Some parents use the "cry it out" method, where they let the baby cry for increasing intervals, until they learn to fall asleep on their own. Others use a "peek in and check" method where they come in, but do not take the baby from the bed. They comfort them and help them drift back to sleep. Some have continued to use the co-sleeping method and just let the baby nurse and go back to sleep; some mothers barely realize the baby has been awake.
Another thing that might help is to give the baby a massage before bedtime. This can help the baby to relax more, and hopefully drift off into a deeper sleep. If they wake, you may want to give them a very short massage, possibly only on the arms and legs until they relax again.
Every child is different, so you need to find what works for you and your baby. Once you do, stick to it. Establishing a routine will help the baby realize that this is the way things are going to work. Before long, everyone is getting more sleep and feeling much more rested during the day.
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