Babies’ sleep patterns change in the first year of life, especially when it comes to night sleep. About two-thirds of babies sleep through the night by six months of age (1). A baby is said to sleep through the night when they sleep at a stretch of six to eight hours without waking up. Even if the baby does wake up, they self-soothe themselves back to sleep (2). However, each baby is different and achieves this milestone at slightly different ages.
Read this post to learn how to get your baby to sleep through the night and the factors that may interfere with night sleeping.
How To Get A Baby To Sleep Through The Night?
Parents may explore various ways to encourage the baby to sleep through the night, depending on their experiences and their baby’s behavior. The following tips may help you achieve your objective more easily.
1. Establish a bedtime routine
A bedtime routine signals the baby that it is time to settle in the crib for the night. It also soothes them before their nighttime sleep. A bedtime routine could consist of a relaxing massage, bathing, feeding, and ending it with a nice story or lullaby before you place your little one in the crib.
2. Do not change the diaper in the middle of the night
Avoid changing your baby’s diaper in the middle of the night. You may consider nighttime diapers that soak more and last up to morning. It can help your baby sleep for hours together without disturbance. Dress your baby in nighttime diapers at the end of the bedtime routine; before placing them in the crib.
3. Place the baby’s crib in your room
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing for up to six months and preferably up to one year (3). Place the baby’s crib next to your bed. It can help you soothe the baby at night more easily, helping establish a nighttime sleep routine, which can make a baby sleep through the night as they grow older.
4. Feed the baby well during the day
If your baby did not feed adequately during the day, the chances are that they will wake up at night hungry and crying (4). Follow a diet plan or food chart to ensure your baby eats well through the day to not have an empty stomach in the middle of the night.
5. Do not rush the moment your baby cries
Most babies wake up a few times every night before they drift back to sleep. Therefore, do not lift or cuddle them immediately when they cry or seem awake. Try and see if they can self-soothe themselves (5). Most infants learn to self-soothe, and some may pacify themselves through the sight of the parent alone.
6. Try dream feeding
Dream feeding is feeding the baby when they are asleep. For instance, if the baby sleeps at eight and you sleep at ten, you may dream-feed the baby at ten so that the baby will sleep well for another four to five hours.
To dream-feed the baby, you need to slightly rouse them and latch them to the breast or bottle. Try to limit the lights, sound, and movement as much as possible. Dream feeding may be more appropriate for babies younger than six months who are gradually settling to sleep through the night but have not achieved the skill completely yet.
7. Wean off the baby of night feeds
If your baby is older than six months, you may consider night weaning. Babies older than six months can be fed solids, which fill the belly for longer than breast milk. Thus, you may replace nighttime feeds with a feed of solid food. Do take your pediatrician’s opinion before trying night weaning. Also, avoid night weaning if the baby is unwell or has recently recovered from illness.
Factors That Affect Sleeping Through The Night
The following conditions and situations may interfere with a baby’s nighttime sleep, making it difficult for them to sleep through the night (6).
Gum irritation and pain could keep your baby from sleeping through the night. Teeth begin to erupt between six to 12 months of age. Babies usually have a complete set of teeth by the time they are three years old (7).
2. Uncomfortable sleep environment
The ideal temperature for a baby’s room is 65 to 70°F (18 to 21°C) (8). A higher temperature could make the room stuffy. Excess clothing and inadequate air circulation may also make the baby feel uncomfortable. Make sure you dress the baby for sleep appropriately and maintain ideal room temperature to make it easier for them to sleep through the night.
3. Sleep habits
Inconsistent bedtime routines could set a different time of sleep each night, making it difficult for the baby to have a consistent time frame for nighttime sleep. Also, sleep-inducing habits, such as rocking the baby each night, may make it impossible for the baby to sleep without them.
Avoid using sleep-inducing methods, which could create dependency. Maintain a consistent bedtime routine and place the baby to bed when they are drowsy and not overly tired.
4. Inability to self-soothe
Some babies may be unable to self-soothe and may require assistance in the form of training. You may consider various self-soothing training methods, such as the no-crying sleep training. You may also consult a pediatrician who may suggest ways to encourage self-soothing the baby. Remember teaching your baby to self-soothe is a time-consuming process, and you must be patient with yourself and the baby.
5. Growth spurts and milestones
Growth spurts are periods of rapid physical growth. They occur around two weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months (9). It may vary by a few days, and each growth spurt continues for a few days. During this period, the baby’s sleep patterns may get disturbed, and the baby may wake up often to feed at night.
Milestones may also affect a baby’s sleep. Babies may have a hard time sleeping when they are mastering new skills, such as rolling over, sitting, crawling, standing, and walking. The period around these milestones may make it difficult for the babies to sleep through the night.
6. Sleep regressions
Babies revert to erratic sleep patterns during temporary phases known as sleep regressions. They may occur at any age but are usually seen around four months, six months, eight months, 10 months, and 12 months. They last for a few weeks before things return to normal.
Cold, ear infections, fever, or other illnesses could make the baby crankier, making it difficult for them to sleep through the night. However, the interference is temporary. Most babies who are already sleeping through the night get back to their old routine once they recover from illness.
When To Visit A Doctor?
Consult a pediatrician if the baby does not sleep through the night by their first birthday. Share with the doctor any other signs, such as snoring, that you may notice when the baby sleeps. If there is an underlying issue, the pediatrician will treat it to help the baby sleep better and through the night.
Lack of sleep is tiring for all parents, but all babies eventually sleep through the night. It is essential that the baby gets the recommended hours of sleep, which is 2-16 hours (including naps) per 24 hours (10). Different tricks work for different babies. Find what suits you the most to help your baby sleep through the night.