We all know that newborns don't sleep through the night; they wake up because they are hungry, but then they fall right back to sleep. So what about as they get older, and bigger, and don't eat as often, why then won't your baby sleep through the night? There are many reasons why a baby won't sleep through the night. So how then, can you improve your chances of getting a full night's rest? Here are some basic ideas for helping baby sleep through the night.
Babies will wake up at night to eat, sometimes because of habit, and sometimes because they are flat out hungry. Make sure you are giving your baby the calories she needs during the day. The better baby eats during the day, the less they will need at night.
Another tip to help you ensure your baby won't be waking out of habit is something I did with my daughter when she was just six weeks old until she was about 11 months old. I fed her in her sleep. This may sound dangerous, but it is perfectly safe. I would go in her room any time between 9:30-10:30, but never later, and never earlier, and softly pull her out of bed, I would snuggle her to make sure she stayed asleep, and then I would carefully put the bottle in her mouth. It is a natural instinct for them to start sucking.
Babies fall asleep while eating all the time and they are perfectly safe. This way they aren't waking up thinking, "oh, it's time to eat." This avoids creating a habit. Then when you are certain your child is old enough and getting enough calories during the day, you stop feeding them that last time, and they are none the wiser because they were never really aware it was happening in the first place.
I cannot preach schedule enough. I live by a schedule; for me, my husband and my daughter. We go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time. I know most people will disagree with this, but I promise you it is important that your baby wakes up at the same time every day. If your baby goes to bed at seven, they should wake up or be woken up between seven and eight.
If you let your baby sleep too long in the morning, it will mess up their nap schedule, and mess up their night schedule. The more scheduled your baby is, the more likely they will maintain good sleeping habits, including sleeping through the night.
When your baby has really good naps during the day, they will sleep better at night. Do not let your baby sleep past five if their bedtime is eight, and four if their bedtime is seven. When they get good naps during the day, they sleep better at night and shouldn't even need to sleep in.
Following a bedtime routine is a huge help in preparing your child to go to bed, and to sleep effectively. Babies have triggers that help ease them to sleep. Come up with a bedtime routine and follow it consistently.
This is what works for my daughter:
She gets a snack about 30 minutes before bed, usually some fruit.
Then we play for about 15 minutes.
Then it's upstairs for a bath. She loves bath time, and I use the lavender baby soap, as this helps soothe them and put them to sleep.
Then we go into mommy's room and get her ready for bed in the big bed.
We brush her teeth,
Comb her hair,
Put on lotion,
Clean her nose if it is needed (babies will sleep better when they can breathe freely).
After she is all ready for bed we give her hugs, kisses, and loves. Then daddy takes her to bed. We keep this consistent as well, it's always daddy who puts her to bed. He rocks her, sings to her, and snuggles her. He doesn't do this until she falls asleep, because we worked with her to get her to put herself to sleep. Mostly our routine is to enforce how much we love her.
After snuggle time, she is laid in her bed, her music box is turned on, and she rolls over with her favorite blanket and puts herself to sleep. Following this routine every night has made bedtime a breeze. She knows what to expect, and the triggers and routine help her to prepare to go to sleep without a fuss and without a fight. It also helps calm her and prepares her for a deeper sleep.
It is important to remember that babies have needs too, and they aren't waking just to ruin your night, it is never malicious. There are many things that can wake a baby who would normally sleep through the night. Teething, growing, learning, stimulation or loud noises can wake a baby. I am also a huge believer in white noise for babies, this can help sooth them, as well as drown out extra noises.
Being a parent is a full-time job, and then some, and even if your baby won't sleep all the way through the night it doesn't mean you aren't a good parent, it just means your baby needs you.