Getting your baby to sleep through the night is a challenge that many parents face on a daily basis. Understanding your baby’s sleep routine can help you figure out how to help them sleep through the night.
Infants have no idea what is day or night. For the first two months of your infant’s life, their need for food far outweighs their need for sleep. While they might sleep upwards of 10 to 18 hours a day, these hours might not be at night. By the time your baby reaches 3 to 6 months of age, they are usually able to sleep around 6 hours at a time.
But as your baby starts to establish their sleep cycle, other developmental issues begin to rise. Separation anxiety usually appears around ages 6 to 9 months. When this happens, babies fear they are alone and won’t see you again.
WebMD.com did a study and found that parents who had a set, nightly routine with their baby found that their babies “went to sleep easier, slept better, and cried out in the middle of the night less often.” Although the infants in the study were between 7 to 36 weeks old, some parents would even suggest starting these nightly routines when the baby is only 6 to 8 weeks old.
Here are some tips for success when getting your baby to sleep through the night:
- Play active games during the day and quiet games in the evening. This keeps your baby from getting too excited right before bedtime but tires them from the day’s activities.
- Keep activities the same and in the same order, night after night.
- Make every bedtime activity calm and peaceful, especially toward the end of the routine.
- Many babies enjoy bathing right before bedtime, which calms them down.
- Save your baby’s favorite activity for last, and do it in their bedroom. This will help them look forward to bedtime and associate their sleep space with things they like to do.
- Make nighttime conditions in your baby’s bedroom consistent. If they wake up in the middle of the night, the sounds and lights in the room should be the same as when they fell asleep.
- Use white noise machines to create background noise for your baby. This noise will buffer other noises in the home, as well as serve as a cue for your baby to start winding down at night.
- Avoid soothing your baby for long periods when they wake up at night. Sticking around too long will cause your baby to rely on your presence to fall back asleep.
- Work on eliminating nighttime feedings. “90 percent of 6-month-olds can sleep through the night without snacking.” Ask your pediatrician if it is time to start weaning your baby off of nighttime snacking.
Getting your baby to sleep through the night can be a long, stressful process. Understanding these tips could help you and your baby get a full night’s sleep. Your sleep should be a priority as well. If you’re feeling exhausted, try reading up on some tips in our blog on Simple Ways to Help Mom Catch Sleep. No matter how tired you get, be sure to follow the ABCs of safe sleep; your baby should sleep Alone, on their Back, in a Clean, Clear Crib.