How to Get Your Baby to Sleep through the Night

Can’t get your baby to sleep through the night? Its every first-time parent ordeal.

A new-born baby sleeps almost all the time. The need for nourishment gives rise to regular waking patterns. During the first two months, breastfeeding may be required every two hours! Parents with experience live through all that harassment and recover from stresses well. Yet to be parents may consider it a nightmare. The euphoria at the coming of the new one may be balanced by hectic waking nights.

Arrange serene baby sleeping environments 

A soothing room arrangement or a baby corner would encourage relaxation. Gentle shades of greens and yellows are fine. Avoid harsh and bright colors. The common habit of watching smartphone videos at feeding time should be shunned. Especially at sleeping time, prevent noise, television programs and loud music. All hectic activities and games should be saved for the day. The bedtime should be peaceful to encourage rest and sleep. 

Sleep between 3 and 6 months

As the weeks pass, the baby is sleeping longer. By the time six months is reached, sleep may extend to 6 hours at a time. Yet, proceed slowly and carefully. Be prepared for the unexpected. 

Why does the baby cry?

Some kids hardly cry. That is probably because their needs and wants are met promptly. Feeding times, demands for toys and attention get noticed early. The universal baby crying habit is mostly in response to hunger. The other reasons the baby cry may be suffering from pain, gas in the stomach or fever. Still, avoid pampering the baby too much by fulfilling every whim. 

Sleep training 

Encourage the regular, longer sleeping routines as the baby grows. How? Plan and organize extended sleep through a few strategies. Don’t expect it to happen on its own. A disciplined and consistent daily activity pattern, especially at bedtime, would show the way. The daily routine each day needs to be similar to build up regularity. Soon, the baby falls into a daily pattern and instinctively knows what is coming next. That should extend to bedtime too and a winding down after playing all day long.  

Heed a few sleep safety warnings:

  • A baby must sleep on his or her back on a firm surface.
  • Car seats and strollers are not ideal sleeping places.
  • Baby could sleep in the same room as parents but not on the same bed.
  • Avoid soft objects in the crib, stuffed toys too.
  • Don’t cover the baby’s head or overheat.
  • Avoid electronic gadgets and monitors.
  • Don’t forget the vaccinations.
  • Breastfeed and get the skin to skin contact with baby regularly 

A regular falling asleep schedule

You need to soothe the baby with a variety of activities like songs and gentle music. Yet, remember that the final moments of falling asleep needs to be independent. If the baby falls asleep in parental arms, waking will mean crying to find the parent again. Fear and confusion may be the result in a lonely crib. Carry the baby around and quietly encourage sleep in a tranquil environment. When sleep is near, put the baby gently down in the crib. Let the final stage of falling asleep happen alone.

Initially, the baby will wake during the night as the sleep cycle starts stretching. As the months’ pass, little baby sleeps longer each time. Baby will not make a fuss even after waking in the night. The habit of independent sleep is in the process of happening. The baby will not associate sleep with a parent since falling asleep comes alone. After a few trials and errors, such will be the routine to sustain in the future. 

Sleep strategy when a baby reaches six months

After placing the tired child in the crib, leave the room. The baby may cry before or during sleep. Respond and appear after a minute or two has passed. Soothe the baby with words and actions but avoid picking up. Don’t stay too long in the room, not longer than 3 minutes. Cries may continue. If crying persists, repeat the brief visits at longer intervals each time. The waking up and crying would gradually subside with longer sleep durations. 

Absence of hard and fast sleeping rules

Generalizations are hard to make, babies having plenty of individual differences like adults. Avoid imposing anything upon the baby. Follow the health guidelines carefully. Approach the family doctor for regular check-ups and interpret what indicators arise. If the baby has sustained bouts of crying, some underlying health condition may be the cause. 

Experts say,

By three months, babies should physiologically sleep for 5 or 6 hours at a stretch. Feeding frequency has lessened by then. A circadian program of sleep and waking is happening. Little ones probably need not be fed when waking up in the night between 6 months and 12 months. 

Tips for new parents

Pregnancy, birth and the first few months and years are incredibly stressful for parents. Lucky are they who employ babysitters or daycare facilities, if too busy professionally. Yet, the nightly sleep routine inculcation would apply. For the struggling and frustrated parents, handling the sleep routine turn by turn could help. Majority of couples with a baby have grandparents living with them on and off. They bring a wealth of experience to child-rearing. Grandmother or grandfather or both sharing the little responsibility makes a difference. 

However, it is not a long-standing problem. Probably within 12 months old, the nightmarish waking up would end. Sleeping for 6 hours at a stretch would lead to more exciting and fun-filled times. The baby grows rapidly. It is time for the parents to heave a big sigh of relief. Yet, they need to continue observing safety measures. Closely supervise the conditions and companions of the growing baby during the day. 

The specialist opinion

Don’t take for granted that hunger is always the cause of waking. Those tiny ones sleep in early cycles of 40 minutes and move about often. Don’t be in a hurry to feed with the breast or bottle. Alternative soothing methods like a song would help. 

Rituals of daily life like just before bedtime could be a bath or soothing music amidst gentle lighting. Calm baby down as night approaches and avoid sensory stimulation. Feeding before parents go to bed ensures that they will not wake up again so soon. 

Take it easy with solid foods. While thinking that such foods prolong sleep sessions, the reverse may happen. Solid food at six months is acceptable. 

Psychological preparation

Research facts and differing approaches to babies across cultures may create confusion. The early months and years are demanding for both parents. Get adjusted to the task at hand. Colleagues and friends, grandparents and social media do help the process. Prolonging baby sleep in stages through the night is going to happen soon. The intervening weeks and months will have to be tolerated like harsh weather. 

The certainty remains that blue skies will resume. 

Avoid getting bogged down by sleepless nights! Work pressures can be terrible; daycare staff and babysitters often do not cope well. Many parents and single parents have to sacrifice a job temporarily for the sake of child-rearing.

In the end, there is reason to smile. When a few months or a year has passed, the scenario has cheerfully changed. The child has been sleep-trained for more extended periods gradually. The ‘aha’ moment has arrived. Isn’t it time to celebrate after infinite tensions and sleepless nights? It won’t be long before the baby sleeps soundly through the night. 

Farha Naaz

Farha Naaz is a mother of a 10-month old baby.