When Do Babies Usually Start Sleeping Through the Night?by Maggie McCormick
New parents are notoriously over-tired, as it's common for their baby to wake them up throughout the night. Wishing for nothing more than a good night's sleep, you may start to wonder when your baby is going to sleep through the night. The short answer is that he'll do it when he's good and ready to, but there are things you can do to help the process along.
Why Babies Wake Up
A newborn baby has a small stomach and needs to eat every few hours. This will mean frequent wake-ups throughout the night. Some babies may wake up and cry for the comfort of a loved one's arms. This is normal too. Baby Center reports that 70 percent of babies will sleep through the night by the time they are 9 months old. However, it's important to note that "through the night" generally means for a 5-hour stretch, not a full 8 hours.
Encouraging Good Sleep Habits
One of the most important things that you can do is put your baby into her bed when she is sleepy, but not asleep. This will encourage her to make the connection between her bed and falling asleep and not rely on you to help her sleep. You can also encourage her to be more active during the daytime, which will make her sleepier at night. A good bedtime routine, such as a bath, a feeding and some snuggles before you lay her down may also help her to sleep.
The bookstore shelves are lined with books that offer advise to wear parents on how to make their baby fall asleep. These "sleep training" books encourage you to put your baby onto a strict routine -- though the routine varies -- and force him to fall asleep on his own in some version of the "cry it out" method. Essentially, if you want to follow a sleep training method, you should put your baby in his bed while he's sleepy. He may cry and you should let him cry for a few minutes, then comfort him and repeat the process, gradually increasing the amount of time that you allow him to cry. Eventually, so the theory goes, he'll learn to fall asleep without you, especially when he wakes up in the night.
Sleep and Your Baby
Your baby is a unique individual, and you need to find out what makes her tick. Some babies need absolute quiet to sleep, while others are fine sleeping in the middle of family activity. Some babies will fall asleep in their cribs, while others will sleep in a rocker. There is no right or wrong answer, and trying to force your baby to sleep in a place where she doesn't want to may cause headaches for you. Finding your baby's best sleep methods can help her sleep throughout the night.
Saving Your Sanity
Ask for help from others during the daytime so that you can squeeze a nap in during the afternoon. During the night, your sleep becomes more disrupted if you have to travel to baby's room or make a bottle. Consider letting baby sleep in your room for the first few months and, if you formula feed, have bottles ready nearby. He can sleep either in a crib or a co-sleeper crib that attaches to the side of the bed. Some experts, like Dr. William Sears, even say that it's OK for the baby to sleep in bed with you, though others warn that this may increase risk of sudden infant death syndrome. This makes it easier for you to wake up and give him a breast or a bottle or just let him know that you are there throughout the night.