Your friend is always talking about how her baby sleeps through the night. Does your friend have magical powers? And where is the fairy that can grant them to you?
First of all, you’re not a failure if your baby won’t sleep through the night, and your friend does not have superpowers. More than likely, there’s a little luck involved, but it usually comes down to some basic habits that are established and consistent. A baby isn’t usually ready to sleep through the night without feeding until at least four months old, so we recommend waiting until then. Once your baby is four months old, at least 11 pounds and ready to snooze all night long then there are some things that can be done to help propel the process along.
1. Consistent Bedtime Routine
Having a consistent bedtime routine will help trigger their inner clock so they know that certain things mean bedtime. This might mean a nice, warm bath followed by a lavender lotion massage. (Lavender is soothing and sleep-inducing.) Follow with a book, snuggles and a lullaby. Then finish with a feeding. Babies thrive on a routine, and repeating it every night with mom or dad is very comforting for them.
2. Skip the Middle-of-the-Night Diaper Changes
We are not saying you should ignore a blowout. There are definitely exceptions to the rule. However, if they don’t have a blowout or leak and seem OK then skip the diaper changes in the night to prevent waking them up. If they do have a blowout then make sure to change their diaper while it’s quiet and somewhat dark.
3. Make Sure They Are Comfortable
Babies like to be warm and snuggly, and they sleep better that way. Imagine how tight it was in the womb — that is the feeling we want to create for sleep time. Swaddling and keeping the room temperature comfortable might help exponentially in helping them sleep. That being said, make sure they aren’t too hot. An ideal room temperature for a baby is about 68-72°F.
4. Try a Noise Maker
Whether it’s white noise, soft lullabies, or a heartbeat sound, babies often sleep better with some type of noise. When they were in the womb, they were constantly hearing water swishing, mama’s heartbeat and other sounds that were comforting to them. Much like the swaddling, a noise maker helps to stimulate a womb-like environment.
5. Avoid Cereal in Their Bottle
This may sound like a good idea to keep your baby full for a longer period of time, but it can actually be detrimental and damaging to your baby’s health. Solids are not recommended for your baby until at least 6 months old. Introducing solids earlier can lead to tummy troubles and digestive issues. Cereal in their bottle can also be a choking hazard. Stay away from putting anything other than breastmilk or formula in your baby’s bottle.
6. Don’t Intervene at the First Whimper
Self-soothing is a learned skill and sometimes your baby just wakes up for a minute and will go right back to sleep on their own. All babies wake up in the night just like adults. Letting them cry it out for a few minutes could actually be helping them learn to self-soothe. A few cries does not necessarily mean they are hungry.
7. Gradually Wean Your Baby off Nighttime Feedings
This can be a very difficult task but with dedication, it is doable. If your baby is at least four months old, healthy and at an ideal weight, you can start gradually cutting middle-of-the-night feedings to eventually lead to a full night’s rest.
There are other factors that might disrupt your baby’s sleep in the night such as sickness, teething, a big life change, environment, inability to self-soothe and certain milestones. There are also those dreaded sleep regressions. But for relatively normal circumstances, the above tips can make a big difference in helping your baby sleep through the night.
It’s not magic…it’s just learning good habits and sticking to them. Need help from an expert? We’ll objectively assess your sleep situation in a compassionate, judgment-free way and develop customized strategies to train your baby to sleep through the night.