“So… when will my baby be sleeping through the night?”
If you’re a mum that has never had a good night’s sleep since the birth of your child… this would probably be your Number One (and most asked) question!
Let’s get some facts right first… when I say Sleep Through – I mean sleeping for a length of 10-12 hours without being fully awake (ie. waking for feed/ crying for long periods). Logically speaking, nobody really sleeps solidly through the night, as we all have naturally occurring wake ups at night. However, sometimes they’re so brief that you hardly remember, and if you did get up (like go to the toilet), you’ll have the skills to get yourself back to sleep again. Same for babies, if they’ve mastered the skills for themselves, they’ll be able to handle the night wakings on their own and start sleeping through the night sooner.
As a general guide, most babies with great sleep habits will naturally wean off their night feeds at around 6 months. Of course, age isn’t the only factor, and it’s usually supported by other factors like:
1. Weight – Has baby doubled his birth weight? Is baby gaining weight and growing per the growth curve?
2. Sporadic Night Wakings – If baby is waking erratically at unpredictable times, chances are that he’s just looking for some help to fall back asleep
3. No Health Concerns – Speak to your doctor to find out if baby is growing at a healthy rate/ baby is not sick etc.
4. Started Solids – Is baby taking solids at least 2 -3 times a day? Solid food digests slower than breastmilk/ formula, and leaves baby satisfied for longer periods (The AAP recommends waiting till 6 months to start solids)
5. Not Eating Much at Night – Does baby only nurse for a few minutes or an ounce or two then go right back to sleep? It’s most likely baby is nursing out of habit rather than necessity then.
Although the above is a good guide, what’s important is to ask yourself this question – “How does your baby fall asleep during bedtime?” If they’ve been relying on your help all these while, eg. feeding/rocking/pacifier/swinging, chances are – they’re up in the middle of the night because they need your help to put them back to sleep again. They haven’t mastered the strategies to soothe themselves back to sleep independently.
I understand that night weaning can be a sensitive subject for breastfeeding mums, please be assured that night weaning does not mean weaning breastfeeding altogether. Having enough breastmilk is about how much effort you put to keep the supply up – you can definitely add in an extra pump session at night, or nurse more during the day to maintain supply.
Think about the advantages of having a solid night’s rest for both you and your baby. A well-rested child is happy, curious, energetic, eager to learn; while a well-rested parent makes parenting a whole lot more fulfilling.
As for my 4.5month old Little Miss C, she is now 6.7kgs and capable of sleeping at least 10 hours straight (with a surprise of 13 hours one night!). I would say encouraging those great sleep habits right from the start has started to pay off. She has now mastered the skills to self soothe, and at most times, all I have to do is to put her into her cot awake after her nap/ bedtime routine, and she will put herself to sleep without much fuss. Win! 🙂
So, can your baby occasionally fall asleep without any help? If yes, then you’re on the right track. However, if you think baby has a sleep prop but you don’t know how to remove it, then you’re at the right place… Contact me and we’ll set up a consultation and go through this step by step together. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at +60123542010.