Updated: Aug 12, 2020
The milestone every parent strives for! Whether it be sleeping through from their last feed at 10/11pm until morning or sleeping 7pm til 7am with no feeds, the big question on every mum’s mind is When & How?!
Let’s consider the following:
1. Your Baby’s Age & Feeding
Newborns have really tiny tummies so they need to be fed regularly for the first few months. From 6 weeks old some babies do start to sleep longer stretches at night and some babies as early as 10-12 weeks can sleep through from their late feed at 10/11pm until 6am/7am as long as they are a good weight and having good full feeds during the day.
Babies are great calorie regulators and until they start solids, they won’t be able to do 2 long stretches at night without a feed. By introducing a late feed so feed baby awake before 16 weeks or a dream feed - feed baby asleep from 16 weeks you have a better chance of your baby sleeping through from that feed at 10/11pm until morning rather than letting your baby wake naturally after their bedtime milk feed as long as they are feeding well during the day and weight gain is good.
If your baby is over 6 months old and established on solids you can look at increasing their daily calorie intake of solids and milk to help them sleep through the night 7pm until 7am as long as weight gain is good.
If your baby is not hungry for their 7am milk feed, this is a good indicator they are feeding too much in the night and therefore you can start to gradually wean off those night feeds.
2. Day Sleep
All babies and toddlers need only a certain amount of sleep in a 24 hour period. If you are aiming for 11-12 hours sleep at night, the rest of your baby and toddler’s sleep needs to be divided across their naps.
Also be really consistent with a good routine in place so that their naps occur at the same time every day. Babies and toddlers thrive on routine!
3. Settling to Sleep
This is a big one! Does your baby require you every time to settle to sleep and go back to sleep? Does your baby need to be fed to sleep? Is your baby needing a dummy for every sleep? Are you getting up every 2 hours to pop it back in?
From 3-4 months old a baby’s sleep cycles mature to become like ours and they rouse at the end of a sleep cycle and need to consciously go back to sleep by themselves. The key to preventing them from fully waking is for them to have the ability to settle themselves back to sleep. If your baby relies on you to settle to sleep, it’s likely they wake up wanting the same conditions that were there when they fell asleep.
To help them learn to settle to sleep and resettle (go back to sleep) by themselves, work on self-settling. Start by withdrawing how much you assist your baby to sleep, use the dummy less or teach them how to sleep with a dummy, rouse them if they fall asleep feeding, rock less and try to put them down to sleep drowsy but awake.
4. Sleep Environment
A great sleep environment is key to your baby or toddler sleeping well. Check if it’s warm or cool enough. Make sure it’s dark, I mean really dark, almost pitch black. Even a small amount of light is enough to tell the brain it’s time to wake up! They may also benefit from some white noise to block out sounds outside the house and noisy siblings. For more info read my blog on How To Create the Perfect Sleep Environment for your Little One.
5. Early Bedtime
Aim for a bedtime no later than 7pm until at least 3 years old. This will help prevent your baby or toddler becoming over tired. Overtired children don’t sleep well and tend to wake up early!
Lots of parents struggle with a plan to achieve this ultimate goal and some just tend to accept that being a parent is all about never getting a full night’s sleep again but believe me it is possible!
If you are struggling with your baby or toddler or even pre-schooler not sleeping through the night yet, I can help you by putting a plan in place tailored to your child and support & coach you to implement the changes.