What could be better than your new baby coming home from the hospital happy and healthy and sleeping through the night? Well, as good as that sounds it doesn’t happen and new parents should expect the first three months to involve multiple night waking for feedings and changing. It gets better though and usually by 3 months of age infants are sleeping through the night.
What Does Sleeping Through the Night Mean?
Sleeping through the night is a deceiving phrase because many new parents think this means all night long. To babies, sleeping through the night is usually a stretch that is five hours long. So, if your baby goes to sleep at 8 pm and wakes at 1 am that is a 5 hour stretch that certainly doesn’t feel like “sleeping through the night” to parents! Generally, though, if babies are put to bed around 9 pm and woken up for a change and feed before mom or dad goes to bed around 11:30 pm then it is very possible for baby to sleep until 6 am. This may still seem like an early riser, but babies sleep about 15-18 hours a day and this is stretched out over a 24 hour period.
Getting on a Schedule
The best way to promote good sleep with your new baby is by getting on a good schedule. Make sure you keep your little one as active during the day as possible. This may include tummy time, time listening to music or reading books, or even going for a walk. Make sure there is plenty of light and that you are interacting with your baby as much as possible. This signals to your infant that the day is the time to be awake and this will help them save their longest stretch of sleep for the evening hours.
The first few months are tough, but it doesn’t take long for babies to start sleeping stretches that are 8-12 hours long with maybe one waking in the middle. Most of the time babies wake to be changed or fed. Many times a good feed just before bed can keep baby asleep even longer so it’s worth a try!