We’ve all been there, parents. You feed baby. You burp baby. You make sure baby is warm enough. Not too warm, mind you, but warm enough. You make sure everything is quiet and dark, but baby is just not going to go to sleep. She may be crying her lungs out, or she may be bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to face the world at three in the morning. You, on the other hand, don’t want to see anything but the insides of your eyelids at this hour.
So, what’s a parent to do with a baby who just won’t go to sleep? The truth is there isn’t much that you can do. Do your best to settle in and make yourself and baby comfortable and wait it out. If you have a partner, take turns. Sooner or later, your baby will get tired and fall asleep. In the meanwhile, hang in there, get plenty of rest when you can, and remind yourself that this will only last a few months.
While most infants only sleep for two to four hours at a time, babies usually start sleeping for longer periods at about four months old. Don’t mark your calendar, though, because every baby is different. Some may not start sleeping through the night until much older, and even after they do start sleeping through the night, teething and other factors can still cause older babies to wake up at night.
One thing you can do to encourage your baby to sleep longer at night is to wake him up from daytime naps. Don’t overdo it, but if you start to gently wake your baby up twenty minutes to half an hour earlier than he would normally wake up on his own, he is likely to be sleepier at nighttime. Then, when your bed time is getting close, make sure that baby is fed, clean, and comfy and perhaps you’ll get an extra hour or two of sleep. Keep in mind, however, that for a baby, sleeping through the night generally starts with sleeping about five hours at a time, and only gradually builds up to an actual full night of sleep.