When you bring that precious bundle of joy home from the hospital, you’re expecting a certain amount of nighttime activity. You know you’re looking at nighttime feedings, changing diapers at 3 AM, and comforting and soothing. It’s just part of the package when it comes to having a baby. Some parents even relish these nighttime visits, because it’s something of a bonding opportunity between parent and child. Others dread it, because of how much it truly interferes with your sleep. Most folks start out enjoying it, but wind up counting down the days until it ends.
Regardless, you’re going to make it through it. As time goes on, your baby is going to sleep for longer periods at a time. At first, you can expect your baby to sleep no more than about two hours at a time. By the time your baby hits three months of age, this should expand to four or five hours. The vast majority of babies will sleep through the night by six months of age.
If you’re breastfeeding, you should be aware of the fact that your baby is probably going to wake up more often, at least at first. Your baby digests breast milk faster than she does formula. A baby who’s being formula-fed will usually eat about every four hours or so. A baby that’s breastfed will probably eat more like every two to three hours.
That’s not a reason to bottle feed over breastfeeding, however. It’s just a difference that you should be aware of, depending on how you’re choosing to feed your baby.
One of the most important things to keep in mind during those first three months is this: when your baby sleeps, it’s a good time for you to sleep. You aren’t going to get much more than three or four hours of sleep at a time when you have an infant, so you need to nap when you can. Your baby will actually sleep a good portion of the day, she just wakes up during that time and you need to be available.