How to Help Your Baby/Newborn Sleep Through the Night
Health, eating, and sleeping are the “Big 3” issues when it comes to bringing home your baby. In the beginning, you do not really expect your child to sleep through the night. In fact, because of the fluctuations in blood sugar, if your child slept too much without waking up to be fed, it could be dangerous.
But a couple of months into your baby’s life, you want them to begin sleeping for longer stretches both for their sanity and for yours. The problem is that you cannot reason with them and you cannot force them to sleep, and sometimes your baby can’t sleep through night. If
The Importance of Sleep
If your baby can’t sleep through night, it is important that you do whatever you can to change that because the importance of sleep for a baby cannot be overstated. The truth is that very few people get the sleep that they need, but as adults we can cope with a lack of sleep and still function. The same cannot be said for your baby.
When a child is first born, they really should not stay awake for more than 2 hour intervals, and usually 30 minutes of that awake time is spent eating. It is very important to track their sleep and to make sure that they are interacting with you when they are awake, but the most important thing is to ensure that your baby gets between 14 and 17 hours of sleep per day until they are about 6 months old.
The sleep cycles of babies are different than that of an adult. This can be easily seen when you watch your baby sleep. Restlessness, position changing, and the “jump” reflex are all signs that show you that a baby does not spend as much time in REM sleep as an adult does. This is one of the main reasons that a baby needs to sleep so much more during the day.
A tired baby cannot function at their optimal level, they are fussier, and they will lost out on cognitive and emotional growth because they are missing sleep. If your baby can’t sleep through night, try following some of the tips below to make sure they progress like they are supposed to.
Reducing the Risk of SIDS
Before we move on to those tips, another reason that good sleep habits is important is because of the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths. Following the tips below will help your baby’s development and sleep patterns, but it will also reduce the risk of SIDS because your baby will have your entire focus at bed time and nap time.
A Sleep Schedule
The most important thing that you can do as your baby becomes old enough to sleep through the night is to develop a sleep schedule. If your baby can’t sleep through night, it could be because you are missing some or all of a sleep schedule. A schedule includes things like when to take naps, where to put the crib or pack and play, what temperature to set the thermostat, when is the perfect bed time for your baby, what nap time routine will you use, what bed time routine will you use, how often will you bathe your child, etc.
If your baby can’t sleep through night, the first thing that you should do is reevaluate your sleep schedule. Make changes where changes need to be made, but most importantly, be consistent. A consistent schedule, a consistent routine, a consistent location, and a consistent time are so important for
When is Your Baby Ready to Sleep?
One of the reasons that your baby can’t sleep through night is because you may be missing their “sleep signs.” As the day gets later and you have fed your baby their last bottle of the day, try not to miss your baby’s “sleep signs.” Sometimes they are as obvious as eye rubbing or a yawn, but sometimes they are much more subtle. Maybe your baby becomes slightly fussier or more irritable and sometimes it is as simple as your baby not making eye contact. It is different for each child, but after all, you are the number one expert on your child.
These “sleep signs” should be evident during the day as well. If your baby can’t sleep through night, it could also be because you are missing their sleep signs throughout the day. As we will discuss later, sleep begets sleep. What that means is that when your baby becomes overly exhausted, they may actually be too tired to sleep. While that may sound counterintuitive, and it may seem logical to make you baby as tired as possible before laying them down at night, it just does not work. If you misread when your baby is ready to sleep during the day or at night, it could very well be the reason your baby can’t sleep through night.
A Bed Time Routine
When baby can’t sleep through night, a good step is to evaluate your bedtime routine. Are you consistent? Is there a “wind down” time where everything in your house is calm leading up to sleep? Have you tried bathing your child directly before bed every night?
Some of the questions above may seem out of the realm of possibility for your family. Perhaps you have other children who make a “wind down” time impossible. Maybe you work too late to be able to bathe your baby every night before bed, and maybe consistency is tough because your schedule is anything but consistent. At the same time, if your baby can’t sleep through night, adding these things into your bed time routine could very well be the difference.
The most important aspect of your bed time routine should be when you put your baby down to sleep in their crib. Maybe you rock them and sing to them, maybe you just sit quietly with them while they doze off, and maybe you even put them in your bed while you lie right next to them. Regardless, the best and most important part of the nighttime routine should be that special time between you and your baby as they transition into sleep. Make sure this is special for you and your baby, and make sure it is a comforting and relaxing time that prepares your baby to sleep through the night.
Swaddling is not a necessary thing for children, but if your baby can’t sleep through night and you are not swaddling, maybe this simple act could be the difference. Swaddling is a known deterrent to SIDS, it helps to fight your child’s “jump” reflex, and it gives your baby an added sense of comfort and security. While it is not necessary, it is certainly worth a shot if nothing else is working.
Naps and Nighttime Sleep
Sleep begets sleep. It really is that simple. If your child is not napping enough during the day and they are overly tired when it comes to bed time, then they probably can’t sleep through night. An overly tired baby is a fussy baby, an uncomfortable baby, and ultimately a baby that will have trouble sleeping.
This idea is both counterintuitive and illogical. As adults, we know that the more tired we feel, the easier it is for us to get to sleep and the harder we sleep. This is not the same for babies and it can be confusing. You have probably even heard a phrase similar to, “They are really going to sleep well tonight” as a reference to how hard a child has played or how little they have slept during the day. The truth is, the better and more consistent your child sleeps during nap time and bed time, the better they will sleep in general.
This fact is the reason that a sleep schedule is vital. Not just a bedtime schedule, but a total sleep schedule where you know when your child will nap each day, when they will eat, and when they will go to bed. When you get this schedule right and your child is taking good naps, then the adage “sleep begets sleep” will begin working for your child. One of the main reasons your baby can’t sleep through night is because they are not sleeping enough during the day.
Sleep is vital. It is important for general health for adults, teenagers, and kids, but it is more important for babies than almost anything else. It is very important that your baby get the sleep they need, and if they baby can’t sleep through night, make some of the changes mentioned above to help them.