Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Firstly what does sleeping through the night actually mean? I find it means different things to different people. Some parents are happy with one or two wakes and a solid 4 hours sleep others want no wakes and a solid 8 hours sleep. So the next time someone says to you 'she slept through the night' and you want to scratch their eyeballs out (yes sleep deprivation gives me the rage as well) you might want to clarify what exactly they mean.
I have had some clients who literally just want me to make their baby sleep through the night. I get it, your tired, your up and down multiple times a night, everyone else's baby seems to sleep all night and so what is wrong with yours? The truth is there are some simple rules to follow to identify if your baby is actually ready to sleep through the night and I discuss these now.
Baby's Age & Feeds
Firstly you cannot expect newborns under 3 months to sleep through the night, they need to be feed on demand and are still finding their line in terms of weight gain. If baby is under 6 months old and not yet on solids then you need to be focusing on 1-2 night feeds. Over 6 months old and established on solids you can look at increasing their daily calorie intake of solids and milk and expect that they will sleep through the night, assuming weight gain is good.
This is a big one, if your baby or toddler won't self settle then they won't be able to resettle which means they need you to go to sleep and for all wake ups. This skill needs to be taught in order for them to sleep through successfully, teaching this also enables you to distinguish between genuine hunger Vs habit wakes and comfort feeds.
It is true that some babies will naturally increase their food intake during the day, be really good and efficient feeders and naturally sleep though. Lots of others won't though, they need a bit of gentle encouragement to do this themselves. Lots of people don't realise babies only need a certain amount of sleep across a 24 hour period so you need to manage their naps accordingly. If they are sleeping a lot in the day they may also be sleeping through their feeds so waking them at the right time is important.
Remember that if baby isn't sleeping through the night, neither are you. All too often I see people accepting that being a parent is about never getting a full night's sleep. This simply is not true, we are all human and sleep is a biological need for babies as well as adults. I am not saying that every baby, toddler and child should sleep all night every night, they all go through phases and leaps that will make some nights worse then others but it is possible and reasonable to expect a baby over 3 months of age to sleep all night broken by 1-2 night feeds.
Understanding and knowing that means that if it hasn't happened yet there is something else at play which is preventing this. I work with each parent on an individual basis, I look at your baby's day and night sleep, their feeds, what they are eating and when as well as the room environment.
If you think your baby is ready to sleep through the night but you are struggling to identify why they still haven't done it yet then get in touch now for a free 15 min call https://calendly.com/asleepatlast. Join my Facebook tribe here for lots of sleep advice and support.