Sleeping through the night

It doesn’t take new parents long to begin to understand their babies’ sleep patterns…or lack of them. When new parents with young babies get together, one of the common topics of discussion is their babies’ sleep! Many ask the all-important question, “When will my baby start sleeping through the night?”

The term ‘sleeping through the night’ means different things for different parents. A baby’s sleep schedule is anything but predictable! For some it means their baby sleeps continuously from midnight until 7am, for others, it means 11:30pm to 5:30am with several awakenings in between that don’t wake the parents.

Babies often wake briefly several times during their sleep; if nothing stimulates them, they fall back to sleep again and parents may not even realize the baby was awake. If baby wakes and is hungry, that may cause some crying, it is the only way she is able to tell you that she needs you.

For the first couple of months, it may be easier to have your baby sleep in their crib next to you. You will begin to hear her stir and can feed her before she starts to cry, which means you may be able to return to sleep a little faster.

By six weeks of age, many babies begin to sleep for a five to six hour stretch between seven p.m. and 1:00 a.m. and have about six feedings in a 24-hour day. It’s normal for a seven-week-old baby to sleep 14-18 hours a day. They may sleep for five to six hours at night and then again in the morning and afternoon and then have a period during the day when they are awake and sociable.

Foster is quick to point out, however, that each baby is unique and that it’s important when your baby is little to do what works for him. If your baby still needs that 5:30am feeding, you should continue it. In another month or so, at around 10 to 12 weeks old, he may only need five feedings in 24 hours and he will adjust his sleep schedule.

Hang in there! Your baby’s night time schedule might not be ideal for you, but it’s probably very typical and likely won’t last much longer.

If you are concerned that your baby isn’t sleeping enough or is sleeping too much, be sure to contact your health care provider.

Click here to learn more about your sleep and your baby.