Getting your Newborn to Sleep Through the Night

Is it Possible for my newborn to Sleep Through the Night?

Many people think that it is not possible for newborn babies to sleep through the night and certainly for the first 4 weeks you cannot expect your baby to sleep through but by 6 weeks you should be able to get at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

For the first four to five weeks your baby's stomach will not be big enough to hold the required amount of milk to enable them to sleep through. However, you should be able to start getting your baby to sleep through from 6 weeks- much earlier than the 9 months that the National Sleep Foundation suggests is the average age that most babies sleep through.

Ultimately you'll be aiming for 12 hours sleep a night but for the purposes of this article I refer to sleeping through as 6 hours or more uninterrupted sleep. This may not sound like a great amount but for anyone who knows what it's like to wake up every two hours to feed a newborn 6 hours is a god send.

Is it Safe for my Baby to Sleep Through so Young?

The answer is quite simply yes! The method I will describe follows cues from your baby so you will not be forcing them to sleep before they are ready. Although a newborn's sleep patterns are not the same as an adults it is your job to gradually get them sleeping through the night - that is how humans are designed to sleep. You will never leave your baby to cry for milk in the night and if you follow the method you won't have to!

Moreover, it is impossible to underestimate the importance of getting a good night's sleep for new mums. many people seem to accept months of sleepless nights as part and parcel of being a parent- it isn't. Nothing makes the joyous experience of being a new parent stressful and difficult like sleep deprivation. And you can handle near enough anything during the day if you are getting a good night's sleep. There are also clear links between sleep deprivation and postnatal depression so don't believe that just because your now a parent you have to kiss goodbye to sleep.

Only feed your baby when they are hungry
Only feed your baby when they are hungry

The Sleeping Through Method

Firstly you need to encourage good sleep habits throughout the day.

I allow the first two weeks of your babies life before I start sleep training from this point on ensure you do the following:

- Always place baby into his cot/ moses basket/seat to fall asleep- your baby needs to wake up in the same place they fell asleep to feel secure sleeping.

- Let baby fall asleep on her own- don't rock her or sing to her etc - certainly don't do anything drastic like drive her round the block to get her to sleep.

- If your baby needs calming before he gets to sleep you can stroke or pat him but as soon as he is calm stop.

- Don't make the house silent when your baby is sleeping- you'll turn her into a demanding sleeper and also newborns find the hustle and bustle of the house comforting when they are drifting off- it reassures them you are still there.

- Listen to your baby's cues- most newborns will get tired after being awake for an hour- an hour and a half at the most- if they start to get grizzly at this point follow their cues and put them down to nap- don't try feed them or play with them.

- Other clues that your baby is tired are yawning, whining, lack of interest in toys, rubbing eyes and pulling ears.

Sleep in a newborn is closely linked to feeding so to ensure your baby sleeps through you must do the following:

- keep night feeds functional- don't talk to your baby, play with your baby and try to keep the room dimly lit- this reinforces the message that nighttime is for sleep.

- Only feed your baby when they are hungry! This is very important- I found that every time my babies cried a well meaning relative would pipe up " I think she needs feeding". Newborn babies have no other means of communicating and so when they cry there are a whole range of possibilities as to what they want- it is not necessarily to be fed!

- To make sure your baby is hungry and not crying for another reason think about when he were last fed- a newborn should feed every 2 to 3 hours on average so if you have fed him less than an hour and a half a go chances are he don't need feeding. Eliminate other possibilities- is he tired, over stimulated, bored, cold, hot, wet, needing a cuddle? Finally listen to his cry- the hunger cry is a rhythmic and relentless waa sound that will not be pacified by anything other than food.

- Do not nurse your baby to sleep- One it's a bad habit to get into but more importantly if your baby is falling asleep at the breast she will only get the watery first milk and will fall asleep before she gets to the rich and satisfying hind milk. This means even though you have just fed her she will soon need feeding again. For your baby to sleep through she will need to be having good, long, satisfying feeds this is why it is important to only feed your baby when she is hungry.

- Do not wake your baby to feed- Follow his cues! If he was hungry he would wake up himself. Some experts recommend a 'dream feed' at around 11 to help your baby sleep through- I would avoid this for the above reasons.

-There is however one instance when you can wake your baby to feed- If your baby is particularly sleepy during the day and only feeding every three hours it may have a knock on effect on his night sleep- if you find this is happening wake him up during the day and feed him every two hours instead.

On top of doing all this I would highly recommend following the Core Night Method. This is explained step by step in the excellent book Sleep: The Easy Way to Peaceful Nights By Beatrice Hollyer and Lucy Smith.

The Core Night again is all about following your baby's cues. Look out for a night, usually around 4 weeks, when your baby will suddenly sleep for a longer stretch of time than normal- this is now their Core Night. Your baby is essentially telling you I can sleep for this amount of time without being fed.

From this point on you never feed them during these hours. If your baby does wake up during her core night simply soothe her back to sleep with a dummy/pacifier or by patting her etc.

If your baby really won't settle you can give them some cooled boiled water. Obviously use your judgement as a parent if he is screaming for milk then you will have to give him milk.

The main thing is, as soon as the core night is established, if your baby wakes don't immediately pull them out of their crib and shove them on your boob/bottle- try to soothe them first - you may be pleasantly surprised.

Good Luck and Happy Sleeping!

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Comments 13 comments

MP50 4 years ago

Hello MM welcome to HubPages, happy hubbing.

Brooke 4 years ago

My dad said I always slept through the night. I never ever slept during the day. EVER. And I never woke up at night. After a month probably... But yeah. I don't know how that worked at all..

wizardofodds profile image

wizardofodds 4 years ago from Wichita, Kansas

You've got it right sister! I followed these principles and even my preemie baby was sleeping through at just 3 months! It is possible. Thanks a ton!

Meg Moon profile image

Meg Moon 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

That's great I love hearing positive stories about babies and sleep instead of all the sleepless nights horror stories!

Pinkchic18 profile image

Pinkchic18 4 years ago from Minnesota

Great tips here! Very nice hub.

DenDen 4 years ago

Yeh I do all those things - I promise you. No dice for me ... Quite over it. Been over patient. Now I'm starting to hit the wall of impatience!

Meg Moon profile image

Meg Moon 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

@Denden how old is your baby and what are their sleep patterns like?

nancynurse profile image

nancynurse 3 years ago from Southeast USA

Well written . Something many new mothers need to hear!!!

Meg Moon profile image

Meg Moon 3 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Thank you - it's mainly based on my own experiences so I know it works- or it did for me at least.

Aime F profile image

Aime F 2 years ago from Trudeauland (it's like Disneyland but hotter)

I have to say I disagree with a lot of this.

The 'Core Night' thing is a bit perplexing; babies go through growth spurts when they'll need feeding more often, and just because they've gone X amount of hours without milk once doesn't mean that's a trend they'll want to follow. I think that's a big assumption.

I also think 6+ hours at six weeks is an incredibly unrealistic expectation. I know you're giving advice based on your experience, but I really think you got lucky with a good sleeper. It's perfectly normal for babies to wake for feeds every few hours until they're six MONTHS old. I think the National Sleep Foundation has probably based their '9 months' figure on a lot of research and data.

I'm very glad that this worked for you and there's no harm in trying to encourage a baby to sleep, but I think this will be very frustrating advice for those who have perfectly normal babies that just aren't capable of sleeping through the night at 6 weeks old.

Meg Moon profile image

Meg Moon 2 years ago from United Kingdom Author

@Amie F Thanks for your comment- I didn't make this up myself so it is based on what some experts say. Like every thing with babies, though there are lots of different theories and methods. This might nor work for everyone but the idea is more about being aware that there are things you can do and that if you go in it resigned to be up every night feeding until your baby is one then you might blindly do that without realising that your baby could have slept through much earlier.

I think it is very on trend to say every time a baby wakes up you should feed them, every time a baby cries you should feed them but I personally belief milk is not the answer to everything- food is just one human need so why should a baby not have more varied needs also?

My third baby woke up a lot- much more than the other two but it wasn't always for milk- the point is don't always give milk without thinking- could there be another thing my baby wants?

Hope that makes sense :)

Alison Meehan 2 years ago

This is a useful article since it's a lot different than other ones I've read. I'm trying hard to avoid the instinct to nurse my baby every time she cries, since I learned with my first one it was a bad idea. It took forever for her to find comfort from anything else because of this. The problem is, I LIKE nursing her to sleep and then holding her for a while and studying her precious face. But I've learned it will cause difficulties later, at least it did with my first one. However, I must mention that with my first child, I was working and HAD to nurse her at night in order to produce enough breast milk. Sometimes I'd go all day without pumping at work.

Meg Moon profile image

Meg Moon 2 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Thanks for your comments Alison. It's an interesting point you make about having to nurse at night. I knew a woman whose baby slept but she still had to get up at 4am to pump!

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