Being a parent is hard enough without adding sleep deprivation too. Nature is cruel to make us go through the process of pregnancy and birthing our babies (however they arrive into the world) then landing us with this little defenceless human who doesn’t let us have a good rest to get over it!
One of the main questions I am asked as a sleep coach, or in my baby massage classes is “When will my baby sleep through the night”?
It isn’t a question I can ever answer with any accuracy. What I can do though is offer up some facts which might help you understand why your little one isn’t sleeping through the night from 6 weeks old (although if yours is then that’s great :-))
Studies say that 85% of babies still wake at least once in the night until they are 18 months old. It really is ‘normal’ for your little one to wake in the night. Sometimes it feels like yours is the only child who doesn’t sleep through, hopefully knowing the real statistics you feel reassured that you’re not doing something wrong.
Babies don’t just wake because they’re hungry, it could be any number of reasons. Cold, noise, pain or just because! Babies are also programmed to wake to protect themselves from SIDS.
Babies are unable to self settle / self regulate as their brains aren’t developed enough until 4 or 5 YEARS of age. Knowing this, how can we truly expect our little ones to be able to get themselves back to sleep when they’re in a state of upset or stress? If your little one is crying they literally can’t calm down by themselves to be able to settle off to sleep. They need us to help, this might be by feeding, rocking, patting, singing whatever works.
What can I do?
Don’t expect too much too soon. Be responsive to their needs. You are not spoiling your child by being there when they need you. Studies tell us that a child who has been responded to consistently when they are younger is actually more independent when they are older and NOT the other way around!
Don’t compare your baby to others. They are all different, with different personalities and different needs. Trust me there’s always someone in the baby groups who is loud and proud about their baby’s ability to ‘sleep through’ and that’s great for them, I can assure you that the other 90% in the room is probably in the same boat as you.
Keep breastfeeding exclusively if you can, as these Mums report that they have better sleep than mixed feeding or formula feeding Mums. This is not a judgment (I’m a formula Mum), just what the evidence says.
Try and get at least 4-5 hours in one go, this is the amount of sleep that we feel makes a difference to us. Ask for some help if necessary.
Practical sleep tips
It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are lots of things you can do to make it better and give you THE BEST chance of getting a great night’s sleep.
- Make sure your little one is getting the right amount of sleep in the day for them, over tiredness REALLY affects nighttime sleep (and early rising!)!
- Keep the lights low in the evenings
- Have a calm and nurturing bedtime routine
- Offer a sleep-inducing bedtime snack
- If you use white noise play it ALL night long
- Work with a sleep coach!
Above all remember this is a phase in your life that will pass, this isn’t forever. You can do it.
As normal as it is for them to wake in the night if your child is waking 4/5 times or even more, there is most likely a strategy we can find that will improve that.
If you feel like you’re at the end of your tether because your little one’s sleep is so disrupted and you need help, drop me a line, I offer free 15 minute consultations. My bespoke sleep packages are tailored to you and your family and give you the tools to be able to improve your little one’s sleep now and over the coming years. I am here to support you through the plan for as long as you need it.