When should baby sleep through

When should baby sleep through

The $64,000 question. Every parent expects a few sleepless nights and is prepared to accept this. Usually because they know it isn’t for ever but they still want to know when their baby should sleep through the night.
 
Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to baby sleep. Plenty of experts tell you ‘by 3 months your baby should, etc..’ and by 6 months your baby should, etc…’ and so on. Plus, we’ve all met those parents who tell us how their little one has always been good at sleeping and has done so since they were a few weeks old. But your baby doesn’t play by the rules and whether they fight sleep, go to bed and wake up an hour later or don’t sleep properly because they’re crying in their sleep, the same sleep training rules apply – define your routine and stick by it.
 
Below is a list of some of the things we’ve learned over the last few years. Some of the suggestions were from health visitors, some from friends and even some advice from random strangers in supermarkets. Mostly, though, it was trial and error and a bit of commons sense. Please take the time to have a look through, but if you’re desperate to get started, you can jump straight to our free baby sleep tips page.

A few things we’ve learned that really helped our kids sleep through the night

Consistency is key

Consistency is key: whether you are coaching your newborn baby or are now at the stage of toddler sleep training, adhere to same routine – If the problem is bedtime, then always follow the same ‘wind-down’ pattern – If the problem is waking through the night, then calm your child in the same relaxed mood, hushing noises and room-lighting each time.
 
If you are trying or considering trying controlled crying then, again remember to adopt the same regimented approach. Your aim here is to wean baby off the security they get from you and to sleep on their own, so the periods that you leave them to cry for should be the same, night after night. We have covered other aspects of baby sleep and what we’ve learned about it below and also provided a list of free baby sleep tips that you can use straight away.
 
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Trust YOUR instinct as a parent

Although there may be times you don’t feel like do, YOU know YOUR own baby best. You learn pretty early on to make a distinction between their types of cries. And it’s this same feeling that will lead you to the right method for guiding your baby to a better night’s sleep.
 
When you’re stuck in the moment of feeding, changing and amusing your baby (not to mention the mountain of washing, ironing and housework) you forget to think! And by that I mean, let your brain work out what to do next. Sometimes you just need a bit of breathing space just to sit and have a think about the next step rather than just muddle along hoping it will get better by itself – it won’t! So, have that cup of tea whilst baby watches a bit of TV and give yourself the time to think.
 
What I used this time for…
- To help me realise that until our boy stopped feeding so aggressively at night, I couldn’t start to help him to sleep better.
- The type of milk and food I gave him in the evening had a bearing on his night’s sleep.
- What we did before bedtime had to have an order to it. Remember the routine!!
 
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Develop your baby’s sleep routine

We never enjoyed a solid sleep pattern during the day or night. Colic which lasted up until he was 7 months then reflux that occurred when he got very upset or had a cough, lasted until he was around 13-15 months. Our youngest son suffered from colic which began the first night he was born. This lasted 4 months and he also had reflux and a sensitive gag reflex which led to issues at meal times.
 
Because of previous experiences, we felt more confident to try ways in training to help him sleep and there in the midst of these trials and errors we started to make progress.
 
We started to work to a routine that went like this:
In the morning, our youngest woke between 6-7am, we had breakfast by 7.30am and then a bottle of milk around 10.30am. About 11am we took him for a walk in the pram, and he fell asleep between 11.20am and 11.45am. He slept for around 1 to 1 1/2 hours, woke for lunch around 1-1.30pm. He had a bottle of milk and a biscuit around 3.15pm and main meal around 5.45pm. His evening bottle was at 8.15pm (in his room – remember the wind-down routine). When he fell asleep, I lay him in his cot. Sometimes he woke up crying so I picked him back up quietly, without looking at him and settled him once more.
Sometimes he woke between 9.30-10.30pm – I’d settle him. We we sticking to the ‘going in to his room every time he cries’ routine. Between 1am and 3.30am he’d wake again if he wouldn’t settle, it was usually hunger. I’d change his nappy and he’d have a full 8 1/2 ounce bottle. This would settle him and I’d lay him down in his cot again. He grew out of this aggressive feeding behaviour and we eventually manage to soothe him without picking him up. Success!
 
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Why does my baby hate sleeping in a cot?

Our eldest child hated his cot, day or night, he’d wake, crying and struggle to get out. Perhaps it was the thought of being penned up with bars around you, trapped until the morning. This meant putting him down awake was a nightmare and may have contributed to the fact we never got through the ‘crying it out’ stage.
 
Things did change, literally overnight when we put him in his first bed aged about 15 months. He really took to it and we found we could put him down awake at night. It changed our life and we enjoyed a little bit of normality – till another minor illness upset the routine. But that’s another story…
 
Our youngest wouldn’t go in his cot during the day at all. He managed short naps but not enough to get him through the rest of the day. Mainly he slept in his pram in the house after a walk. Needs must!
 
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Teach your child to WANT to sleep

Out of all my friends in ‘The Happy Baby Group’ I believe I had the toughest time getting our boys to sleep at night. The would say, ‘I don’t know how you function, if that’s what it’s like for you all the time’. You get used to crying and disturbed or sleepless nights and you learn to adapt to it.
 
So how did we teach our kids to WANT to sleep? With our eldest, it was all about making him feel ‘grown up’. We got him a ‘big boy’ proper bed, which he helped us pick – this made more than happy to climb up into it and lie down. A ‘big boy’ pillow and duvet, that he enjoyed getting comfy and cosy in . We’d tell him ‘you have all your lovely things around you so when you wake up you know exactly where you are’. During the day we would say things like, ‘If you don’t sleep well at night you won’t grow up to be tall and strong’. He liked this, he felt he was growing up. And in return, I think he felt his bed and having a sleep wasn’t such a bad thing.
 
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Listening to advice

As new parents you take all the advice you can get but often people give off-the-cuff advice without understanding what you are going through. Try to remember when you are weary, tired and stressed, it’s usually given with the best of intentions.
 
Do what you have to do to get a good night’s sleep, getting back in to a good routine can be rescued another day. If you have to stand at the window looking at the moon and stars because they have tummy pain or a tooth coming through – just do it! If you have to sit through baby tv at 11pm at night until they relax enough to sleep – just do it! And if you have to flick through a book to take their mind off why they woke up crying – just do it!
 
We recommend joining a baby group (ask your health visitor), even though it seems like hard work getting a baby ready and out for a few hours, the time spent with others who are going through what you are going through is worth it. Lisa, Lorna, Samantha and Sharon of the Happy Baby Group in Hamilton you were my saviours. Bless you all and your little ones.
 
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Things that throw your newly established sleep routine out the window.

I think all sleep deprived parents could write volumes on this topic – it’s pretty infinite really.
- Teething – especially in our case the back teeth.

- Coughs and Colds – oh the endless remedies to help settle them at night. 

- Holidays – a new environment to settle into
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- The new born – Introducing another baby in to the mix.
 
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