Sleeping Through The Night: 6 Key Facts
NZ Sleep expert Emma Purdue remembers her early experience of motherhood. Here she shares 6 key facts to help your baby sleep through the night
4 min read
I remember being pregnant with my first baby, I bought a cute little coffee machine from Starbucks and thought I would be fine coping with no sleep at night as long as I could have a coffee in the morning. I had no idea how long it would take for my baby to start sleeping at night, but assumed I would be fine.
I only knew one other person with children and her children didn’t sleep through the night until they were toddlers. So that was my only point of reference.
Mums are tired to the bone
Fast forward a few months into motherhood and I was tired to the bone. I was getting up at least 3-4 times a night, I was recovering from surgery for a breast abscess, (yeah breastfeeding was going swimmingly!) and coffee wasn’t even touching the sides of how tired I was. Not to mention the stark realization I could only really have one coffee a day if I continued breastfeeding…!
I had no idea when my baby would sleep through, or how she would, or if this magical thing called night sleep was even possible for a baby. To say I was ill-prepared was an understatement.
I still remember those feelings of exhaustion and its one of the reasons I love going on a sleep journey with my clients as a sleep consultant. Your elation the first night you get to go to bed at 10pm and wake up well rested 8 hours later, I remember that feeling only too well! The holy grail of more night sleep.
6 facts on sleeping through the night
1. People have different definitions of sleeping through the night. Some people say 6 hours some say 8 hours some say 12. So asking someone when their baby slept through might not be the answer you are looking for.
2. Sleeping 12 hours a night isn’t usually possible until most children are well established on solids, eating 2 meals a day, having 3-4 good breast or bottle feeds a day, and eating a decent portion of protein. These things all take time, so you might not hit these milestones until 8/9/10 months.
3. Babies who sleep 12 hours a night from an early age often regress and start waking for a feed when they hit a growth spurt or their metabolic rate changes and they are genuinely hungry. Sticking to the core night method with a baby under 6 months and assuming because they slept through once they can continue to sleep through is misguided. If your baby is under 6 months and suddenly wakes once a night, chances are they are hungry.
4. Establishing a good evening routine is something which you can put in place from a very young age and will begin to set you up for successful night sleep. A bath and a good breast or bottle feed in a quiet dark room are perfect pre-bed activities.
5. Gently ensuring that your baby can fall asleep without you once age appropriate will help your baby consolidate their night sleep when they are ready. Otherwise, they will be looking for you as a sleep association to help them get back to sleep after each partial or complete sleep cycle overnight.
6. Once your baby is 4 months + wake ups before 10pm are usually related to being over tired. Wakeups around 1am can be related to your dream feed not working, and wake ups around 3 or 4am, can sometimes mean you are doing too much late afternoon sleep.