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How To Help Your Baby Sleep Longer At Night

By Lisa Hayden / August 29, 2020
sleeping baby

What is more profound than watching a baby sleep? The peace and tranquility in its face can lift up the spirits of parents and help forget all the hard work and exhaustion experienced through the day.

A baby about to fall asleep.

Helping your baby sleep longer will help you get more sleep!

At start,  parents think that welcoming a baby is a joyous experience. After all you have been waiting for that moment of your life when you would hold the little bundle of joy in your arms and be proud of your parenthood. But little did you expect that all the joy will soon be transformed into panic, frustration and exhaustion especially if you are a first-time parent. Parenthood brings in a lot of responsibility and a sense of nurturing.

One common question that every parent have in mind is “When do babies start sleeping longer?”. Most young parents may wish to know how long their infants can sleep to sustain a healthy growth. A baby’s sleep pattern is different from that of an adult because most of the baby's growth and development occur in her sleep in the initial stages. Hence, it is important for her to sleep longer than others. Within six months, most babies can sleep through the night. While others may not sleep despite being 12 months old. Some are capable of sleeping 12 hours or more without needing to wake up for feeding. It is different with each baby. But we can all follow a few tips explained later in this document to bring in a standard routine.

Babies usually experience REM (Rapid Eye Moment) sleep in the initial phases of their growth. A REM sleep is not a continuous deep sleep but rather a small stage of the sleep period. This pattern of sleep is known to be essential for mental development. Babies experience REM sleep in their initial growth phase which is responsible for aiding their mental development as they grow. They may wake up to be frequently fed. This phase may be hard to some young parents and make them feel this is a never ending task for them, and the unpredictability can leave you sleep deprived. Hence, you may need a lot of patience and dedication to tread past this phase.

It is undeniably an uphill task to getting your baby adapted to the regular sleeping pattern. A new-born sleeps for 16-18 hours in a day but wakes up every 2 hours for a feed irrespective of day or night. As and when they grow the duration of sleep increases and the number of feeds decreases. By the end of 6 months they must be able to sleep for at least 5 hours at a stretch. The sleep pattern changes as rapidly as their growth. In the initial days they wake up for a feed and then need to be comforted or caressed to go back to sleep. But the key here is to allow them to soothe back to sleep on their own as this will give them an opportunity to discover themselves. For this the mother should be extremely patient and understanding as this will only help both parents and the child.

If you are having a hard time putting your baby to sleep then you are not the only one. If the baby isn’t sleeping well, then you are sleeping well enough and the sleep deprivation cascades into next day, compounded with the daily issues, can only make your life more miserable. In fact, about one quarter of kids under 5 have sleeping issues. They refuse to go to bed, walk at nights or do both together. This is when you wonder how to get your baby to sleep through the night?

Below are a few tips on how to train your baby to sleep longer and soothe itself to sleep if awake at night times:

Understand The Sleep Requirements Of Your Baby

During the initial 3 months, a new-born’s needs to feed and sleep well as the growth happens mostly during sleep. A baby sleeps 16 to 18 hours per day, feeding every 2 hours in between. This is because a baby doesn’t know the difference between day & night. Hence he sleeps regardless of day or night. This literally means that a baby’s awake time might be between 1 AM and 5 AM. But as day progresses they tend to sleep slightly longer.

Understanding Signs Of Sleep

Experts suggest, observing and looking out for the signs that the baby gives indicating the need to sleep can help her sleep better. Babies usually indicate the need to sleep by yawning, tugging body parts, rubbing eyes and crying. Hence, it is better to put her to sleep when she is drowsy. This method trains her to sleep herself without needing the parent to help her soothe back to sleep.

Have A Proper Bedtime Routine

Research shows that babies following a proper nightly bedtime schedule can sleep easier, better & cry less at midnight. Few parents begin their little one’s bedtime schedule as early as six to eight weeks old. Experts suggest creating your baby’s sleep schedule with a combination of activities slowly leading to bed is a great way of hinting the baby that it is bedtime. But be sure you carefully choose the routine which is peaceful and soothing and not playing any games or exposing the child to visitors or any other new stimuli. You could probably give her a warm shower, dress her comfortably, feed sufficiently, give her a comforter (a toy, cloth, pillow etc) and then dim down the lights of the room to slowly go to sleep. The important aspect of the bedtime routine is being consistent every single day. This helps the baby understand the routine better and train itself accordingly. This will greatly help the baby to distinguish between the night and day times.

Early Bedtime

Thought this is self-explanatory but you would not believe how parents push their kid’s bedtime, with a hope that they could sleep longer next morning. Early bedtime is between 7 and 8:30 PM & not later than 9 PM. Obviously, you don’t want your little one to be overtired, else he or she will fight for going to sleep. On the other hand, you might not want your baby to provide a late doze thinking that he or she could stay awake longer. But this often backfires. You are better giving fewer naps. This gives more and better nighttime sleep.

Cuddle Your Baby

Yet another nice way to put your baby sleep peacefully through the night is by cuddling. Believe it or not, this trick greatly works. Comfort your baby so that he or she knows it is time to sleep. Lie down together & cuddle, pretend as if you are sleeping, firmly making her know it is bedtime.

Tune Into Your Baby’s Basic Needs

During daytime, you can make your baby feel 100% protected by carrying him or her in the sling. However, if your baby wakes up at night, consider working out why. Check the nappy. Is it full? Your baby is suffering a cold? Are the nightclothes comfortable? Check every possible thing you can.

Make Your Baby’s Daytime Feeds Lively & Social

It is very important to do this. Daytime meals – lively & social while nighttime feeds got to be calm & quiet. This helps your baby learn the difference between day & night.

What if My Baby Wakes Up In The Night? 

  • Wait & See If Your Baby Settles On Its Own : 

    If your baby is 4 or 5 months old, just wait to see if he or she settles on her own. For some reasons, if your baby keeps on crying and doesn’t seem to stop even after putting him or her down, try patting gently. Tell that everything’s fine and it is time to sleep. Leave the bedroom & wait for few minutes to check again. Now, even after the 3rd or 4th try, you feel your baby is still getting distressed, pick him or her up gently to see if he or she is all right. Repeat the procedure if everything is fine.

  • Slight Body Movements Are Normal : It is normal to witness a baby smiling, twitching, and jerking in her sleep. These are the typical response when a baby is in deep sleep. Albeit, it is important to pay attention to her if she cries longer. It could be an indication of a discomfort she could be experiencing. A child crying during the sleep could refer to feeling cold, hungry or an illness. Hence, you are required to investigate and confirm the health of your child.
  • Wait Before Getting In : 
  • If the baby gets up at night, don’t just instantly go in. Wait for some time prior getting insider her room. Often parents run inside as soon as their babies cry. Yes, of course, as a parent, you cannot stop yourself from going near your baby but this will create a habit. The next time when you don’t appear, he or she will start making fuss & whine longer. If you run to them more quickly, you are robbing the chance of settling themselves on their own. Wait for a few moments to see if your baby is crying in the sleep or have momentarily woken up to seek attention. If she settles down after a while then you don't need to attend to her. But if it continues for more than a few minutes than it is time to have a look. 

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