Updated: Jun 18, 2019
As parents, we have a list of goals and expectations for our children and at the top of that list is usually a baby that is sleeping through the night. Many times, we become overwhelmed at what stage and age babies will tend to have longer stretches of sleep and breaking down the exact meaning of sleeping through the night.
Breaking Down Sleeping Through The Night:
There is often a misconception that at a certain age or time all babies will magically be sleeping through the night. Many medical professionals state sleeping through the night is defined as a stretch of 6 plus hours of sleep. This does not mean that your baby will not wake during this time period, it is being able to settle and move to the next sleep cycle without the intervening of sleep props, parents, or feedings. Frequent waking's during the night are developmentally appropriate and there can be waking’s between each sleep cycle or 2-6 times a night. It is important to evaluate the baby or child's age and working to decrease their sleep associations and number of waking's where a sleep prop is needed. Understanding what sleeping through the night entails is key before diving deeper into longer sleep stretches. Many parents believe sleeping through the night should be 10-12 hours of interrupted sleep. While this is the goal for many, you must evaluate your child's individual situation.
Setting Realistic Expectations:
This is one of the hardest factors to consider as we are constantly blasted with news articles, friends advice, the latest trends and research on our children especially when it comes to their sleep. A newborn baby will have much different needs and requirements than an 8-month-old baby. One of the main areas of focus for newborns is implementing the proper and healthy sleep foundations along with sleep basics for a strong sleep environment. Newborns are not able to implement strict schedules and routines, it is important to understand the sleep science and education at each age. Every phase and age will have different realistic expectations, and setting up the basics from the beginning is extremely important as your baby grows and develops.
Factors To Considered:
Is baby relying on sleep props and causing additional waking’s during the night?
Sleep props are anything that a baby associates with helping them get to sleep or back to sleep at their waking’s. This includes naps, bedtime and overnight sleep.
Are babies taking in a good adequate feeding when they require a feeding overnight, or are they using a bottle or breast feeding as their pacifier and sleep prop?
Discussing with your pediatrician and health care providers the health and well-being of your child before working on longer stretches of sleep overnight.
Factoring in your child's overall sleep requirements in a 24-hour period. This includes overnight sleep plus nap totals.
Evaluate your situation and reach out for the much-needed help if you feel your baby is not meeting their healthy sleep foundations, environment or not receiving their daily sleep requirements. It can be a struggle to figure out the best plan for your baby or child as they have their own unique needs. Do not be tempted to put your child into a category with all babies, as their individual needs will be different from even a sibling, best friend's child or best bud at day care. I enjoy helping families develop peaceful sleepers and implementing healthy sleep education into their family dynamics.