The Dos And Don’ts To Get Your Breastfed Baby to Sleep Through The Night
For many moms, an exclusively breastfed baby sleeping through the night is almost unheard but this does not mean it does not happen. Unlike babies that take formula from an early age, it just takes more effort and probably much longer for the baby to start getting the long shut-eye. And the main reason for this is the fact that besides from being more nutritious, breast milk is also way much easier to digest than formula and so the babies will get hungry within a short time and this means they will need to wake up to feed more often.
The good news is that with a little patience and training it is possible to get your breastfed baby to sleep through the night or at least for a few more hours. But, before we get to the dos and don’ts to achieve this, here is a breakdown of the amount of time that you should expect (realistically) the baby to sleep at night at different stages of development.
- Newborn: For a newborn, you should expect him to sleep for three hours continuously because he will need to refuel more often. But, some can sleep for much longer than this in the first few days as they tend to be quite tired.
- 2 to 3 Months: 5 and 6 hours of sleeping for a breastfed baby is as good as you can expect when he is 2 to 3 months. But, some can start skipping early morning feeding by the time they get to three months and end up sleeping for a couple more hours.
- 4 to 5 Months: At 4 to 5 months, you can expect your little one to sleep for up to eight hours on a single stretch. And this is because at 4 months the baby weighs around 11 pounds which means that he does not need nighttime feeding.
Here are some of the things that you should do if you want the baby to sleep through the night:
#1. Do Nurse The Baby Before Bed
Whether your baby has been asleep for a few hours or not, it is always a good idea to breastfeed him before jumping to bed. And this is one of the reasons why it is always a great idea to have him in your room. Even if the baby is too sleepy to breastfeed a lot, just topping him up with a few sips can make him sleep for a few extra hours.
#2. Do Stretch Out And Shorten Nighttime Feedings
It is a fact that your newborn will need to feed at least every couple of hours but once he gets to three or four months, it is okay and also a good idea to start stretching out the feedings. Do this at nighttime but make it gradual by adding 30 minutes or an hour between feedings, and with a little patience you can stretch out the feeding until the baby is able to sleep through the night.
As you stretch out the feedings, it is also a good idea to shorten the feeding time. Start cutting off a few minutes from his usual feeding time over the course of one or a couple of weeks until he gives up on the nighttime meal.
#3. Do Establish Nighttime Routine
One of the most useful remedies for adult sleep issues is establishing and following a nighttime routine. A routine can also work for your infant and it is never too early to start it. Whether you prefer telling stories or singing to your baby before bed just start it. A warm bath before bed is also a great idea. These routines help to send signals to the baby’s brain that it is time to get some long sleep and if you are consistent enough, he should be able to sleep through the night sooner than you think.
Try to avoid the following things if you want your infant to sleep through the night:
#1. Don’t Rush To Pick Or Feed Him
Your motherly instinct will always drive you to pick up and start nursing your little one as soon as you hear him crying at night. But, this is not always a good idea. You should wait for a few minutes before nursing as the baby might doze off again or start entertaining himself. But if he gets too loud, try to sing him a soothing song or give him some gentle caress to see if he can go back to sleep without breastfeeding. Teaching him that waking up does not always result in a feeding will make it easier for him to sleep through the night.
#2. Don’t Change Diapers In The Middle Of the Night
Although different moms seem to have a varying opinion on whether to change diapers in the middle of the night or not, it is not a good idea to do it when baby is sleeping. Unless he has a bad mess or you can clearly see that he is unable to sleep, you should avoid changing diapers as this will only wake him up. And if you have to do it make sure that the light is as dim as possible and you are super quiet.
#3. Don’t Start Solids Too Early
In fact, babies that take solids tend to sleep longer than the exclusively breastfed ones. But introducing solids to your little one too early can trigger food allergies and can also be detrimental to his health. Also, combining solid foods with breastfeeding can in many instances lead to overfeeding which makes the baby uncomfortable and this means that he will find it harder to sleep.
A breastfed baby sleeping through the night might sound like a far-fetched idea but it is very possible. In fact, it should happen naturally as your baby grows older. And in case it does not, you can train him using the dos and don'ts above for ideas. But, all in all, the most important thing is to make sure that your baby is getting enough sleep and not concentrating on the length of the stretches he sleeps at night. As long as he is putting on the right amount of weight and seems happy, sleeping through the night is not a necessity.