Our 3 most common questions and answers regarding sleeping through the night:
Our team gets lots of questions about how to help babies to sleep through the night! While your pediatrician will help you decide when baby is physically and mentally ready to to sleep through the night, here are the 3 most common reasons babies wake through the night, even when they’re old enough to sleep 8 hour strethces on their own:
1. Why does my baby wake through the night when I know he or she is not hungry?
There are typically 3 reasons for this:
- Illness – when baby has an illness or discomfort such as congestion or ear infection; laying horizontally makes fluid in the inner ear or chest settle and makes getting comfortable very difficult for baby. Responding to baby as quickly as for as long as baby needs is of course recommended here.
- Teething – good old teething pain is often the answer to overnight wakefulness. Comforting baby is again the way to go (of course!)
- Habit – for healthy babies who have never slept through the night (and we are not saying whether they should or shouldn’t) wakefulness overnight means they are simply repeating their 3-4 hour daytime schedule of being awake for a few hours and then going to sleep for a few hours. For parents wishing to increase baby’s sleep time in this case, a gentle weaning of overnight feeds and increase in daytime feeds is appropriate. Here’s what we mean by that.
2. How do I know when to get rid of the swaddle?
When baby is rolling onto her stomach, the swaddle becomes a hazard. When baby is consistently “busting out” in the late 3rd month or month 4, he’s telling you he does not need the swaddle anymore. To eliminate the swaddle parents can simply go cold turkey or take a gradual step-down approach where we allow one arm out for several nights, then 2 arms and then eventually no swaddle at all.
3. How do I eliminate overnight feeds/the pacifier?
Anytime we are helping baby -and well, anyone really- learn a new way to do things we have two choices: cold turkey or gradual introduction. Cold turkey certainly cuts to the chase, but the gradual approach can be much more gentle and less jarring for baby.
For feeding this means that we can eliminate milk/formula altogether between certain hours or we can gradually wean the amount taken in during these hours. For nursing moms, gradual weaning is essential…it’s more gentle for baby and also gives mom’s body time to adjust. When it comes to the pacifier we can “cold turkey” it or gradually remove the pacifier after less and less time per pacifier “session”. For sleep training, it’s typically recommended to remover pacifier when baby stops sucking for a few moments, repeating this removal over and over until the pacifier is eventually not needed.
Whether baby room shares, sleeps in a crib, uses a pacifier or does any number of sleep behaviors, there are a LOT of right answers to what works to make a happy and peaceful family.