When will my baby sleep through the night? – The question on every mum’s sleep-deprived mind! And there’s no easy or obvious answer.
The National Sleep Foundation says that 70 per cent of babies sleep through the night by the time they are 9 months old. Some babies are able to go for 6-8 hour stretches from as young as 3 months.
Sleep expert Mandy Gurney (nurse, midwife, health visitor and co-founder of sleep clinic Millpond) says that a baby’s ability to sleep through the night is not related to size or diet, but rather to the maturation of his body clock and parental involvement in assisting sleep.
Babies are strange creatures; sleep is a skill, it needs to learnt and nurtured – as an adult who has been sleeping for many (many years) it’s difficult to imagine a time when it was an effort.
There are many different sleep philosophies: some mums sacrifice their social life to encourage a routine and may consequently produce a baby that sleeps through the night at 3 months, other mums are more casual in their sleep approach and it may take baby a bit longer to pull a ‘through the night’.
Some mums prefer to use a pacifier to help babs sleep and others do the ‘self-soothing’ thing. And then there is the ‘to cry or not to cry’ debate.
So, to answer ‘When will my baby sleep through the night?’, It can be complicated. And there are always exceptions to the ‘general rule’.
I’m sort of a middle-ground mum. Both my girls had (and still have) routines but I took them out and about from a very young age – I’ve always thought that a routine can be applied anywhere.
I’ve done controlled crying with both of them and neither had a dummy but both were partial to sucking their thumb (my eldest stopped at ten months and my nine-month-old is currently outgrowing the habit). My first baby slept through the night at 6 months (7pm-7am) and my second baby started sleeping through at around 8.5 months.
I didn’t force the issue with either of them; it happened naturally – both seemed to outgrow their 11 o’clock sleepy feed and before I knew it, I was able to claim back a full 8 hours. It was a happy day – both times around!
The most important lessons I learnt re babies and sleep is that if something doesn’t work, try something else, but also be consistent when you have figured out the best method. And don’t give up; one try is often not good enough!
Attitude is also important; with my second baby, I went through a stage whereby I was determined to try and make her sleep through the night but I adjusted my thinking very quickly. I realised that she just wasn’t ready and as soon as I became ‘okay’ with that, life became a whole bunch easier – and she was sleeping through a month later.
It’s often difficult to know when to step in and manage behaviour and when to just let your baby be; wisdom comes with experience and learning to be confident in the choices you make. You may not be a ‘baby expert’ but you do know your baby; trust your instincts and ask for help if you need it!