You just brought your newborn home and emotions of excitement and nerves are flying everywhere. You know that you had done the right thing by hiring help as you are in no shape to clean or cook, and organize your belongings. You don’t even have the energy to organize the baby’s belongings such as the brand new vintage baby clothes that you had gotten as a shower gift for the baby. And you also know you are going to be in for many sleep-deprived nights to come, and as they begin to approach, you are going to be wondering when does the baby sleep through the night?
The answer to that question is, it varies. What do you consider to be sleeping through the night? If you are hoping to get a full 8 hours of sleep as you did before you were even pregnant (because you were up in the night going to the bathroom which was only preparing you for what you are dealing with now), don’t expect that to happen until the baby is between 6 to 9 months of age.
However, you will be grateful to have a good 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. And that can happen as early as 6 weeks of age. However, there are ways to determine how close your baby is to sleep through the night. Let’s take a look at those now:
The Startle Reflex Is Decreasing
The startle or moro reflex is a reflex that is involuntary and all newborns have it. This is when they are jittery, especially when there is a loud noise, and this also can wake them up. The reflex begins to decrease after 4 months of age and completely stops by 6 months. However, if the baby is swaddled well, then this will help them get through this phase and this will help them sleep even with the reflex. It is there because it is a result of the nervous system is still developing.
The Baby Is Gaining Weight Well
A sign that your baby will become closer to sleeping through the night is when your baby is gaining weight at a healthy rate. This means when you take your baby in for checkups at the paediatrician’s office and the paediatrician is satisfied with the weight gain, then this is a good sign that your baby is getting closer to that time you have been looking forward to.
That also means if you find that your baby is hungry more often than 2 hours apart and you are strictly nursing and if your baby is not gaining weight well or is losing- then you will need to supplement which will help your baby gain the weight needed.
Your Baby Does Not Need To Feed As Often At Night
When the night feedings are decreasing, that in itself is a sign that the baby is getting closer to sleeping through the night. The sign of that is when you give your baby a nighttime feeding and the infant is not taking in as much as before and is less enthusiastic about being fed – that is a sign that the night feedings will become history soon!
Your Baby Has Found Ways To Soothe Him Or Herself
As your baby begins to mature, you will notice that he or she will not need you to soothe them as often as they will have found ways to calm themselves down. They may suck their thumbs which is an example of self-soothing. Parents often worry about thumbsucking as that may be a habit that is hard to break and they have heard that thumbsucking can cause the teeth to grow in poorly. That would potentially mean braces down the road. But there is no need to worry about the infant sucking his or her thumb.
This habit only becomes an issue after he or she is old enough to start elementary school. If your baby is thumbsucking as a way of self-soothing, allow it to happen.
All of these stages are signs that your baby will be ready to sleep through the night and it can vary by the infant. But again, if you are looking to get a good 5 hours of sleep, then it is realistic to believe that as early as 6 weeks the baby can start sleeping for that long of a stretch. However, again between 6 to 9 months is when the baby will begin to sleep 8 hours in the night.
There are also ways that you can help encourage it along so your baby gets the hang of it potentially a little earlier, depending on the development:
- Make daytime lively and night time quiet – If you want your baby to start getting the nights and days together, then you have to be active and loud and keep the lights bright during the day. And at night, you need to dim the lights and stay quiet. This will send the message.
- Use a white noise machine – Those white noise machines are very soothing and you will want to get one to put into the baby’s nursery right away. It is one of the best investments to make.
- Get a swaddle blanket – Swaddle blankets are safe and will help keep the baby feeling secure which will keep the baby calmer. That in itself will help the baby sleep through the night.
- Keep nap times consistent – It may be counterintuitive to hear that babies need to get their days and nights together but they also need naps. If they don’t get naps during the day, they will become overtired and will be very cranky and will not sleep through the night. You don’t need to change your baby either for naps. Your baby could be wearing those cute punk baby clothes and nap in those just fine.
- Stay consistent with a routine – If you have a routine that involved a feeding at night, then bathtime, and then bedtime, keep it consistent. Eventually, the baby will predict each event and staying on a routine will help encourage sleeping well and through the night.
That means, yes, you need to be patient as the newborn has a lot of growing to do which means frequent feedings and diaper changes around the clock. But as he or she grows and matures, before you know it, he or she will sleep through the night!