You've asked it, we've asked it. The neighbours are probably even asking it! This time, we've asked Sleep Consultant Luci Corley from The Luna Sleep Co to weigh in on one of parenthoods toughest questions!
When will my baby sleep through the night?
This is a difficult question to answer without getting into some specific details, which is unfortunate, because when parents ask me this, I know they’re looking for a quick, concise, time-based answer.
“Three nights from now,” or “when bub is six months old,” are the kind of responses they’re hoping for, and the kind I wish I could give them, but there are a lot of factors to consider and things to understand before you can narrow down the timeline.
The first thing I feel parents need to understand is this…
Your baby will never sleep through the night.
That’s right! They won’t sleep through the night when they’re toddlers, or when they’re teenagers, or even when they’re grown-ups, because nobody ever does.
We human beings sleep in cycles, which vary from light sleep to deep sleep and back again. Occasionally, when we’re in the light sleep stage of a cycle and we hear a noise, or we’re in the middle of a crazy dream, or if the dog jumps on the bed, or we shift a little, whatever it may be, it is often enough to wake us up. As adults however, we have experienced this countless times, so we just shake it off and go back to sleep. Most of the time, the wake-up is so brief that we don’t even remember it the next day.
But for babies who are used to being rocked, sung, bounced or fed to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night quite often requires some sort of external help to get back into a peaceful slumber.
So that’s the reason why baby’s never going to sleep through the night, but then, that’s not what parents are really asking.
What they want to know is, “When will my baby be able to get back to sleep on their own?”
That’s a much easier question to answer.
Quite simply, this will happen when they learn how.
When you teach your little one to go to sleep on their own, they’ll be able to employ that skill multiple times a night, every night, for the rest of their lives, what a glorious gift to give to your child!
Now, there’s more to it than just leaving your baby alone in their cot and letting them figure it out for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, that approach has worked for a lot of people, but it’s not one that everybody is comfortable with, and it’s not the most gentle or effective way of teaching your baby to have great sleep skills.
The traditional Cry-It-Out approach is a lot like throwing your child in the deep end at the pool and expecting them to know how to swim a length of the pool straight away. If you did this time and time again, they would probably figure it out, but in reality, most of us would enrol our kids in swimming lessons and teach them the basics of swimming in a much calmer, relaxed environment. At the end of the day, don’t we all learn to master new skills much quicker and easier in a calmer environment?
As with any skill, practise is essential. And yes, when they’re learning to swim there’s likely to be some tears, but this should not discourage you from teaching them the skill at all, right? They may get frustrated, they may get upset, but with a little time and practise they will learn. As parents, what we can do is offer them support, give them some comfort when they need it and reassure them that they can (and will) do it!
What we can’t do is swim for them.
Well, the same thing goes when it comes to teaching your child how to fall sleep, and to be honest you would be surprised just how quickly they can learn this skill. Whatever it is that you’ve been doing up until now to get your child to go to sleep at bedtime, in the middle of the night or even during the day when they go down for a nap, is essentially like you doing the swimming for them. Whether it’s giving them a dummy, rocking them or feeding them to sleep, whatever the “sleep prop” is, until they learn how to fall asleep without it, they will continue to need it, and by it, I mean you (mum or dad). And what better time to introduce them to a Kippin than when they’re learning to disassociate sleep with you! Whilst not a replacement for love and cuddles, it is a brilliant little cue for bub that sleepy time is near as well as providing a friendly little face for them to wake up to.
So, although I can’t give an exact date or age when your baby will go through the night without crying and demanding help to get back to sleep, I can tell you without hesitation that it will be much, much sooner if you stop doing it for them.
And if you need any help along the way, I’m here for you!
To find more about Luci and read some more brilliant articles on baby sleep, visit:
Website: The Luna Sleep Co.
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