There is a lot to be said about babies sleeping through the night, various styles of parenting, sleep coaching and everybody has an opinion.
It’s a good idea to learn about the science of sleep and what is developmentally normal for babies.
Author Elizabeth Pantley has this to say on the subject here:
“The medical definition of “sleeping through the night” for a young baby is a five-hour stretch. That’s FIVE hours—not the eight, ten, or twelve hours that you may wish for! Most babies still awaken two to three times a night up to six months of age, and once or twice a night up to one year old. A baby is considered to be “sleeping through the night” when he sleeps those five consecutive hours without waking up to feed. While this may not be your definition of sleeping through the night, it is the reasonable yardstick by which we measure a young baby’s sleep. Yes, some babies achieve this stretch much sooner than others, but they do all get there eventually.”
The following are some baby sleep tips and basics that we’ve gained over the years that you might find useful:
1) Sleep begets sleep. A tired baby will not sleep well. Don’t wait until your baby is overtired as you may have an even harder time getting your baby to sleep. A well rested baby will sleep better. It sounds weird, but it works!
2) To make #1 easier, observe and learn the ways your baby signals that he is tired. Crying is actually a late signal. Some earlier signals may include: losing interest, decreased activity, becoming quieter, droopy eyes and more.
3) Don’t assume that all night noises mean that baby is awake and needs you. Some babies just make lots of noise when they are sleeping. Listen carefully and only pick up the baby if you are sure that she actually needs tending to. She may just be grunting, cooing or gurgling in her sleep and picking her up will disrupt her sleep cycle.
4) Babies do well with a routine and schedule. Put the baby to sleep at the same time each night after a regular night-time routine. The routine may include things such as: a feeding or snack, warm bath, cuddles, a massage, a book or a special song, rocking and off to sleep. The routine will change and grow as your baby grows. (For example, brushing teeth will be added once baby has teeth!)
5) It may take a few weeks to months before your baby will adjust to his own natural circadian rhythm. He has just left your womb where it was dark 24 hours a day. Following the night time routine mentioned above, letting light in in the morning and keeping the room dark at night helps baby to adjust to the right day and night hours.
6) Once #5 has occurred, naps that start or end after 3pm will likely keep baby up later in the day. (This applies mostly to older babies, not brand new infants who are still sleeping 18 hours a day.) Once your baby has adapted to the right day and night sleep pattern, it’s best to get baby to sleep for the night earlier than later. Try to avoid late naps unless you want to stay up late with your baby.