Night Time Parenting is Hard!
There is no reason to question a healthy baby’s sleep habits
Becoming a parent is a very special time.
Getting to know your new baby and learning how to care for her needs can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. However, it can also be challenging, especially when you are tired and your baby is wakeful and wanting to feed frequently during the night. It might be reassuring to know that it is both normal and essential for your baby to feed during the night. Babies grow quickly in the early weeks and months of their lives and have very small stomachs.
Therefore they need to feed around the clock to meet their needs.
- All babies have a different ‘normal’
- All babies have different sleep habits
- Schedules and food are not related to baby sleeping through the night
- Your baby may be hungry during the night (breast milk digests in less than 2 hours)
- Baby may want to reconnect with mom
After the first few months, your baby will begin to associate the breast with far more than just a way to satisfy hunger and thirst.
It becomes a place of comfort, security, warmth, closeness, and familiarity.
Keep in mind that these needs are every bit as real as baby’s physical ones, and having them met is every bit as needful to baby’s overall development.
You are NOT doing a bad thing by nursing on cue; you are doing a wonderful thing for your baby.
When you comfort baby at night, you are not teaching them a bad habit: you are teaching baby that you are there for them when they need you.
What is “normal” when it comes to baby’s sleep?
It is common for breastfed babies to not sleep through the night for a long period of time.
On the other hand, some breastfed babies start sleeping through the night when a few months old.
Your baby will begin to comfort them self and to sleep for longer stretches at their own developmental pace.
If your baby wants to nurse at night, it is because they DO need this, whether it’s because they are hungry or because they want to be close to mom.
Beginning to sleep through the night is similar to a developmental milestone (like walking or toilet training) that your baby will reach when they are ready.
Trying to force baby to reach this before their time may result in other problems later on.
If you can try to take a more relaxed approach and trust that it will come in time, you’ll see your baby eventually become a good sleeper.
You’ll be able to rest peacefully in your heart and mind knowing that baby has reached this in their own time when they felt secure enough to do so.
Babies wake at night for many reasons, and they often start waking at night after sleeping through for a few weeks or months.
Some of the reasons for night waking (in no particular order) are:
- Developmental Advances (Crawling, Talking)
- Illness or Allergy
- Diaper Rash
- Hunger (Including Growth Spurts)
- Reverse Cycling
Some babies whose moms are away during the day prefer
to nurse often during the evening and night.
Does night waking last forever?
Night waking in babies and young children is normal and temporary!
Children grow out of night waking, even when we do nothing to discourage it. This period of time will be a very tiny part of your child’s years with you.
Your goal is to maximize sleep for everyone in the family, while respecting the needs of your child.
All parents find that they change the way they do things as their child grows older and reaches different developmental stages –
Sleep is just another thing that changes as your child grows.