Sleeping through the night. Yes it can be done, both of mine did it by 12 weeks, both breastfed. It was an important goal for me and prior to delivery I was thirsty for knowledge! How do I get them to sleep through the night? I read many books and I asked more experienced mums how they did it.
This is what I learned:
Work on a schedule rather than demand feed but be flexible. Try to stick to 3 hourly but be flexible. A good rule of thumb is no less than 2.5 and no more than 4, which basically means there must be a least 2.5 hours between each feeding but don’t let baby go more that 4 hours. This is a general rule however because there will be growth spurts, first one usually around 6 weeks, where baby will probably feed every 2 hours for a day or 2, this is fine and helps build supply anyway. Then go back to your regular routine. Baby should have up to 8 feedings in a 24 hr period. Are you seeing a theme here? Be flexible but not on demand.
A small scheduling trick, mid afternoon shorten to 2.5 hr for 2 feedings so as to begin to really fill baby. It also helps keep your supply going. Your schedule might look like this. 7,10, 1, 3:30, 6 , 8:30 ,11 ,then let baby sleep until he/she wakes….they can often go 4-6 hours! Which might be 3am. Then back to bed and wake time 7am to start again. Some adjusting each day is often necessary but that is the flexible part! Baby might wake at 6:30 tomorrow, then you feed, 6:30, 9:30, 12, 2:30, 5, 8,10:30.
On the nights baby’s last feed is a little earlier you can do something called the dream feed. If baby goes down for the night at 10 and you’re not quite ready for bed, then when you are at say 11:30 then go in, without really waking baby and top them up! It’s not a full feed but they will have a little filler and it will help them sleep longer and you know they are full and you’ll have at least 4-6 hours uninterrupted sleep. If you maintain a regular schedule like this then baby will get into a rhythm. The key is to be consistent but also flexible. If you can get baby into a routine early you should have them sleeping through the night by the time they are 12 weeks old, sometimes a little earlier!
I have heard “never wake a sleeping baby” but I tend to disagree especially if you’re trying to establish a routine. Often times newborns get messed up and want to sleep all day and hang out at night. So you need to wake them at regular intervals so they get the desired amount of feedings in and also they “reset” their body clocks.
The other thing to know is that it’s important to get baby on a “feed, wake, sleep” cycle. It helps get the feeding schedule on track. That way when they wake up, they are genuinely hungry and not just fussy and you don’t have a baby that you need to stretch out for another hour before you feed them again. This is when the routine comes unstuck. The schedule could look like this. Wake 7am, feed time (which can take up to an hour for newborns with burping time) awake/playtime 8-8:30 , nap 8:30-10am, feed time 10-11, awake/playtime 11-11:20, nap 11:20, wake 1pm etc.
Newborns don’t have very much in the way of wake time, sleeping most of the time to begin with. As they grow their needs change. They sleep a little less and eat a little more. They also get very efficient at feeding so it will take less time and they will want to play more. The schedule will keep being adjusted but if you’re consistent, you can achieve your goal of an unbroken nights sleep