How To Get Through The Night With A Newborn

The Sleep Sense Program By Dana Obleman


Every new parent asks themselves, How can I get my baby to sleep through the night? While there arent any solutions that work every time for every situation, there are some things that parents can try to make this possible. With proper baby sleep training, it is possible for parents to get the rest they need as well as assuring that their child is getting the sleep necessary for normal development.

For many new parents, one of the biggest challenges of life with their new baby is the sudden reality of sleep deprivation. The main reason why new babies wake up so much during the night is simple biology their little stomachs can only hold a very small amount of breastmilk or formula. In other words, they wake up because they are hungry!

This is perfectly normal, of course, and you should expect to be up with your baby at least once during the night from birth until the age of about 3 months. But once a baby reaches about 4-5 months, they should be able to sleep through the night without waking for a feed.

Learn More about How to Teach Your Baby to Sleep through the Night

Unfortunately for many parents, it is often the case that children will continue to wake once twice even three or more times during the night to feed and this habit can continue for months or even years!

What About You Tips For Improving Your Own Sleep

Newborn sleep patterns take their toll on parents. In a study tracking the sleep patterns of mothers from pregnancy through the postpartum period, maternal sleep worsened after childbirth and continued to deteriorate until about 12 weeks postpartum -the time when newborn sleep patterns begin to show marked circadian rhythms .

Twelve weeks isnt forever, but it can seem like it when you are severely sleep restricted. As you struggle to cope with newborn sleep patterns, dont forget to look after yourself. Here are some tips to help you cope.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Night sleep develops first, so typically the first portion of the night is the longest stretch of sleep, says certified pediatric sleep consultant Tracie Kesatie, MA, of Rest Well Baby.

Kesatie recommends implementing a relaxing routine, such as taking a warm bath or reading a few pages of a book before bed, plus turning off electronics at least 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.

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Nighttime Decisions When Getting Baby To Sleep

Develop a realistic attitude about nighttime parenting

Sleeping, like eating, is not a state you can force a baby into. The best you can do is to create a secure environment that allows sleep to overtake your baby. A realistic long- term goal is to help your baby develop a healthy attitude about sleep. Baby should feel that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a secure state to remain in. Many sleep problems in older children and adults stem from children growing up with an unhealthy attitude about sleep. Such as sleep was not a pleasant state to enter and was a fearful state to remain in. Just as daytime parenting is a long-term investment, so is nighttime parenting. Teach your baby a restful attitude about sleep when they are young. By doing this, both you and your children will sleep better when they are older.

Beware of sleep trainers

  • Does this advice sound sensible, will it fit your babys temperament and does it feel right to you?

Sleep training may result in long-term loss

Using the rigid, insensitive let-him-cry-it-out method has several problems. First, it will undermine the trust your baby has for nighttime comfort. Second, it will prevent you from working at a style of nighttime parenting until you find the one that works best for you and your family, and third, it may keep you and your doctor from uncovering hidden medical causes of night waking. Night feedings are normal frequent, painful night waking is not.

Stay flexible when putting baby to sleep

Take Advantage Of Parental Leave

Getting Your Newborn to Sleep Through the Night

Employer policies on parental leave vary, but sometimes both parents can take time off from work, allowing them to more easily juggle baby care and leading to more sleep. For example, Mom might take time off from work right after the baby is born, and her spouse can take leave several weeks later, helping mom to get some sleep as she transitions back to work, says Pien.

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References: What Scientific Studies Say About Newborn Sleep

Anders TF. 1979. Night-waking in infants during the first year of life. Pediatrics 63: 860-864.

Bennett C, Underdown A, and Barlow J. 2013. Massage for promoting mental and physical health in typically developing infants under the age of six months. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Apr 30 4:CD005038. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005038.pub3.

Cheruku SR, Montgomery-Downs HE, Farkas SL, Thoman EB, and Lammi-Keefe CJ. 2002. Higher maternal plasma docosahexaenoic acid during pregnancy is associated with more mature neonatal sleep-state patterning. Am J Clin Nutr 76:608-13.

Cubero J, Valero V, Sánchez J, Rivero M, Parvez H, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C. 2005. The circadian rhythm of tryptophan in breast milk affects the rhythms of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin and sleep in newborn. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 26:657-61.

Cubero J, Narciso D, Terrón P, Rial R, Esteban S, Rivero M, Parvez H, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C. 2007. Chrononutrition applied to formula milks to consolidate infants sleep/wake cycle. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 28:360-6.

Custodio RJ, Junior CE, Milani SL, Simões AL, de Castro M, Moreira AC. 2007. The emergence of the cortisol circadian rhythm in monozygotic and dizygotic twin infants: the twin-pair synchrony. Clin Endocrinol . 66:192-7.

Dement W and Vaughan C. 1999. The promise of sleep. New York: Random House.

Doan T, Gardiner A, Gay CL, Lee KA. 2007 Breast-feeding increases sleep duration of new parents. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 21:200-6.

Image credits for Newborn sleep patterns

To Understand How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night You First Need To Know If Your Baby Is Able To Sleep Through The Night

You can also help set the stage for a good night’s sleep by making sure your baby is cultivating good sleep habits during the day, which will help them sleep better during the night too.

Your baby has to be able to sleep through the night before they can! There are a few milestones they need to reach first, like a decrease in Moro Reflex. Check out our article on When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night to learn if your baby is ready/able to sleep through the night.

If your baby is capable of sleeping through the night but still struggling, there might be an underlying reason your baby isnt sleeping through the night OR theyre right on the cusp of starting to sleep through the night. There are several reasons that can cause your baby not to sleep through the night, including sleep regressions, a growth spurt or illness, or the inability to fall asleep independently.

Whether your baby is experiencing one of the problems above, or theyve just surpassed the milestones to be able to sleep at night, there are ways you can help your baby sleep through the night.

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Why Dont Babies Sleep Like Adults

When youve got a newborn baby, an energetic toddler or a young child, its easy to feel as if getting eight hours sleep a night is just something that happens to other people.

Babies and children have very different sleep needs and patterns than grown-ups do. Most parents will encounter a sleep-related problem at some point whether its coping with the sleep-deprivation of life with a newborn, or handling night terrors or bedwetting in older children.

Here are some of the commonest sleep problems you might come across at different ages and stages, and some strategies to survive them.

Change Your Babys Diaper Strategically


Changing the diaper before a middle of the night feeding prevents the baby from waking up too much after a feeding is finished. When the baby wakes up change the diaper and re-swaddle to prepare him for sleep immediately following a night feeding. If you change the diaper after the night feeding, the baby may become too awake, making it more challenging for him to fall asleep.

Now, Ive also heard from parents of very young newborn babies sharing that the baby poops right after a night feeding. This is very common during the early newborn phase when babies are still working out the flow of their digestive tracts.

If your baby is consistently stooling after a night feeding, then certainly, just wait to change the diaper until after the feed. Once your babys gut matures and he or she stops stooling immediately after a night feed, you can go back to changing the diaper before the feed.

Read Also: When Do Newborns Stop Crying So Much

Refresh Yourself In Other Ways

When squeezing in your full 7 to 9 hours just isnt possible, there are other ways to rejuvenate besides just sleep. Pencil in time for listening to favorite music, reading, cooking, or even working on a favorite hobby.

You may be wondering how its even possible to pursue a hobby when you have a baby, but finding some time every day to do something that you really enjoy can help reduce stress, encourages Kesatie.

We also think its a great idea to just sit on the sofa and watch Netflix you do you!

Newborn Sleep Rhythms: Why Newborns Seem To Sleepand Wakearound The Clock

The timing of adult sleep is governed by circadian rhythms physiological changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. Many of these changes are influenced by your exposure to light.

For instance, when you expose yourself to sunlight during the day, you are helping your body calibrate its internal clock. Even if you are sleep-deprived, morning light helps ensure that you will be more alert during the day than you are at night.

Conversely, the absence of light at night helps your body wind down. When darkness falls, your brain interprets this as a signal to start producing melatonin, a hormone that triggers relaxation, paving the way for sleep.

You can easily disrupt this process by exposing yourself to artificial light sources in the evening especially sources of blue light . But as long as you stick with the program bright light during the day, and darkness at night you will likely find yourself in sync with the natural, 24-hour day.

And of course most adults are in sync. But its different for newborns.

Newborn sleep is not governed by strong circadian rhythms.

Things dont begin that way. Not when babies are still in the womb. During pregnancy, fetuses are tuned into their mothers physiological cues about day and night.

But after birth, this intimate hormonal connection is broken. Newborns must develop their own circadian rhythms of hormone production.

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Dealing With Baby Sleep Problems

All babies change their sleep patterns. Just when you think you have it sorted and you’ve all had a good night’s sleep, the next night you might be up every 2 hours.

Be prepared to change routines as your baby grows and enters different stages. And remember, growth spurts, teething and illnesses can all affect how your baby sleeps.

If your baby is having problems sleeping or you need more advice about getting into a routine, speak to your health visitor.

Check Out Our Sleep Tips

How to Get a Newborn to Sleep at Night (9 Tips ...

In Baby Sleep Simplified you’ll find sample schedules for every age through the first year, as well as tips on what you should focus on during every sleep stage to help your baby become a good sleeper. You can also check out our 7 Tips and Tricks on How to Get Your Newborn to Sleep or our 7 Highly Effective Sleep Tips.

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Swaddle Your Child For A Restful Nights Sleep

What exactly is swaddling?

Wrap your infant in a burrito-style blanket.


The Moro and startle reflexes are natural reflexes that are present from birth in healthy newborns. Congratulations on your healthy baby! It transforms your sleeping princess into a startled starfish. In seconds, you may wake up from a deep slumber! As a result, the swaddle.


If youre anything like me and half your food slips out as soon as you take up a burrito, youll need to practice. Swaddle with a friend who has a baby, borrow a baby doll, and go swaddle.

2 In a nutshell, follow a basic milk regimen when awake and active, then sleep.

Feed the baby, have a little amount of awake time/activity, and then go back to sleep.

WHY is a newborns sleep regimen beneficial?

This accomplishes two goals:

  • Your baby eats when he or she is the most awake and attentive, which promotes a complete feed.


The following is an example:

  • Baby wakes up from his or her sleep, or you wake up the baby .
  • Changing your babys diaper guarantees that he or she is fully awake and more likely to take a full meal.
  • Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding
  • Awake and active this may be as easy as a few minutes laying on a play mat or some tummy time in the early days. Or it might even be non-existent!
  • Make a nappy check
  • enchanting sleeping environment
  • Returning to sleep

Expect Not Sticking To A Routine

Since there is no awareness of night and day and no rhyme or reason to a sleeping or eating schedule in those early days its natural not to expect babies to follow a routine.

This can be hard for adults because we are accustomed to following a flow like waking up, getting ready, eating meals, and going to bed everyday.

Even if a baby appears to follow a flow one day doesnt mean it sticks to the next.

In the first few weeks of life newborns are adjusting to everything around them. Their five senses are getting acclimated to new surroundings. Their bodily functions are still developing. Some days they may be really gassy. Other days they may eat a lot more because of a growth spurt.

All of these factors contribute to them not sticking to the same routine. One night you may find them sleeping for a 5 hour stretch and then the next night they are up 5 times!

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