‘When will MY baby sleep through the night?’ is the most common question that I am asked. The first thing I tell parents in response to this ever-popular question is:
Your baby will never sleep through the night.
This is not a pessimistic answer, but a scientific reality. No matter the age of the child (or adult!), nobody ever truly “sleeps through the night”. Unless heavily sedated before going to bed, you will wake up multiple times throughout the night. This is a normal part of the human sleep cycle, as adults rise to the surface of sleep an average of 3 to 5 times per night.
How do sleep cycles affect my baby sleeping through the night?
Human beings sleep in cycles, which vary from light to deep sleep and back again. During a light sleep cycle, you may hear a noise, or shift positions, and that little disruption is enough to wake.
Adults experience this thousands of times in their life and can easily go back to sleep. Most of us do not remember waking: we roll over, re-adjust our pillow, and fall back asleep. Unlike adults, when little ones fall asleep with assistance, they wake looking for help to get back to sleep during their natural sleep cycle transitions. Babies used to being rocked, bounced, held, or nursed to sleep, will wake up and require external help to fall back asleep. It is nearly impossible for a baby who falls asleep with help to sleep through the night.
When will my baby learn to sleep through the night on their own?
A baby will sleep through the night when they are developmentally ready to and after they learn how. A lot of parents are worried that their baby won’t teach themselves the difference between daytime and nightime, but darkness is a friend, not an enemy, says BestForParents. A baby will eventually understand the dark and stop waking like they do when they are first born. That may seem like a rudimentary answer, but it is true. Most little ones will sleep through the night when they reach 12-15 pounds IF they have been taught how to fall asleep and stay asleep without “sleep props.”
Sleep is not an innate skill. Parents are often told that newborns are always sleepy or they assume that all babies are born knowing how to sleep, but that’s not the case. While “sleepier” babies do exist, the majority of little ones must be taught how to sleep on their own. There’s a LOT more that goes into teaching independent sleep skills than just leaving your little ones alone in their cribs or beds and letting them figure it out. That is certainly not the approach at Sleep Wise. While that method has worked for people in the past, it’s not the most gentle or effective way of teaching sleep skills.
How can I teach my baby to sleep through the night?
The traditional Cry-It-Out approach to sleep training is like leaving your child in front of a piano with sheet music and saying, “Figure it out.”. Eventually he might, and you might have the “Elton John of sleeping” on your hands. Assuming your child was not born gifted in the sleep department, they could benefit from clear lessons and support.
Practice is essential to learning new sleep skills, so letting your little one give it a shot is step one. There’s probably going to be a bit of protest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer comfort to your child while they are learning.
Sleep props are the equivalent of playing the piano for your child. If your goal is for your son or daughter to learn to sleep independently, it is important to truly teach the process and remove sleep props! This may mean your child initially expresses frustration over mastering something difficult. With time, consistency, and practice your baby will be sleeping through the night!
How long will it take to teach my baby independent sleep?
There’s no exact timeframe, date, or age when your baby will learn to sleep independently. And while they will never truly sleep through the night due to sleep cycles, they’ll learn to journey through those stages of sleep more soundly and on their own once they have the skills. Your children are capable of learning how to sleep independently, and it makes a huge difference when they do.
As for teaching your little one to play piano, you’re on your own with that one!
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