Posted , updated Oct 20, 2010.
Parents of new babies often ask, "Will my baby ever sleep through the night?" It is normal for babies to wake up during the night. Some babies go back to sleep on their own, but others cry, and their parents wake up.
Most babies learn to sleep all night during the first year. They have to grow big enough to go longer and longer without being fed; a 6-month-old baby may sleep six hours at night before needing to eat. And many babies go back to sleep easily after their nighttime feedings.
Some babies take longer to learn to sleep through the night. Even at two years old, one child out of every five wakes up and cries most nights. The baby's personality may be a factor. Some babies are restless, and they wake easily. Others sleep soundly and for a long time. Others need less sleep, and they wake up very early in the morning.
Waking at night is not considered a problem for families in every part of the world. In some cultures parents don't expect babies to go to sleep alone, or at a certain time or place. But for many parents in our society, it is hard when babies wake up at night. Parents don't get enough sleep, and they aren't free to nap when baby does during the day.
Here are some ideas for helping your baby learn to sleep at night. Remember, babies are all different. It will take some babies longer than others to sleep through the night.
Very young children need the comfort of knowing that parents will always help them, day or night.
Going to your baby when he cries is important. It will help him learn to trust you. The secret is to check on baby in a way that helps him go back to sleep. Here are some ideas to try with your baby:.
If you try these ideas but they don't seem to work, talk to your doctor.
There may be a medical reason why your baby wakes up. Talk openly with your doctor, and mention anything you are concerned about. Sometimes a doctor may give you medicine to help baby sleep so that you can get the sleep you need. But you should understand that baby may wake up again when you stop giving the medicine. If you and your doctor do decide to give baby medicine, be sure to follow the directions carefully. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions.
Talking with other parents about your problem can also help. They may have ideas that you haven't tried yet.
Also, check your local library or bookstore for books on babies waking up at night. Here's one you might ask for:
Sleeping Through the Night (revised edition): How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep by Jodi A. Mindel (Harper Paperbacks, 2005).
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weisbluth (Ballantine Books, 1999).
The Sleep Book for Tired Parents by R. Huntley (Parenting Press, 1991).
Also visit these websites for information:
National Sleep Foundations (www.sleepfoundation.org)
Don't Give Up
Most babies wake up at night for a while.
They are learning how to go to sleep on their own. But you need your rest, too.
If you find you are becoming very upset with baby for waking up at night, make sure she is safe in her bed. Then go into another room and calm down. Talk to someone. Ask a friend or family member to help for a while so you can get some sleep.
Remember that your baby isn't waking up on purpose to upset you. Your family must decide what will work best for you so everyone gets the rest and privacy they need.
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