You might be wondering how to get your nursing baby to become a better sleeper and make it through the night without frequently waking up. A lot of the reasons why your baby may sleep or not sleep well has to do with your baby’s current stage and age they are in and whether they’ve accomplished the ability to self-soothe themselves.
It’s also essential to define what it means to sleep through the night. While the average person may define sleeping through the night as a full six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, babies need a lot more than that. Babies typically need between ten to twelve hours of sleep every day, which is usually broken up between daytime naps and nighttime sleep. If you’re having sleep issues with your baby, here are some of the best ways to get your nursing baby to sleep better through the night.
- Make it Easy to Nurse with Appropriate Sleepwear
You want to make sure that your sleepwear is comfortable, durable, and keeps you at an appropriate temperature during the night. You want to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep so you’re healthy and in the right frame of mind to take on the challenges of motherhood.
Besides comfort, you want to consider pajamas that make it simple to nurse in the middle of the night. Consider a moisture wicking snap front nightshirt or a moisture wicking shorty button front PJ set, where the buttons can be undone in a few quick seconds to comfort your nursing baby. The faster you can soothe your baby through the day or night, the faster they can go back to sleep.
- Set Up a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Just like adults, babies need a set nighttime routine to create relaxation, comfort and encourage them to prepare for sleep. You can set up any type of bedtime routine that is easy for you to do consistently. Don’t feel pressure to create an unrealistic routine that you won’t be able to keep up with. Instead, find a solution that works for both parent and baby.
Some great bedtime routines might include a warm water bath, followed by some comfortable or warm pajamas. Warm water is sleep-inducing and relaxing for babies. Keep it quiet and relaxing instead of encouraging playtime and loud energy. Follow a bath with any type of calming activity such as singing them a lullaby, reading a book, or even just cuddling on the couch. Try to feed your baby fully before rocking them to sleep, so they are less likely to wake up in the middle of the night hungry.
- Keep Baby Calm During Middle of the Night Changes or Feeding
If you can altogether avoid feeding or changing your baby in the middle of the night, do it. You want to try not to disrupt the natural sleeping patterns of your baby. However, sometimes you might find it necessary to feed your baby or change them if they are continually crying or smell terrible. If you must change or feed your baby, try to do this as quietly and calmly as possible. The goal is to not completely wake up your baby or stimulate them to encourage an easy path back to sleep.
- Don’t Rush to Soothe Your Baby Right Away
It might be hard to resist running into your baby’s room the first second that you hear them cry. However, it’s essential to allow your baby to have the chance to self-soothe themselves and get back to sleep. Babies are like adults and will wake up throughout the night, and not every time they wake up do they need to be fed, changed, or soothed.
If the crying continues for a minute or more, then feel free to check on your baby. However, before feeding them right away, try to see if you can soothe your baby with gentle cuddles or singing. If they understand that waking up won’t result in instantly being feed, they’ll learn how to sleep through the night or only cry when they’re actually hungry.
Problems that Prevent Solid Sleeping Patterns
If your baby is not sleeping through the night well, there may be other factors involved. For example, if your baby is teething, this is a very painful process that can result in a lack of sleep. Common teething symptoms such as waking up in the middle of the night, crying, or pulling of the ears may start appearing a few months before teeth even start showing.
Another reason your baby may not sleep through the night could have to do with your baby’s environment or bad sleeping patterns. If your baby feels too hot or too cold, they may have trouble sleeping through the night. The recommended temperature for your baby’s room should be between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Try keeping the room quiet and dark so that the baby is not distracted. Keep consistency around their bedtime patterns so that it encourages sleep through the night.
Other reasons you might not be able to get your nursing baby to sleep better could include growth spurts, sicknesses such as ear infections or colds. If your baby has just met certain milestones or obtained skills such as crawling, rolling over, or sitting up, your baby may be too distracted and avoid sleeping.
Encourage Your Baby to Sleep Better
It can seem challenging to get your baby to sleep throughout the night. However, by establishing solid routines, taking care of your own health and comfort, and looking for possible outlying reasons why sleep might not come so easy, can contribute to better sleep for your nursing baby.
Your baby not sleeping through the night is only temporary and will not last forever. Before you know it, your nursing baby will turn into a running toddler. Be patient with yourself and your baby as you navigate the tricky world of sleep with a nursing baby.