There are books about getting your baby to sleep through the night, you can take classes or hire someone to come into your home and "train" your baby to sleep through the night. I have some opinions on the idea of getting your baby to sleep through the night.
There is the thought that once baby reaches a certain weight (12-13 lbs is considered the standard), baby should sleep through the night. Not all babies know this. Sleep is more of a neurological and development issue than a weight issue. Not every baby has made the developmental advances at 13 lbs they need to sleep through the night.
There is also the idea that once baby reaches a certain age they should sleep through the night. Depending on what source you are referencing, this can be 3 months old, 4 months old, 6 months old etc. Again, not all babies know this. Just as babies grow at different rates, babies make the developmental advances to sleep through the night at different ages, so a "one size fits all" approach should not be applied to when baby should sleep through the night.
If you want to try sleep training, there are some milestones and markers that I feel need to be present before beginning.
- Your baby should be gaining weight without any issues.
- Your baby is at least 4 months old
- Your baby has transitioned to or has their own sleep space
- Your baby has shown the ability to self-soothe
- You and baby have a bedtime routine in place
- You and your family are ready to navigate sleep training
One way to "sleep train" your baby is to let them cry it out. This involves putting baby to bed and then ignoring thier crying for however long they take to exhaust themselves and fall asleep. It could be 10 minutes, or hours. I am not a fan of this method for many reasons, especially how stressful it is on baby and parents.
Other sleep training methods include shortening the amount of time you rock baby before laying them down, setting your chair farther and farther away from the crib each bedtime, or having intervals before coming back in to soothe baby. If you do decide to use one of these methods, make sure you understand it and are comfortable with it. Remember, it is training so it may take some time before baby figures out the goal is to sleep through the night on a consistent basis.
Some families solve the sleep dilemma by co-sleeping, whether that means baby shares the bedroom with parents, or baby shares the bed with parents. I feel bed sharing is an acceptable option, and yes I know many organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics disagree, although they do recommend that baby sleeps in the same room as the parents for at least the first 6 months of life. I do have criteria (using Unicef guidelines) that I feel make bed sharing a reasonable option. Those criteria are:
- a non-smoking household
- no illicit drug use
- no alcohol use
- not using prescription drugs that have drowsiness as a side effect
- the mattress used should be firm
- baby should not be near pillows, or have their face covered with blankets
There is no "perfect" way to get baby to sleep through the night, and there is no "one size fits all" solution. What works best for you and your family is the best solution, even if it is different than what other families choose to do. What is important is that you and baby get good sleep, and that you are comfortable with whatever decisions you make regarding how to get baby to sleep longer, and eventually through the night.