Alaska Sleep Education Center

How to Help a Breastfeeding Baby Sleep Longer

Posted by Theresa Cofield on Apr 27, 2021 2:32:00 AM

Sleepy baby

It sounds common for parents when their babies don’t sleep well enough. We have prepared a few useful tips

The sleep needs of children depend on their age. Newborns sleep most of the time with short segments of sleep. As a baby grows, the total amount of sleep decreases while the length of night sleep increases. As Stanford Children’s Health reports, most babies don't start sleeping through the night (6 to 8 hours) without waking until they are about 3 months old, or until they weigh 12 to 13 pounds.

Every baby is individual. When to expect a baby to sleep through the night depends on several factors including a baby’s age, weight, whether you’re breastfeeding or not, and your family’s night feeding habits. If your baby keeps waking up through the night while your friend’s infant lets her sleep healthy for 8 hours, this is not a reason for anxiety.

What Makes a Baby Stay Awake at Night?

Here are a few factors that may prevent your kid from sleeping during the night.

Teething

A baby’s first tooth is a touching moment that is followed by unpleasant symptoms like earn pulling, crying, and night wakings. First symptoms may crop up even two months before a tooth appears.

Growth Spurts

A growth spurt is the period of time when your child overcomes a more intense period of growth. Healthline reports the most common periods of growth spurts to happen 1 to 3 weeks of age, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months. During this time, a baby needs more care. They will wake up much more often during the night and require more frequent feeding.

Co-Sleeping

Mothers love to sleep near their infants. To ease breastfeeding at night or to monitor a child’s breath. Nevertheless, having a baby sleep in a parents’ bed may hinder your kid to sleep through the night. What is more, it puts a baby at an increased SIDS risk (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

An Inability to Self-Soothe

Don’t rush to feed and soothe an infant at a first whim. Just like the adults, a kid can wake up between different sleep phases. It’s normal for a baby to wake up several times at night but they should be able to self-soothe and fall asleep again on their own.

Sleep Regression

Even if your baby is a good sleeper, at the age of about 4 months, they may experience a sleep regression. What is happening? During 2 or 3 weeks, a child will wake up more frequently. During this period, your infant will acquire new skills like absorbing language, recognizing faces. Any milestone may contribute to sleep regression.

Separation Anxiety

A child is naturally anxious about being separated from their parents. If a baby cries after being put to bed, parental cuddling and feeding during the nighttime may cause an infant to seek parental attention. Replace close physical contact with slight touches to a child and soothing reassuring talks.

Ways to Get a Breastfed Baby to Sleep Through the Night

Set a Bedtime Routine

Not only a certain sequence of actions is comforting but also it’s a way to let your baby know it’s bedtime coming. Start with a nice warm bath, warm water is self-inducing. Follow with cuddles and lullabies, continue with feeding and put your baby to bed. If your baby is gassy, start feeding a baby earlier in the routine.

Try Not to Change Your Baby's Diaper in the Middle of the Night

Unless your baby is an absolute mess, skip in-the-night changing. Your actions will most likely wake a kid up. If you feel a really strong need to change a diaper in the middle of the night, try to do that as quietly as possible with faded lights and no talking.

Check on Your Family’s Sleeping Environment Habits

Keep the room warm, dark, and quiet if you want a baby to fall asleep faster and sleep longer. Make a sleeping environment fully isolated from noise, overlook your sleeping habits especially if you practice co-sleeping. Even the slightest detail may irritate an infant’s nap.

Shorten Nighttime Feedings

Breastfeeding babies, especially newborns have a tendency to snack. Like adults, they can also eat for pleasure, not only when they feel the urge to. Make sure your baby gets enough calories during the daytime and try not to feed them unless you know a kid is truly hungry. If you’re worried if your infant’s tummy gets full after feeding, talk to a lactation consultant, your family’s nurse, or doctor. A baby may ask for milk as often as every 1 to 3 hours.

Consider Moving Baby Farther Away From You

The AAP recommends that babies share a room with their parents until they’re 6 months old. Nevertheless, if the kid’s crib is too close to your bed, consider moving it farther or what is better, to a child’s own room. It may be that proximity contributes to more frequent night wake-ups. Discuss transition with your pediatrician to get a piece of advice with a professional close to your family.

Start The Process Of Weaning Baby Off Nighttime Feeds

When your child reaches 3 or 4 months, you can slowly start cutting down nighttime feeding with a final aim to make a baby nap throughout the night. Don’t forget to consult your pediatrician before this step as some kids may require longer night feeding periods than others.

Don't Respond at Baby’s First Stir

Give your child time to calm down on their own, don’t run to comfort them at the first whimper. As we have already said, it’s normal for people of all life stages to wake up in the middle of the night. You don’t need to get distracted from napping, watching a movie, or online dating (single parents only) at a kid’s first demand.

Conclusion

Lack of sleep is common for all parents. Each newborn is unique and so you will probably need to try out different strategies before meeting the main goal-make a baby sleep at night as long as possible. We believe that you can treasure every single moment of parenthood without the feeling of being exhausted!

Regulating a baby's nighttime sleep routine or pattern is no joke. Hence it is absolutely essential that parents together take an active part to play their important roles, and all must not be left for the mom to consolidate.

Share weekly routines where the two of you can rock the baby to sleep and exchange turns to get up at might night when the baby wakes up. Relying too much on nighttime feeds is also not healthy as this will make your baby wake more often just to have that extra snack. Always remember that healthy sleeping habits will make your baby super happy!  

Alaska Sleep Clinic has the most experience in the state with pediatric sleep disorders.  Our Pediatric Medical Director Dr. Harry Yuan is just one reason why you can trust your entire family's sleep health to ASC.  Call us today to learn more.

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Topics: Pediatrics, baby, breastfeeding

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