Babies and Sleep

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There's no easy way around sleep deprivation in your baby's first year - but babies and sleep can eventually become a science.

Babies aren’t born knowing the difference between night and day, but you didn’t realize it would take THIS LONG for your baby to sleep through the night, did you? The good news is, it won’t last forever. Babies and sleep eventually happen. By 8 months old, experts say, most babies will be experiencing nightly sleep-thrus much to their happy parent’s relief.

But! Even babies who start to sleep through the night can begin waking up and having troubles going back to sleep in the middle of the night. Know how to meet your baby’s sleep challenges head on:


Reasons for Night Waking in Older Babies

  • He’s used to being held in order to sleep: During the day, try to cut back on holding him to get to sleep. Build on this so he’s able to put himself to sleep.
  • He’s gone to bed too late or experienced a lack of sleep during the day: Often his sleep rhythms during the day impact his nighttime rhythms.
  • Depending on Baby’s age, if he still needs a nap but naps are inconsistent and/or not long enough, making bedtime earlier will promote healthier sleeping during the day and stop unnecessary night waking.

Tips for Better Baby Sleep

  • Caffeine: If you are nursing, limit caffeine from coffee, tea and sodas. Caffeine is not only great at keeping us awake, it passes into breastmilk and does the same for babies.
  • A dark room: Put your baby to sleep in his crib in a relatively dark room (night lights are OK). It’s important, too, that the baby is familiar with his environment.
  • Establish a bedtime ritual: Children who have the same bedtime ritual each night actually begin to feel sleepy during the last, brief bedtime story or lullaby.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says to always put babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrom (SIDS).

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.

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