Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sleeping Through the Night

I struggle to remember what my first son was doing when... This blog helps a little but I didn't start it until he was around 9 months old. I know my first son did not sleep through the night (12 hours) until he was 7 Months Old. He went to bed early and I never woke him for a "dream feeding," mostly because I went to bed by 10 p.m., so he was always up for overnight feeds by 2 a.m.

It was barely a week ago that I was blogging about Lucas at 3 Months and he was still having trouble going to sleep in the evening and he was still getting up for overnight feedings. Then Lucas discovered his thumb... 

***The above picture is a little misleading...Lucas sleeps overnight in his crib. If I'm lucky he takes an extra nap in the morning in my bed (above). But I'm not willing to risk waking him by going into his room and snapping photos overnight!***

Read on for our recent changes...

With babies, change happens in the blink of an eye! I'd have to write three or more blog posts a week to capture behavior changes and I struggle to get out a few each month right now! (I'm hoping to fix that soon, it's a goal for the end of the year though rather than the end of the month as I try to set realistic goals for myself.)

Babies are developmentally able to sleep through the night (6-8 hours continuous sleep) at 3 months but may not until as late as 12 months. 

Lucas had been searching for his thumb for a while now, but he wasn't successful at finding it and keeping it in his mouth. The age a baby can do this (provided they want to) varies but average is around 3-4 months. Still, I was surprised when I saw Lucas stir on the monitor after a 30 minute nap, pop his thumb in his mouth, and then fall back asleep. And just like that, his catnap turned into a blissful longer nap which improved both his disposition and mine.

My first son also sucked his thumb and still does for nap and bedtime (he just turned 2). I'm a little concerned thumb sucking will be a difficult habit to break...but I think it is totally worth it for the exponential decrease in crying and increase in sleeping (for baby and for me!).

With babies good sleep leads to more good sleep which leads to even more good sleep.

That night, I put him to sleep in his crib at 7:30 per usual. I used the baby jiggle to get him down as he usually resists the pacifier in the evenings. He woke up at 8 p.m., cried for 2 minutes, popped his thumb in his mouth and went back to sleep. He woke for an overnight feeding at 3 a.m. and I found myself staring at the clock in bewilderment and wonder! He ate well and then slept until 7:30.

We repeated the same pattern the next night, but his overnight feeding was not until 4:30 a.m.

The following night, he did not wake or cry at all after his initial 30 minutes of sleep and he slept until 6 a.m.! 

I've also noticed an improvement with naps. I am still using the pacifier for Napping in the Crib. He will either fall asleep with the pacifier, take out the pacifier and replace it with his thumb, or simply spit out the pacifier, turn his head and fall asleep. 

Interestingly, he will no longer nap in the swing! I'm not sure if he can't get his thumb well or just has suddenly outgrown the behavior. Either way, swing time is now met by fussing if he is tired and ready for a nap. This is actually a good thing as the swing is in a common area of my house (doesn't fit in his room) and I had to try to keep my toddler from waking him.

Some important things to keep in mind about sleeping overnight...

Setbacks are common... It's easy to get really excited that first time you enjoy 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep since birth! But it may be a several day, week, or even month process before it is an every night occurrence. Because my first son did not cut out nighttime feedings until 7 months, I only had a few instances when he woke up in the middle of the night after he started sleeping overnight. When that happened, I sent in my husband to rock him back to sleep. Since Lucas is so much younger, I've already had a night where he woke up at midnight and at 4 a.m. and didn't put himself back to sleep so I went in and fed him.

Daytime feedings and sleep need to pair with nighttime feedings and sleep... Baby may nap less and eat more during the day. To maintain a regular schedule of sleeping overnight baby needs to get all their breastmilk/formula calories during the day. Don't be tempted to start food early, that's been proven to not increase sleep at night.

If you are exclusively breast-feeding, things will get full... Try not to pump because that just encourages your body to keep making milk at that time of day. After a few days, you will have less milk overnight as your supply regulates itself. If you must pump, just take off enough to get comfortable. (However, if you're trying to build up a large freezer supply, this may be a good opportunity to pump some extra bags.)

If you are using exclusive breast-feeding as your only birth control... Once you are not feeding every 2-3 hours around the clock the effectiveness of breast-feeding for birth control is greatly reduced. 

If your baby is underweight... You may need to wake him/her for nighttime feedings. If you are concerned about your baby's weight gain, discuss it with your pediatrician ASAP.

Remember, every baby is different!

Please share, when did your baby start sleeping overnight and any tips you would recommend!


  1. Yay, such a happy development! My little guy is 8 1/2 months old and still wake up once between 3-4 AM to eat. I think it's totally habit though so I'm gradually feeding him for a shorter amount of time each night for a week or two to get him used to waiting until the morning to eat. I probably should have done this sooner, but it felt so managable when he started only waking up once!

    1. My first son absolutely woke up out of habit to eat overnight, he was so chubby! Your little one sounds like he's doing good, but when you get that 8 hours uninterrupted sleep...just wait you will feel fabulous!