There are few questions parents of babies want answered as much as – “When will my baby sleep through the night?” When my son was about six months old a man at the mall approached me with desperation in his eyes and asked- “Does he sleep through the night?” I could tell he was sleep deprived and desperate for news I couldn’t give him. I wouldn’t be doing him any favors by lying so I told him the truth – “No, but he’s only six months and my oldest child didn’t sleep through the night till she was eight months.” His face collapsed and I could see he was mentally adding up all the sleepless nights until his five week old daughter would sleep well. I told him he’d get through it, but I’ll never forget the defeated look on his face.
So fast forward five years, and my little Sydney just turned six months old. Here I sit, asking myself the same question – When will she FINALLY sleep through the night? All I can base my guess on is my other two kids who slept through the night at eight and seven months respectively. It’s so close I can practically feel it, but it seems so far away at the same time. So here’s what I’ve learned with my sleep trials. I’m no expert – just a mom, probably as desperate as you are for sleep.
1. Follow Their Lead – There is no making your child sleep through the night. They are ready when they’re ready. If your child slept through the night at six weeks, I’d keep that tidbit under your hat while talking to moms chugging their coffee, looking like Mombies. Nobody suffering with sleep deprivation wants to hear how lucky you were. Congrats, but seriously don’t mention it to anyone with children. Most of us have to wait till sometime after our babies are steadily eating solids and crawling.
2. Do What Works Until It Doesn’t – Parenthood is the greatest game of trial and error there is. I found that co-sleeping gives me the most sleep for the first four or five months. Co-sleeping is awesome while you’re breastfeeding, until they realize that they can eat at all hours whether they need to or not. So whatever your sleep situation try not to cling too long to a method that’s no longer working. Sydney went from eating twice a night to wanting to comfort eat all night long. I know the day is dawning where I need to test to see if she’s ready to sleep without me.
3. Don’t Make Changes While They’re Sick – This one is self-explanatory. If your baby is not feeling good, they need extra attention and this not the right time for sleep training.
4. Once The Day Dawns, The Real Work Begins – The day will come when you wake up feeling like a well-rested person and after it dawns on you that the baby slept through the night you’ll want to do your happy dance. But unfortunately sleeping through the night is like potty training. It’s a long process of figuring out what works. Sleeping through the night once is a good indicator that they are ready to start, but how you go about sleep training is up to you. I say skip the books and go with your gut. I spent about a week putting my babies down in their cribs alone listening to them cry until I went in and I tried to wait an extra five minutes each night until they finally fell asleep without me coming in to soothe them. It’s a truly sucky period of time, but eventually they learned to sleep through the night without me.
So good luck to you and me. I know from experience we CAN survive this period of babyhood. The hardest part is trying not to wish away the age they are right now pining away for the magical age of sleep. As the saying goes – “the days are long, but the years are short.”