How can I help my baby sleep through the night?
At what age does a baby start sleeping through the night?
Our main advice is to be realistic about your expectations. From the age of 3-4 months, some babies sleep for 5 hours at a time. That’s a very good average! Before 8 months, it’s rare for a baby to sleep a full 12 hours. We’ll explain the different stages of a child’s sleep in more detail below.
Infant sleep phases
In your womb, your baby was warm. All his needs were met automatically. When he’s born, your baby discovers a new world. He discovers cold, hunger, pain, fatigue… As a result, he wakes up several times a night, notably to eat. Hunger is not the only reason for waking up at night. Baby doesn’t yet know the difference between day and night: this is called the circadian rhythm.
Newborns need many hours of sleep, between 16 and 20 hours a day. From 0 to 2 months, babies need between 16 and 20 hours of sleep per 24-hour day, divided between day and night. Their sleep cycle lasts from 50 minutes to an hour, with a longer restless phase and a shorter calm phase. During the restless sleep phases, you’d think baby had finished sleeping. He fidgets, grunts, moves… but he’s still asleep. A word of advice: don’t rush to your child if you think he’s awake. First, check to see if he’s still dozing. In short, avoid waking a sleeping baby (even if you miss him too much).
Some babies go through a series of cycles, while others find it more difficult. When it comes to falling asleep, it’s the same story. Your baby wants you to hold him or her… and that’s normal. Ideally, you alternate falling asleep in your baby’s arms (if he needs it) during naps, then sleeping in his own bed in a suitable environment. This system is particularly beneficial for learning to distinguish between day and night.
Doubtful? The good news is that when a baby is very small, we don’t give him bad habits. As Maëlys Le Levreur would say, we respond to their needs. From the age of 4-6 months, it’s advisable to let your child learn to go back to sleep on his own (easier said than done, we know!).
Now it’s time for some advice, and if you’re having real difficulties, think of a sleep consultant.
Baby’s sleep from 3 months
Generally speaking, your baby starts to sleep through the night at 3-4 months. This means 5 to 6 hours of sleep in a row. This is a warning to parents who worry about their child. This figure is an average, not a norm.
Signs to look out for when putting your baby to bed
To help babies sleep well, observe your baby. Learn to spot these unmistakable signs of tiredness:
- Baby yawns,
- He rubs his eyes,
- He looks lost or confused,
- Baby sucks his thumb or fingers, touches his face,
- Baby cries, is calm or grumpy…
As soon as you see any of these signs, suggest that your child goes to sleep within 15 minutes. Don’t wait until he’s already asleep before putting him to bed.
The importance of the evening ritual for babies
In the evening, we establish a ritual that is practically always the same. There’s no need to try out different techniques every night, as baby needs consistency… This little sequence will be a sign that it’s time to relax. This reassuring routine should be introduced from 6 to 8 weeks. Your baby will gradually learn to recognize night-time cues, thanks to the environment you’ll be creating.
When it’s time to head off to dreamland :
- Always put your child to bed at the same time, between 6.30pm and 8pm.
- Put your child to bed in the same place, his or her room or the one you share.
- Reduce noise in the house.
- Turn down the lights in his room: draw the curtains or shutters if it’s still light out, to put baby in the mood.
- Turn on a nightlight.
- Put baby in his sleeping bag.
- Sing him a lullaby or read him a short story.
- After a cuddle, place your baby in his cot.
- Move away gradually, without making the floor creak…
- Close the door gently… and pray to the god of sleep!
Other tips for a good night’s sleep
Night-time sleep is also prepared during the day with naps:
- Respect baby’s need for daytime naps. Ideally, your baby should sleep at least once a day in his crib or bassinet.
- Don’t skip naps or postpone bedtime. Your baby won’t shift because you put him to bed later. He’ll just get even grumpier… and so will you!
We wish you all the best for a full and restful night!
The Charlie Crane team
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