They don’t. At least, for the first few months of their life. Sorry to break this to you. But, let me tell you why they don’t and help you to understand the importance of your baby not sleeping through the night. This is my journey of sleep training my six months old baby up until 14 months old when my son is finally sleeping through the night.
Why is my baby not sleeping through the night?
It’s pretty simple. Because they have biological needs. Either they are hungry, wet diapers, uncomfortable or in pain. Or maybe they missed you and wanted your companion. Then again, they do not know how to put themselves back into sleep. Babies have a very different sleep cycle compared to adults.
It’s important that our baby learns to wake up and cry for us when they need some assistance. Perhaps they are just unwell, check out these five common problems in babies that you should know.
So when do babies start sleeping through the night?
Honestly, nobody knows. I constantly ask the same question, when is my baby finally going to sleep through the night? My baby was waking up about 5 -6 times every night. When he is teething or having growth spurts, he wakes up on an hourly basis. So, I feel you.
I read about it, I Google-ed about it, I asked parents around me about it. Yet, every answer differs. So it brings me to this conclusion. Every baby is different. Every baby is special in their own way.
So I learnt to embrace it instead. As I embraced the fact that my baby did not sleep through the night because of his biological needs, things got better. And eventually, thank goodness as my baby turned 14 months, he started to sleep through the night.
Sleep training method that I have tried and it doesn’t work
Cry it out
The main objective of the cry it out method is to get your baby to get used to falling asleep on his own. When my baby turned six months old, my husband insisted on trying the cry it out method, but the gentler version of it. Instead of letting your baby weep until they get exhausted and fall asleep, the Ferber method is gentler and uses a gradual approach.
We would put our drowsy son back to the crib and stay with him for a little while before leaving the room. He would then start to cry. Every time my husband goes in to comfort him, my husband will wait a little longer the next time. It goes from a minute, to a minute thirty seconds and so on.
This method requires consistency and a lot of persistence. Usually, if practiced correctly the Ferber method / plain cry it out method should work in a week or two. However, it did not work for us. Sure, by the end of the week eventually my baby was completely exhausted and has a hoarse voice from all the crying. But once he was teething, all our efforts and tears went down the drain. It was back to square one.
After the failure of the Ferber method, he has even more frequent night awakenings. I assumed this was due to the fear that he developed as we left him all alone in a dark room. Cry it out sleep training made him even more nervous and agitated than before. It took us a while to regain his trust and confidence to lessen the night awakenings.
A gradual process of encouraging STTN between 6 months to fourteen months old
Building his trust and confident
He was teething, developing separation anxiety and having major growth spurts so we didn’t continue to try other sleep training method. Either me or my husband would stay with him all the time to read him bedtime stories and nursery songs to put him to sleep. We would be there for him whenever he needs us until he falls asleep.
Our goal was for our baby to have full reassurance that we have got his back whenever he needs us. This works. Eventually, he became very confident in us that he got over his separation anxiety and would patiently await for us to come accompany him. He don’t even cry anymore at this point.
Prepare the right environment
It’s important to put the baby to sleep in the right environment. As we live in Hong Kong, even at night the city is still bustling. The apartment buildings are also densely located in adjacent to each other. It doesn’t help when our apartment in Hong Kong does not have a standard window and getting a tailored made black out curtain will be undoubtedly expensive.
Hence, it was not an easy task to create a dark room for our baby. But, I finally found the perfect solution to our problem, the Gro Anywhere Blind blackout curtains. I noticed that as we started to use these Groblinds blackout curtains to create a pitch dark environment for him, he sleeps better.
Thankfully the Groblind curtains are affordable, customizable (we can easily adjust the size as necessary by using the Velcro). It sticks on the glass window using the suction cup very well. Did I mention that we can bring these Groblind blackout curtains for travelling too? I highly recommend this Gro Anywhere Blind portable blackout curtain if you are looking for easy solutions to create a dark room for your child.
Disclosure: This product review is based on my own opinion after using it and I’m not paid for it. This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links with no additional costs to you. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Establishing a bedtime routine
Having a routine helps us to stay organized and makes things more efficient. We had dinner about the same time every day. Then he would take his bath, get changed into his sleepsuit, listen to bedtime story and then one last feeding before bedtime. Eventually, our baby became more cooperative as he knows what to expect and what’s coming next. It’s always good to have a set routine.
Another thing that we implement in our bedtime routine after the Ferber method is to include a lot of cuddle time with our baby. He would cuddle with my husband and then with me, before drifting off to dreamland. I think that the oxytocin must’ve helped my baby to sleep better at night too.
Cut down on nap time
At 14 months old, he’s still having one nap time daily in the afternoon. Usually, after lunch time. The key here is to find the right balance. I find that if he takes a long nap, his night sleep quality on that particular day will be not as good. However if he takes a very short nap, he’d be too tired and then turned cranky during dinner time.
Based on my observation for the past months, I find that 1.5 hours of nap time is ideal. It keeps him energetic enough up till dinner time and yet allows him to sleep through the night.
Start the day early for outdoor play time
This is the ultimate game changer for us. Ever since we introduced a daily outdoor play time for about an hour a day, he sleeps better at night. Perhaps it’s the sunshine or the fresh air, or plain exhaustion from all the running.
We also changed our routine to start the day earlier than before. Before, we would wake up around 9:00 a.m. then start our day. Now, we changed our wake up time earlier and we would get to the park by 9:00 a.m. It’s an added bonus to have my baby running around in the morning soaking the morning sun for some Vitamin D.
At the park, he loves greeting everyone he sees along the way. He would wave and smile at peoples passing by. If the other party responds, he would wave even more enthusiastically and flash an even brighter smile. All these social interactions must’ve helped to trigger endorphins that helped him sleep better at night.
At 14 months old, my baby is finally sleeping through the night!
Finally, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was a long journey, but we learnt a lot along the way. I learnt that sleep training my baby cannot be forced nor rushed. It is a slow and gradual process of helping my baby to sleep through the night.
It’s not going to be easy and it certainly does not happen overnight
There are always ways we can use to help our baby to sleep through the night. But before that, you need to understand and be mentally prepared for failures. Maybe it won’t work the first time you want to sleep train your baby. But, don’t give up and keep going.
Along this journey, I have had few arguments with my husband regarding the method we want to use to sleep train our baby. It’s important to discuss which method you want to use to sleep train with your partner. Once you have both agreed in one method, stick to it and be consistent. Otherwise, it would result in a failed sleep training like in our Ferber method experience.
Back then, I was so sleep deprived and fatigued. At times, I hated myself for being upset at my baby for crying at an ungodly hour. It takes a lot of time, effort and persistence. It’s going to involve a lot of tears, not just my baby’s. But, one thing you should always remember is to stop comparing your baby with others. I can’t stress it enough, every baby is different.
Perhaps your friend’s baby learnt to sleep through the night at six months old, well good for her. She got an easy sleeper. But perhaps she is struggling in another aspect. Maybe her baby is a picky eater, but your baby eats well. Stay strong, learn to not compare, and learn to accept. Good luck!
Featured image photo credit to Burst at Pexels (2017)