One of the questions we are asked the most is, when will my baby sleep through the night? And the correct answer is never! You might be thinking, what do you mean? Will I never get a full night’s sleep again?! Well, let me explain what I mean when I say never...
For the first 0-12 weeks of their lives, newborns average approximately 6-8 hours of sleep during the day, and 8 hours at night – normally in short stretches of 2-4 hours at a time. This is split between 50% deep sleep and 50% REM (dream) sleep and is fairly inconsistent. Between 0-6 weeks, babies can only manage between 45-60 minutes of awake time before needing to sleep again. This increases to 60-90 minutes between 6-12 weeks. Little ones, understandably, will wake up several times overnight to feed.
‘The four month sleep regression’
When little ones get to four months, they hit, what is often known as, ‘the four-month sleep regression’, which is when they develop sleep cycles. So, like us, they will cycle through deep sleep, REM sleep and light sleep. At bedtime, your baby will have a fairly long period of deep sleep. This usually lasts for 2-3 hours, after which they come to a partial waking before dropping into their REM, or dream, sleep cycles. It is in between these shorter REM cycles when your baby will partially wake every 30-60 minutes. We also do this as adults. So, we regularly wake through the night, but don’t remember these wakings, because everything is the same as when we went to sleep.
If you think about it from that perspective, if you’re helping your little one to sleep in some way, such as rocking or feeding them to sleep, if they come to the edge of their sleep cycles and they are no longer being rocked or fed, they will wake up. And they’ll let you know that they need help to get back to sleep again.
So it’s at this point, after the four month sleep regression, that some parents start to notice that if their baby has been assisted to sleep in any way, they will rely upon that whenever they come to the edge of sleep in between these cycles. However, for babies who have developed independent sleep skills, you may not even be aware of these mini-wakings during the night as they will not be reliant on you in order to get back to sleep.
If you think that your little one is relying on something – like rocking, feeding, bouncing, stroking, motion – to get to sleep, and you’re not quite sure how to move away from this, please get in contact. We’d love to help you to help you and your little one get longer, better, more quality sleep.
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