Sleep for new parents

New parents are perhaps the most sleep-deprived adults on the planet. After the disrupted sleep of late pregnancy, an exhilarating and exhausting labor and delivery, and a few days of being up all night feeding and comforting your newborn, it’s normal to be extremely tired.

I’m exhausted! When will my baby to sleep through the night?

The age at which babies sleep soundly all night varies greatly. Once your infant is at least 4 months old, your child may “sleep through the night,” meaning eight hours uninterrupted. If you’re still experiencing repeated sleepless nights after six months, you may consider letting your baby cry for longer periods of time. This is not an easy thing to do. If you choose this option, you need to be emotionally ready and consistent. And your entire family needs to be in agreement.

Baby needs to be in his own room, out of sight and smell and earshot of his parents. A popular method, the Ferber method, suggests that a parent re-enter the room and soothe baby. We do not completely agree with this method. Sending in a parent, or using a bottle to soothe crying only reinforces baby’s belief that crying will result in a loved-one coming to the rescue. We encourage you to give your baby lots of hugs at bedtime, put her down and then leave the room – and stay out!

If you decide to let baby cry, be prepared for hours of crying on and off for the first few nights. But typically, within a week, your baby will sleep 8 to 10 hours in a row. If you try our sleep technique and your baby still isn’t sleeping at least eight hours within a week, call our office.

Some parents are not able to tolerate nighttime crying. In that case, we believe you should embrace an “attachment parenting” approach to sleep and go the opposite direction. Bring baby into your realm, feed on demand, and expect more frequent, but shorter awakenings. Over months, your baby is likely to sleep longer stretches between feedings.

Tips to help you rest:

  • Sleep when your baby sleeps. Even if it’s multiple short naps during the day, every minute of rest helps.
  • Pace yourself. Don’t get busy with anything other than feeding and caring for your infant.
  • Share nighttime duties. If there are multiple adults in the house, take turns getting up at night, if possible.
  • Let others help with daily tasks. Cooking, cleaning and errands are wonderful when done by supportive helpers.
  • Keep visits short. Long visits will exhaust you and your baby.
  • Eat regularly and stay hydrated. Many new parents forget to take care of their own basic needs, so don’t let it happen to you.
  • Get into a routine. This will help you define the beginning of one day and the end of another. Otherwise, many parents feel like they are living a string of never-ending, 24-hour days. Start your morning with a little ritual: stretch, take a shower, change clothes, etc. Having a routine will help you preserve a daily rhythm.


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As a pediatrician, one of the most frequently asked questions I hear is, “How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?” Let me give you my best advice by first sharing my own experiences as a mother.