Sleeping Through the Night, and Other Common Questions
As a certified sleep expert, one of the most common questions we see or are asked at Rocky Mountain Sleep Baby is “when will my baby start sleeping through the night?” If you are looking for this same answer and have been overwhelmed by the amount of google responses, you’ve come to the right place.
The short answer is, “almost never”. The better answer is that the vast majority of us from infancy to old age, rarely sleep through the night. The only exception to this rule is if you are sedated due to illness, or medication, you may not experience the sleep cycles that the rest of us go through each night where we are brought to the brink of being awake three to five times per night.
Sleep Cycles and How they Affect Us
In previous blogs, we have discussed how sleep cycles work. To recap, humans sleep in cycles that vary through the night from light to deep, from the time they fall asleep until they awaken for the day. If you are in a lighter sleep cycle, something as little as a noise, a flash of light, your partner snoring, or moving positions, etc. can be enough to disrupt you, and wake you up out of that light sleep cycle.
On the other hand, during a deep sleep cycle, those same disruptions may not interfere with your sleep in any way.
During the lighter phase, the interruptions are occurrences that we adapt to during our sleep cycles and while it “awakens” us, we do not fully wake up, or remember them happening, and can easily fall back into a deeper slumber. In addition, we may turn over, move our pillow, or pull up a blanket and we’ve grown so accustomed to it that it is just part of our routine and we do not need aid in falling back into our slumber.
Babies and toddlers may not easily fall back asleep, especially if they have been subjected to sleep associations (we talked about this in our earlier blog about sleep regression). Being held, rocked in a chair, breast or bottle fed, or other soothing techniques are all associations with sleep and can hinder our babies/toddlers’ abilities to fall back to sleep naturally, and rarely will they sleep through the night.
As certified sleep consultants, and parents, we know it is incredibly hard not to console your baby or toddler, and many of the sleep associations are bonding experiences for us, thus incredibly hard to separate ourselves from those special moments. However, for the sleep health and growth of our child, we need to break those habits. Love on them as much as you want when they are awake.
Teaching our Baby/Child to Sleep on their Own
When our child is developmentally ready, we can begin to teach them how to sleep through the night on their own, and without sleep association or aids. One of the biggest worries parents face is how to teach their child the difference between night and day. Often, right after birth, this fear is the most prevalent. Babies only know what they know, and if they are not taught to sleep without aids, or sleep association, they will have a harder time falling and staying, asleep.
While this is a very valid fear, please do not fret, you have come to the right place. As certified sleep consultants, we can work with you and your child, to develop positive and healthy sleep habits. We can work with you to build a pattern for them to fall asleep naturally, and to consistently ease back into sleep through the night effortlessly if they are awoken through the night by a slight disturbance as discussed above.
As we are born knowing how to breathe, sleep is not a skill that comes as easy. Anyone can fall asleep if they are tired enough. Knowing when nap and bedtime is, and how to sleep independently is a skill set that needs to be taught. You cannot leave your baby in their crib and leave them to learn it on their own. They are just not mentally capable of learning this.
You’ve come to the right place; all of the certified sleep experts at Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby are here to work with you to create healthy and productive sleep habits for your baby. Believe it or not, there is a science to it, and we have become experts in learning and thereby teaching, all things sleep-related to your little one.
Can I Teach My Baby to Sleep Through the Night, and Teaching Independent Sleep?
It is possible, though the methods that worked for your parents, or their parents, are outdated, and there are a lot newer tried and true approaches to help teach your little one. Crying it out is a very outdated technique that you may want to steer away from. It is similar to putting a book in the crib with your baby and expecting them to learn to read it.
While you do not want to offer a lot of comfort to your little one during the adjustment phase of learning to sleep on their own, without aids, it is important to show them a little compassion as long as it does not turn into a sleep association such as you are holding them, or rocking them, or feeding them, until they fall asleep each night.
A little comfort can go a long way, and as they are growing accustomed to their new schedule, it is imperative that you understand their frustration, work through it, and do not give in to a sleep prop. They will learn it in due time, and before you know it, they will be “sleeping through the night” without any additional sleep props or sleep association.
Remember, there is never a magic date of when your baby/child will begin sleeping independently, though it will happen. Never compare your child’s progress with that of another. No two babies are alike, and every single kid will differ, including siblings. You may have one child who adapts quickly with little effort, and another who will try your patience every opportunity they can.
Remember, it is always okay to ask for help. We encourage it. There is not a manual handed out the second you give birth that explains every situation, or every step of the way as you journey through parenthood. We learn by trial, error, and advice from those who can offer guidance. Every single parent has fears, and doubts, and even experienced parents question if what they are doing is the best for their child.
All of us at Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby are certified sleep consultants in addition to parents, and we are here to answer your questions, guide you along the way, and become your partner in creating a cohesive sleep schedule for your child. Please feel free to reach out to us at any time with questions or concerns and know you are not alone in this.
We are Sleep Consultants in Colorado, Kansas City, And Texas – but we work with families all over the world!