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How can I get my newborn to sleep through the night?

How can I get my newborn to sleep through the night?
Submitted by Parents Team

At first, you can't, so don't bother trying. A newborn wakes up frequently to eat, sometimes as often as every two to three hours. If she's sleeping too much, she's not eating enough. Over time, your baby will be able to go longer stretches without food. Meanwhile, you can help her learn to fall asleep on her own by laying her down when she's sleepy but still awake. Try to avoid nursing her to sleep after the first month or two so she doesn't get into the habit of needing milk to drift off. By 4 to 6 months, babies are usually able to sleep for longer stretches, with just one or two nighttime feedings. It usually isn't until somewhere between 9 and 12 months that most babies truly sleep through the night. --Sharlene K. Johnson

Originally published in Parents magazine, May 2007. Updated 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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It depends on what you mean - babies <4 months old generally sleep in 3-4 hour cycles. My pediatrician said to wake them up if it's 5. They seemed to take more consistent naps once I figured out what a newborn should sleep in. If you can get a newborn to sleep 4-5 hours without waking, I'd call that a win.
Submitted by dkoboldt
If you think you need some support with breastfeeding and info on making night-time go more smoothly for you, consult with someone knowledgeable and helpful. One source would be the La Leche League. http://www.lllc.ca or http://www.lllusa.org
Submitted by TheParentCoach
Breastfeeding Tip: The milk that baby gets a feeding begins quenches baby's thirst. The hindmilk comes after the milk ejection reflex occurs during the foremilk phase and contains higher levels of fat. Hindmilk is essential for baby's weight gain, brain development, and stooling. If you're switching breasts too soon, your baby may not be getting enough hindmilk, and could be waking up a short time later for more.
Submitted by TheParentCoach