How To Teach Your Child To Sleep Through The Night?

The idea of ​​getting a baby to sleep through the night is more of a saying, because in practice, it is not. It is normal for a baby to wake up several times during the night. And although it may not seem like it, adults do too.

An adult does not sleep “through the night” unlike what is often thought. The sleep cycle of a normal adult includes several awakenings in a night, after which they fall asleep again.

A baby can spend 17 hours a day sleeping, with various awakenings included. So there is not much to teach them about sleeping well, but on the contrary, they know how to do it wonderfully.

What should we know about children’s sleep?

Sleep is a natural process in every human being. In the newborn brain, sleep cycles last 3 to 4 hours. And so this study published in the Bulletin of the Pediatric Society of Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y León points out . The point is that, once awake, the little one does not find a way to fall asleep again and cries.

In the 9 months that he was inside his mother’s womb, he spent a good part of his time asleep, alternating sleep with feeding through the umbilical cord. When he woke up, he heard his mother’s heart and voice. Then he would go back to sleep. When it is born, then, it can be said that it literally awakens.

The newborn wakes up, cries and after eating goes back to sleep. Thus, a newborn baby usually spends the day. If the baby is breastfed, after approximately 20 minutes, he will have digested the milk. If you drink formula, it will take a couple of hours to digest it. Afterwards, he will wake up and, again, he will look for his mother to start the cycle again.

My baby was sleeping, but not anymore …

In the first two months of a baby’s life, sleep tends to be quiet; but after the third or fourth month, it becomes lighter. This is when the little one wakes up more times. Many mothers are reproached for this, alluding that they have not taught their babies well when, really,  this sleep pattern is normal in all babies who are maturing their sleep cycles.

mother holding her crying baby

At 6 and 8 months, the baby’s sleep reaches all phases of sleep (the 4 phases of slow sleep and the phase of fast sleep). However, in some children, it still does not have the duration or periodicity of adults, as this article published in Primary Care Pediatrics shows .

At 3 years of age, the child’s sleep is like that of the adult, but it is not until the age of 5 or 6 that the child has overcome all the difficulties to sleep through the night.

What to do to get him to sleep through the night?

It is normal for parents to wonder if they are doing well, if something “abnormal” is happening to the baby because he does not fall asleep and cries … However, an atmosphere full of worry, anxiety and tension is the worst scenario to sleep all the night.

There are methods such as Estivill and Ferber that recommend leaving the child crying until he calms down. Indeed, after crying so much, at some point, he will fall asleep due to the fatigue of waiting for someone to attend to him. Assess whether that is the option for you and your child.

For Dr. Rosa Jove, author of the famous book Sleeping without tears , leaving a baby crying generates an emotional shock. The hormones that regulate emotions are altered and the baby is taught that there is no point in complaining because his mother will not heed his call.

The pediatrician Carlos González, known for books like Bésame Mucho. How to Raise Your Children with Love explains that  when the baby wakes up and cries for his mother, he expects her to heed his call. If mom goes, the baby learns to have answers to her requests.

However, parents are asked to limit contact with their children and not go out of their way to comfort them, as this “spoils” them. When it is completely normal for children to wake up during the night and want to be comforted to fall asleep again.

Baby sleeping with his stuffed animals and pacifier.

How to help your child?

After many nights with many awakenings, you are tired and want something to help you and your little one sleep through the night. We know that appealing to calm is not easy, but if you agree with respectful parenting, you know that the option is not to let the baby cry.

The basic recommendation is to  be patient until your child matures and regulates his cycles. Even if you are told that a certain method worked for that baby, it does not necessarily have to be the same with your child. In the daily dynamics that you have with your baby you will discover what works for you.

However, establishing some routines may help provide the calm your child needs before bed.

  • Give him a lukewarm bath before going to sleep.
  • Avoid toys or luminous mobiles in the crib or bed, as they arouse their attention.
  • If you are over 2 years old and you already watch television or play with the tablet , do not use it for more than one hour a day.
  • When a child is very tired, it is more difficult for him to fall asleep, which is why a nap is a valuable resource.
  • If you don’t like the dark or it’s one of your fears, leave a dim light on.
  • Avoid getting upset and berating or punishing him with going to sleep. Associating sleeping with punishment is a very unfortunate idea.
  • Establish a bedtime ritual. It can be singing the same lullaby, reading a story, talking for a while …

On how to sleep through the night …

Baby sleeping peacefully.

The parenting style and methods that each mother decides for her child are her choice. However, we insist that it is important to  respect the cycles and particularities of each child. Likewise, you need to understand that formula that works with one baby will not necessarily help another.

Your baby will not be a baby forever. The tired nights that he gives his parents today are part of his maturation and growth. Be patient, very soon it will stop being a baby, and what seems like a problem today will be left behind tomorrow. There will be time to sleep more.

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