It seems like everyone’s baby is sleeping through the night…except yours. So what gives?
1. One word: newborns. It’s important for newborns to feed frequently, so sleeping longer than one 4-5 hour stretch actually isn’t safe for young babies and can result in dehydration, lethargy, and poor growth. Waking frequently in the newborn period is also associated with a lower risk of SIDS.
2. The dreaded 4 month sleep regression. What is called a “regression” is actually a totally normal developmental event: your baby is working on some big things, including transition to spending more time in REM sleep (the light state of sleep in which we dream), changing daytime nap patterns, and physical and neurological growth.
3. Defining “sleeping through the night.” Really, it depends on your baby’s age. Most babies will continue to wake through the night for a feeding until 6-12 months of age (or even longer). So while it may seem like everyone’s baby is sleeping 8-10 hour stretches at just a few months of age, the reality is that few babies actually do. Sleep stretches at night are highly individual.
4. Temperament. Yes–no one wants to hear it but some babies will just be more difficult sleepers than others. High needs babies are often challenging in other aspects as well.
5. Teething. Self explanatory! Cutting teeth is painful and often results in interrupted sleep. Usually canines and molars tend to be the worst.
6. Big changes in routine. Maybe you moved, went on vacation, got a new job that changed your work hours–either way, babies sense these changes and sleep can be disrupted. Rest assured, usually these disturbances are temporary and only last a few days or weeks.
7. Mobility. When babies first become mobile, either crawling or walking, around roughly 8-12 months of age, they often experience another sleep “regression” much like the one at four months of age.
8. Transitioning from the swaddle. Many babies love being swaddled as young infants. However, for safety reasons it is important to transition from the swaddle around the time babies start to roll over (approximately 4 months). At this point, try a sleep sack or the Magic Sleep Suit.