It’s a lovely morning. You got out of the house to run errands with everyone fed, clean, and in one piece. At this point, you are feeling pretty good about this parenting thing – then BAM, you run into an acquaintance and she asks that QUESTION! The question that everyone seems to ask when you have an infant – “Is she sleeping through the night yet?”. If your baby has achieved this wonderful milestone you can proudly share the accomplishment, but what if she hasn’t? As a Certified Child Sleep Consultant this question stung even more! Aren’t my kids supposed to be these fabled sleepers…who ‘poof ‘ sleep thru the night starting at 4 months? Uhm, maybe in my dreams.
My oldest was a terrible sleeper – that is how I got into this business (after hiring a wonderful sleep consultant who transformed her into a great sleeper and forever changed my life). I vowed that #2 would be different and was bound and determined to raise a perfect sleeper from the very moment it was possible. By the tender age of 11 weeks I could put my little one down for both naps and bed and she would put herself to sleep within a matter of minutes (99% of the time with no tears!). I had accomplished my goal… well sort of. She did know how to put herself to sleep and in fact loved to sleep, but at that point she was still waking 2-3 times a night to eat. By 4 months, she was down to waking 2x a night for a feed, but when at 6 months she was still waking once a night I feared that despite all of my hard work my sleep loving, amazing self soother was going to need some help getting rid of that last feed. But this went against everything I had experienced so far and what I had taught my clients: If your baby is on the correct biological schedule, goes to bed before becoming overtired, and is proficient in self soothing, they will choose whichever biological need is most important (sleep or eating) and sleep through the night on their own once they are ready for it. But why wasn’t mine???
Its to easy to be very critical of yourself and expect perfection, but I had to remind myself of a very important fact – according to famed sleep god Dr. Marc Weissbluth (at least he’s a god to me ;)), some babies are in need of a night feeding through 9 months of age. So how was I to know if my baby was one of those babies? Was she on the correct biological schedule? – CHECK. Did she excel at self-soothing? – CHECK. Did she get to bed for the night before she became overtired? – CHECK. After her feeding, did she easily fall right back to sleep? – CHECK. Then there was my answer (which my ped confirmed as her weight gain was a bit slow); she did still need a nighttime feeding. So, I told myself that my little one would be past this nutritional need soon and I continued to feed her during that one night waking. And guess what – a few days after her 7 month birthday she slept thru the night! Then she did it again and again and now – my baby does sleep through the night.
The Tip Take-Away: While many babies stop needing to eat earlier, some do need to eat through 9 months of age. If you have a strong sleep foundation in place (detailed above in my “check list”) then chances are your babe will sleep through when their belly has caught up with their love for sleep!
Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 4 year old Stella, their 2 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and twitter for more great sleep tips!