All babies have different sleep patterns. It does not mean you are doing something wrong or your baby is manipulating you, if they are not sleeping through the night. Actually, very young babies < 6 months old who are breastfeeding normally do not sleep through the night, but may wake to breastfeed with 3-4 hour sleep cycles in between to achieve a minimum of 8 feeds in a 24 hr period. This is especially true in those warmer months when baby needs more breastmilk to stay hydrated. If you are considering sleep training here is my list of my six recommendations to consider first.
- Check in with your family Doctor or your Public Health nurse to ensure your baby is gaining weight adequately and following its growth curve. Mention you want to try sleep training and if it would be appropriate for your baby. If your baby is falling off its growth curve, this could be why they are waking more at night to feed?
- Babies < 6 months who are exclusively breastfeed will feed more frequently because their stomachs are small and they digest breastmilk so easily. It would be my personal recommendation to wait until after six months to start sleep training when you know your baby is gaining adequately and has started solids in addition to breastfeeding.
- Is your baby more fussy and his/her sleep pattern changed all the sudden where they are now waking more in the night? It may not be that your baby is manipulating you, but they may be unwell and/or your milk supply has dropped? See your doctor to rule out any medical reason that could be contributing to your baby’s change in behavior.
- Newborn babies are nocturnal and it is normal that they wake to feed at night. Babies will also increase their feeding pattern when going through a growth spurt. This is how they get your breastmilk to change. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your milk making hormones are also highest at night. Cutting back breastfeeds to early can reduce your milk supply, even predispose you to Mastitis and therefore it is best to check with a Public Health nurse or Doctor before doing sleep training.
- Sleep when your baby is sleeping and this means parents taking a naps in the day if possible. When your baby is 6 months old and starts solids in addition to breastfeeding, this is generally the time you will start having longer sleep periods at night.
- Canadian guidelines recommend having your baby sleep in your room on its own safe sleep surface for the first 6 months. Canadian Safe sleep guidelines
If you are finding it difficult to cope with your baby’s sleep pattern, check in with your Doctor or local Public Health nurse to rule out any potential problems before deciding if sleep training if right for you and your baby.