In the classic parenting book Your Baby & Child, Penelope Leach states an enduring truth: "Being a parent means broken nights." How "broken" those nights will be, and how long they will last, is a variable that is foremost on the mind of every new parent. How can my baby sleep through the night.
Unfortunately, as much as new parents want (and need) more sleep, the typical baby is not programmed to accommodate this need. Infants are simply too small, and need to eat too frequently, to sleep through the night before they are four to five months old or have doubled their birth body weight.
Four to five months? That can seem like an eternity to bleary-eyed parents who can't even imagine how they'll make it through the next day, never mind the weeks ahead.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs between seven to nine hours of sleep per night. These days, most adults get by with just under seven hours per night, and one-third of adults sleep six and one-half hours or less per night. And most parents of newborns get considerably less sleep than that. While this may not have much impact in the short run, cheating your body in this way builds up a sleep deficit that will eventually impact you.
Research confirms what we already know: well-rested people are able to concentrate more fully, produce more quickly, and handle stress better. In contrast, those who are sleep-deprived can have difficulty performing even the simplest of tasks. Tasks requiring logical reasoning and memory are especially hard hit by lack of sleep, which might explain why new parents seem to have such difficulty keeping track of car keys and eyeglasses!
However, there is hope for sleep-deprived parents—and it comes in the form of advice from the experts. While the advice varies greatly, everyone seems to agree that babies must learn to distinguish day from night. Fortunately, there is much parents can do to help babies understand when it is time to play and when it is time for rest. Here are a few suggestions to help your baby sleep tonight:
- Have Baby sleep in a portable crib or bassinet during the day.
- Do not make the room completely dark while Baby naps.
- Provide stimulation when Baby awakens from her daytime nap; be as boring as dry toast when she awakens at night.