How To Get A Baby To Sleep Through The Night
How Long Should I go on Accepting That my Baby Wakes me at Night?
It’s up to you, but it’s best for your baby if he can easily disturb you for the first six months of his life, and it may help him if you’re available for the next six months as well. Babies need to wake at night in the early months for food and because their immature bodies need contact with nurturing adults at regular intervals just to keep going.
After the first six months your baby may no longer need to be with you at night for physical reasons, but he may still need you psychologically.
At about seven months your baby is beginning to grapple with the idea that you and he are not one and the same thing, as he originally assumed, but two different people. It can be a scary idea. Your baby’s way of dealing with this is to stick with you more than normal. He may show more clingy behaviour in the daytime and have difficulty falling asleep alone at night. And as he floats in and out of sleep at night he senses that you are no longer there and he may call out for you to restore the togetherness that he feels is the natural order. In fact, nearly half of all children who normally sleep through the night are disturbed in their sleep between seven and nine months.
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Psychologists call this separation anxiety. It occurs at about seven or eight months and within a couple of months it passes. But it’s not a once-and-for-all affair. Throughout his first two years your baby will have times when he will be getting to grips with his place in the world – and while he’s doing that he’ll need a lot of help from you. He’ll need your reassurance, your encouragement and to feel your confidence in him He may well want to be with you more than usual, night and day. How you deal with this is up to you.
This is why most sleep therapists recommend that you wait until your baby is a year before you try out any behaviour management plan which involves leaving your baby to cry. By this time, the theory goes, you can be sure that your baby is calling for you out of habit rather than need. However, there are behaviour management techniques that involve very few tears and can be tried even with a baby at the height of separation anxiety (see page 118).