Baby Sleep: Expert Q & A
Should you wake your baby for feedings? How many naps does baby need? Our expert answers some of the most common baby sleep questions.
Should I stick to a strict sleeping schedule?
I think you should give your baby the opportunity to have a routine, and I
like for babies to have down time to relax in their own crib.
Try to have some semblance of a routine and schedule, but it doesn’t have to
be right down to the minute.
How can I get my baby to start sleeping through the night?
Keep it dark and quiet, and have a routine every evening that consists of
quiet time -- maybe a bath, reading a book, or brushing baby’s teeth if they
have any yet. Get them calm and drowsy before putting them in their crib, and
be consistent, put them down the same way each time. In the middle of the
night, shorten your routine and rock or pat your baby for just a minute or so
before putting her back to sleep.
You don’t want baby to fall asleep while you’re feeding or rocking them,
though, because you want them to figure out how to put themselves to sleep.
Should you wake them if they do fall asleep then? No, especially not in the
first month; it’s impossible to avoid falling asleep during feedings and
rockings when they’re that young. But after the first month, put them to sleep
drowsy…if they’re falling asleep when you’re nursing, for example, stop nursing
and put them to sleep. If they’re falling asleep too soon, try starting your
calming, quiet routine sooner.
The other thing you want to do is to make sure the baby isn’t overtired when
you put her to bed. Don’t wait until the baby is really fussy; try to stay a
step ahead and look for the signs she’s getting sleepy before she’s
It’s also helpful to know that once babies get to the point where they’re
eating more in the daytime they don’t need to wake and eat at night. But don’t
overfeed the baby to encourage her to sleep through the night. Some parents try
to push more formula, breast milk, or baby food on the baby right before sleep
and that can backfire because the baby might not settle in well, just like you
when you’ve eaten too much at Thanksgiving dinner. Wait until your baby settles
into a pattern where he naturally eats more in the daytime.
Should I let my baby cry himself to sleep?
It depends on the baby and it depends on the age. The method of crying it
out has been the most studied and it works for many babies, but you should talk
to your pediatrician about whether it’s right for yours. Some babies get tired
and go to sleep after crying, but some just get angrier. So, where crying it
out works for many babies, it doesn’t work for all of them. And there’s some
babies who just need to wake up and feed and then they’ll go back to bed.
Instead of denying the feeding, and having the crying, it’s best to feed