It's been six months since your baby was born. You've considered yourself entirely lucky, as your baby has only woken up once a night pretty much since birth. I mean, sure, in the beginning she woke up twice a night, but now it's been only once a night since you can remember. Well, except last week. Last week, she was up twice a night, but don't worry, this week she's back to one night a week. You think, "I'm so lucky my baby isn't waking up FOUR times a night though! All of my friends have babies the same age waking up 2-4 times a night!" Your baby is the best! Basically, you're absolutely positive this is just good enough, and you'll take what you can get.
Does this sound like you or someone you know? I'm going to venture that you've heard this a lot, or you've even said this yourself! But what if I told you that babies are physically ready to sleep through the night (eight hours) between 7 and 10 weeks old? How lucky would you feel then? When I hear a mama say this, especially if they are nearing their baby's first birthday, I just want to hug that mama, take over a few nights, and let that mama get a good eight hours of sleep!
When my oldest was born three weeks early, she had to go to the NICU for a high white-blood-cell count. While in the NICU, the nurses taught me so much, and I just did whatever they said to do (feed baby every three hours, and baby naps between feedings). Once my daughter was released from the NICU, we headed home! She slept for nine hours straight when we got home, and I really didn't want to disturb her! Hello...who wakes a sleeping baby? (I do, NOW, by the way.)
But I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to do when I got home. One of my nurse friends came over, and said that I needed to keep waking her up every three hours to feed her. The doctor confirmed her statement and said to make sure my baby was eating every three to four hours. And, on top of that, my sister told me about a few books I could read. So I took everything the NICU had done, remembered what my friend and the doctor said, and read the books my sister told me to read. And then I did what I thought was best based off of the information I had.
When my oldest turned 6 weeks old, I remember thinking, "I just want eight hours of sleep. Please! Just one night of eight hours! That's all I'm asking." At 7 weeks old, she slept through the night. I could have sworn it was a fluke! The next day, she went even longer, and this kept happening! I was shocked! I was amazed that the main book I had been following actually turned out right. Don't you love it when you're doing something that people say works, and it actually DOES?
When I had my twins, I remember getting to about six weeks postpartum and longing for eight hours of sleep. I kept telling myself "You're almost to seven weeks. You're so close!" And right on cue, my first twin slept through the night at 6.5 weeks old, and my second at 7 weeks old.
So if you're reading this and your baby is 11 weeks old or older, think about all that precious sleep you could actually be getting. And honestly, isn't it worth trying ANYTHING if you get a full eight hours of sleep!? I definitely think it is!! So if you're still thinking, "Well, once a night is good enough," I say, "Stop it!" Find some methods you love, and help that baby sleep through the night...and then, you can! Hurray!
Now go get that sleep you deserve!
- Mama Jackie
*Sleep is essential. We need sleep to function, to take care of our children, to keep up on every single task life throws at us, to keep our sanity. Are you getting your eight hours or do you have a baby who is keeping you up? Let’s remedy that! In the “Rested Mamas are Happy Mamas” series of our blog, sleep expert Jackie calms all of your sleep woes. Have a question or problem that needs fixing? Comment on the series and Jackie will address your specific issue.*