It’s 2 a.m. You’re just sliding into sleep when you hear a squeak from the bassinet. You say, “Oh, please…please…just another few minutes, sweetie!” But you’re already awake—waiting for the next cry—and slumberland is fast disappearing in your rearview mirror.
Your baby’s sleep cycle (the full circuit from light to deep to light NREM sleep…plus a bit of REM) lasts only 60 minutes. So, about every hour, she’ll enter a light sleep…or even briefly wake and make a short moan or squawk.
Unless she’s wailing, give your little friend a few moments to soothe herself and dive right back into sleep. If she’s swaddled and you’re playing a rough and rumbly white noise, she should settle within 30 seconds.
However, if your princess insists you attend to her at 1 a.m. (and 3 a.m.…and 4 a.m.), something may be bothering her. Noises—from a snoring parent to a passing truck––can jolt her awake each time she returns to light sleep (especially if she has a sensitive temperament). But hands down, your baby’s #1 middle-of-the-night, snooze-shattering disturbance is hunger.
The Solution: Frequent Daytime Feeds
During the early months, your favorite subject may be sleep—but your baby’s is definitely food!
In the womb, you literally fed her every single second. So, it’s no surprise that she needs frequent feeds to sustain her fast-paced growth. In fact, mothers in some cultures actually nurse their babies 50-100 times a day! I’m not recommending that to you, but breast-fed newborns do need at least ten to twelve feedings a day. (Bottle-fed babies need 6-8.)
Is it possible to manage that and still get more than 2 hours sleep in a row? Yes! The key: during the first few months feed your little one 1.5-2 hours during the day (if he’s sleeping, wake him after 2 hours). That should help you get a couple of back-to-back longer clumps of sleep (3, 4, or even 5 hours) at night.
It’s totally doable! And with the help of swaddling, white noise and a dream feed, the night sleep should grow by 6 hours…then 7 hours at a stretch, by 3 months.