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The Big Settle Down: Age-Based Tips for Sleeping Through the Night
All of us, from newborns to adults, move between light sleep and deep sleep during the night. Anyone who boasts that her child sleeps straight through really means that when the child comes up into light sleep, he can get himself back down without crying or calling for a parent. How can you help your child reach that same milestone? Scroll down to your child's age to find out.

0 to 3 months
A newborn's daily habits aren't fully established yet, so in the first weeks it's fine to let her doze off while you're nursing or rocking her. But by 8 to 10 weeks, she can begin learning to fall asleep on her own. Letting her fall asleep while feeding can establish a link between the two, making her more likely to cry for more when she wakes up later. If she starts to look sleepy during a feeding, ease her into her crib. Stay nearby as she nods off, but don't hold her or rock her to sleep. Babies this age need to feed around the clock, so don't expect an undisturbed night.

When your baby wakes up at night, it's your job to teach her that it's not playtime but feeding time. Don't turn on the lights or carry on a conversation. Just feed her, change her if she's wet, and set her back in her bed. The less interesting you make nighttime awakenings, the sooner she'll catch on.

4 to 6 months
By 4 months, a baby can sleep six to 12 hours straight through. Don't rush to pick her up as soon as she groans or whimpers, and chances are she'll fall back asleep by herself. If she does wake up and wants a feeding, stall a bit to be sure she really needs it. If she's been fed and changed and is still crying for you, go in and let her know you're there, but resist picking her up. Pat her and speak softly. Let her discover her own style of settling herself back down into sleep.

7 to 12 months
Even if your baby "slept through" before, she'll likely start making a fuss at night again due to her newfound thinking skills: She can now really miss you when she doesn't see you. A brief reassurance when she awakens will help her through this stage.

Babies' sleep patterns are often disrupted while they're mastering a new skill. For example, if your baby is learning to pull herself up to a standing position, expect her to practice this in her crib at night, too.

If you've gone back to work and find your milk supply decreasing, a nighttime feeding can help you maintain a good level of milk supply. It's easiest to keep your baby in your room if this is the case, but make sure your spouse is amenable to this arrangement.


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