How to Get a Breastfed Baby to Sleep Through the Night

Breast milk is easier to digest than formula, which makes breastfed babies desire more feedings than formula-fed infants. More overall feedings often means more nighttime feedings, which means a breastfed baby often takes longer to sleep through the night than babies who drink formula, according to Jodi Mindell, a pediatric sleep expert. Because babies need breast milk eight to 12 times every 24 hours during the first weeks of life, they should not sleep through the night at this age, explains La Leche League International. You can help your baby sleep through the night as he gets older by establishing daytime and nighttime routines.

Breastfed babies often wake more during the night than formula-fed babies. (Image: Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Step 1

Keep your baby active and stimulated throughout the day and early evening, recommends KidsHealth.org. While babies need daytime naps, keeping your child active can ensure naptime is restful and help prepare him for sleep at bedtime.

Step 2

Nurse your baby before bed, but engage in a different activity right before she falls asleep. Nursing your baby to sleep can cause her to rely on nursing to fall asleep. Change her diaper or rock her while singing a song before laying her down to bed.

Step 3

Put your baby to bed at a specific time each night. Helping your baby develop healthy sleep patterns is a good way to encourage him to sleep through the night.

Step 4

Push your finger into the side of your baby's mouth between his cheek and gums and turn your finger a quarter of a turn gently to break the suction. This can help you make sure your infant is latching onto your breast properly and is getting enough milk when he drinks. If he is not getting enough milk, he may wake up more during the night from hunger.

Tip

Keep your child’s bed close to your bed for easier nighttime feedings until he sleeps through the night.

While some babies sleep through the night as early as 3 months old, some take longer. If you are concerned about your infant’s development, talk to her pediatrician, but remember it is completely normal for babies to reach developmental milestones at different times, explains La Leche League International.

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