A common question I get in my practice is ‘when will my breastfeeding baby start sleeping through the night?’ I really wish I could predict the future and start answering this question when it’s asked. But the truth is, I don’t know! In fact, no one knows when your baby will start to sleep through the night. But here’s what I DO know. You’re not doing anything wrong! Sleeping through the night (5+hour stretches) is a developmental milestone that every baby meets at different times in their lives. It is normal and expected for babies to wake several times at night. It helps prevent SIDS, helps with baby’s weight gain, mental/emotional health and strengthens the connection between parent and baby. It’s also important to know that there is no evidence to suggest that formula fed babies sleep longer stretches than breastfed babies, contrary to what you may have heard. Moms prolactin levels (milk making hormones) are highest at night and it just so happens that babies tend to be more wakeful at night, especially in the first few weeks after birth. Aren’t babies smart creatures!?
As a mom myself I’ll share my own experience. I have 2 girls, both of them were exclusively breastfed. My first baby slept 5-6 hour stretches of sleep from the day I brought her home from the hospital. When she was 2 months old she was sleeping 8 hours straight. 🙌🏻 Then my second baby was born. She never slept more than a 3 hour stretch of sleep until she was 2 years old (yes, TWO YEARS old). In fact, she’s now 4 years old and still wakes up and comes into our room and night while my oldest daughter snoozes away like a hibernating bear.
Ultimately, it is normal for your baby to wake several times a night. And if you’re waking up with them to nurse you are meeting so many of their needs. You are not creating bad habits. Catch a nap whenever you can, enjoy a cup of coffee and I promise you’ll all be sleeping through the night soon enough.