When it’s 3 a.m., Helen Gill, a New York City mom of two boys, is usually up feeding her 7-week-old, Tom. I’m exhausted all the time,” she says. But I’m resigned to the fact that this is the way it is in the beginning and it’ll be over soon.”
She’s right. Between 8 weeks and 12 weeks, your baby may start sleeping long stretches at night — anywhere from four to six hours — because she won’t need to eat as frequently, says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Sleeping Through the Night. And by 6 months, when those nighttime feedings are finally over, she may be able to make it to morning without waking.
To help your baby get there, you can start to teach her good sleep habits. At around 12 weeks, when her sleep patterns become more regular, try to put her down for naps at the same time each day, and establish a bedtime routine — bath, books, feeding, and a snuggle — to help her recognize when it’s time to sleep. Though it may be tempting, don’t limit daytime siestas, hoping your baby will snooze longer at night. She could get overtired and actually have a much harder time falling and staying asleep.
Put her in the crib when she’s drowsy, instead of waiting until you’ve rocked or nursed her to sleep, so that she’ll learn how to nod off on her own. Before you know it, you’ll both be getting more quality shut-eye.