For the past year, I have been wondering most of the time if the baby that sleeps through the night actually exists or if it was just an urban legend. Obviously, I didn’t expect the bichin to sleep through the night immediately but somehow after a few months a lot of people start asking whether he is sleeping through the night yet creating this expectation as if it´s the normal thing to do and I have the only abnormal baby that doesn´t comply with the rules.
Sleeping through the night
So you start researching on how to make your baby sleep through the night because, hey that´s what apparently he is supposed to do right? (And besides, at some point when the black circles under your eyes almost touch your ankles you wouldn´t mind an entire night of sleep either) The first thing I found during this online research is that it´s actually some sort of a myth and that often sleeping through the night is referred to 6hours of sleep straight. Aha! So if your baby goes to bed at 7pm and he wakes up at 1am and after that a few more times, technically he has slept through the night. Somehow I expected a bit more of night to be involved when it comes to sleeping through it.
I also found that a large percentage of all children don´t sleep through the whole night until they´re at least 2 years old. So quite some pressure we´re putting on each other by asking after two months if the baby already sleeps through the night! We probably all have this one (annoying ;)) friend who really has the unicorn baby that sleeps 12hours straight from 8 weeks onwards, but we most certainly have way more people around us that are struggling with the same sleeping patterns as you do (no sleeping through the night whatsoever).
The unicorn has arrived
But I am pleased to say that after almost a year, the unicorn has arrived in our house as well and the bichin sleeps through almost all nights. He goes to bed at 7pm and usually sleeps until 6 or 7 am the next morning (with of course the occasional night where he wakes up and can´t find his dummy or lovey, but hey, I sign for this arrangement). Have to say I had this post in mind for a couple of weeks already but I didn´t want to jinx the situation!
Read also The 6am club
How we got to this new, very happy situation (slowly the black circles start to move back up) is not due to hardcore sleep training. Everybody needs to find their own way, but we were not a fan of the “controlled crying” training methods from for example Gina Ford. We didn´t feel comfortable with these methods and they felt a bit like dog training somehow. If they work for you, go for it but we were just not comfortable with it. Instead, we choose for a combination of co-sleeping part of the night and being with him (sometimes singing to him) until he was in this doozy, almost asleep state. I honestly don´t believe that a baby from the day he is born cries to manipulate you or get you to do stuff, he will have plenty of years to do these things later on but that young for me he is crying if he needs something or is uncomfortable. And thus I choose to comfort him when he cried even if it was the 5th time during a night and he wasn´t hungry or had a dirty nappy so the training manual would probably have said to let him cry it out and fall back asleep himself.
Read also To Co-sleep or not to co-sleep?
So yes, maybe he would have slept earlier through the night if we used these more extreme methods but believe it or not I much preferred my own growing black circles and constant state of sleep deprivation for a few months longer above letting him cry alone in the dark. And although the unicorn has taken a longer journey to arrive in our house, he is here now anyway!
How old was your baby when he slept through the night?