Dr. Sarah Mitchell
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The 3 Reasons Why Your Baby Won’t Sleep Through The Night

There are 3 reasons your baby won’t sleep through the night, and 2 of them you can influence.

First, let’s define what sleeping through the night means.  In my world, it means 11-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

You can read more about sleeping through the night definitions and how many times breast fed babies need to eat overnight in my blog When Can My Baby Sleep Through The Night.

REASON #1:  She’s not ready

The first reason your baby won’t sleep 11-12 hours through the night is that she’s just not ready.  Most breastfed babies will need 1 night feed until around 9 months, on average.  If she is formula fed, she may be able to sleep longer periods sooner due to the slower transit time of formula, as well as your slower response time to make a bottle in the night,  but formula is the NOT the answer to getting your baby to sleep longer periods.  Keep reading, and you’ll realize why.

REASON #2:  She’s overtired

When children are being kept awake too long between naps or before bed time, it becomes harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.  This can manifest in frequent night wakings, and early morning wake ups.  All of that ends up cutting into her night time sleep.  All babies need 11-12 hours of total overnight sleep.   The signs of being overtired include:  taking a long time to fall asleep, trouble staying asleep, frequent night wakings, early wake ups and fussiness during the day.  Not to mention bags under her eyes.

REASON #3:  THE REAL REASON:  She’s got a sleep crutch

All of us humans, babies, toddlers, kids and adults, surface from sleep at night between sleep cycles.  A nighttime sleep cycle is 3 hours.  When an adult surfaces at night, we might reposition ourselves, check the clock and relax back down into the next sleep cycle, but your baby who needs help falling asleep at bedtime will cry out for the same help that she had falling asleep.  Often this sleep crutch is nursing back to sleep, but it could also be sucking from a bottle, a pacifier, being held, or sleeping on someone.

Sometimes kids have multiple sleep crutches.  It is very common that I hear from a Mom who will nurse to sleep at bedtime, but then at the night waking bring her baby into bed with her and the physical contact will relax baby down into sleep.

So if your formula fed baby is using the bottle as a sleep crutch, she’s not going to sleep through the night any sooner than a breastfed baby.

What can you do about a sleep crutch?  

When you are ready, meaning when you are so tired and exhausted that you have that moment where you think “I cannot go on like this”.  You look at your baby, you see the bags under her eyes and realize that she’s not well rested,  then its time to do some sleep training or sleep teaching as I like to call it. So your baby can learn to relax without help and become a well-rested , happy independent sleeper.

You can read more about different types of sleep training methods on this blog Sleep Training Techniques Defined.

Sleep training does NOT mean closing the door and having her cry herself to sleep.

There are a variety of styles and any style you use can work as long as you are 100% committed to following it through.  Sleep teaching is NOT just about bedtime. It is really a 24 hour all day approach to set your baby up for success.

Helping Babies Sleep - The 3 reasons your baby won't sleep through the night
My guy and I at 8 months

When I had my son, I was totally against letting my child cry at all.  I answered his every cry with nursing him back to sleep.   By the time he was 4 months he weighed 20 lbs!  Lol

In this photo he is “leaning out” at 8 months by being more physical, and not using the boob as a soother anymore. So I understand your anxiety about letting your baby cry at all.

You should know that you can be in the room with your baby and –


She will be a much happier and relaxed baby once she’s having less interrupted night sleep.  I can’t tell you how many clients that I work with that report a happier baby at the end of sleep training, even the ones who described their baby as “happy” on their intake form.

You can read more about my journey in this blog How I Failed At Attachment Parenting.

I have so much more I want to teach you about baby sleep and how you can help your baby!

Wouldn’t you like to know Why Your Baby Fights Sleep?

Ever wonder how long you should keep her awake between naps?

Baby Sleep Training Step by Step

If your’re thinking about sleep training. I can teach you everything you need to know in my online course. Baby Sleep Training Step by Step

You’ll be welcomed into my private Facebook Community. Where I answer your follow up questions and you’ll get support from like minded-moms on the same journey as you.

You can learn more about my online course Baby Sleep Training Step By Step.

Read More:

5 Tips to Set Up Your Nursery to Help Your Baby Sleep

The 2 Year Old Sleep Regression; They Don’t Call it the Terrible Two’s for Nothing

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