Changing your baby's sleep cycle: 6 strategies that work

My baby is seven weeks old and nurses every two to three hours during the day. He is a big baby and gaining weight well. He has started sleeping about five hours at night, however it is from 9pm to 2am. How can I get him to sleep longer or from 11pm to 4am?


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

You are one of those envied moms whose breastfeeding baby is actually sleeping through the night -- and at only seven weeks of age. Basically, you would like to adjust the hours that your baby spends asleep.Changing a baby's sleep cycles is not always easy. Try these 6 strategies:

1. Nurse frequently. Babies should be nursed at least 8 to 12 times every day. To encourage your baby to go to sleep later, try increasing your frequency of nursing during the day and early evening. It is common for babies of this age to cluster feed in the evening.This may help to provide the nutrition they need to carry them through the night.

2. Allow your baby to finish the first breast. This will provide more of your rich hind milk, which may also help your baby to space out nighttime feeds.

3. Carry him. Carrying your baby in between feedings (with the aid of a sling) may help to keep your baby relaxed during the early evening hours, and will encourage him to remain awake to participate with the family.

4. Gradually stretch out the time that he is awake. By bathing him and playing with him in the evening you can help to gradually adjust his sleep cycle.

5. Nurse your baby back to sleep. If your baby falls asleep a couple of hours before you go to bed, you could try quietly nursing him at that time. Most babies will nurse for a while and then drift back off to sleep.

6. Nurse in quiet, darkened room. If your baby wakes at night to nurse, encourage him to return to sleep by nursing in a darkened room. Unless your baby has had a bowel movement or has a rash on his bottom, it is unnecessary to change his diaper in the middle of the night.

My best wishes in mothering!


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