Sleeping through the Night

How do you get your baby to sleep? 

Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: I can’t even get my own child to take a nap during the day! Before my son, I think my answer would have been a very textbook-type answer. However, my son has been the best education a doctor could have. The first few weeks were difficult, and I think I rarely had a full night’s rest. But I found we were most successful through setting up a daily routine that my son could get used to. It was difficult at first, but we stuck to it. It has paid off as we now are able to enjoy peaceful nights and afternoons.

 — Jeffrey McDaniel, MD, a dad of a nine-month-old son and  a family physician at Methodist Family Health Center in Midlothian, Texas, and on staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center 

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Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: After age 1 to 2 months, an infant is capable of sleeping through the night for 12 hours. When you continually go in and feed them or hold them, this becomes a trained night feeder. In utero, infants are up at night and sleep during the day. To reverse this pattern, start by eliminating the 2 a.m. feeding. Go into their room (they should be in their own room at this time), check them, change them and get out of the room as quickly as possible. Do not hold, cuddle or prolong the visit with pacifiers. The infant will cry for several minutes. Keep an eye on the baby but do not let your child know you are there. You will see that the first two nights, the child will carry on for up to 15 minutes. By the third night, they will cry about five minutes. After that they will sleep through the night!

The next feeding to eliminate would be between 4 to 5 a.m. and then 11 p.m. to midnight. Usually by knocking out the 2 a.m. feed, the child will eliminate the other feeds. They will redistribute their quantity of food during waking hours. Infants should sleep about 18 hours a day and should be put to bed around 7 or 8 p.m. if your schedule permits.

Jan Widerman, DO, a dad of 37-, 34-, 27-, and 25-year-old children and an AOA board-certified pediatrician in private practice in Philadelphia

Q&A by Wyatt Myers