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My wife is breastfeeding our 3-month-old baby. The baby will wake up every 2-3 hours to be fed. So she won't be sleeping through the night.

I wonder whether it is possible to train a 3-month-old breastfed baby to sleep through the night? If she can't sleep the whole night without waking up because she will be hungry, then at least can we reduce the frequency of feeding? Can we possibly train her to do that? My wife needs her sleep too.

  • At the moment you can only try to make her understand what is night and day is by keeping lights off in the night and vice versa So by doing this baby will start to know when to sleep, Mine is 2.3 months old my wife started doing this and she is getting successful at this – Rishi Mar 28 '17 at 11:44
  • You definitely can (there are methods) but it's really not recommended at such a young age. Mothers don't sleep much in the beginning because of this but it's all part of being a mother and that's a responsibility that comes with being a parent. It WILL get better. Have baby sleep within arm's reach (nearby cot carrier or in her bed) so she doesn't have to completely wake up. – Rachel S Apr 5 '17 at 20:00
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This is one of the cases where every answer should start with:
Every child is different.

There will always be those that sleep though the night almost from day one and others that need more time. A lot more. Some will need the touch or smell of their parents, others are happy to simply fall asleep. And as different as the babies are, as manifold are the "surefire recipes" to avoid the disturbed nights and lack of sleep that are so characteristic for early parenthood.

But to answer your question:

As far as any formal sleep training goes, three months is way too soon (and I'm not a fan of it, but that's my personal opinion).

There are two things you can and should work on, though:

  • teaching your child the difference between night and day and
  • falling asleep again as fast as possible.

For your child, that means during the night, there will be only a minimum of activity from your side. Keep the lights low, voices down and change the diapers only if necessary. Make the difference between day and night as clear as possible. Playtime and activity belong to the day. Your child will learn pretty fast that while you are there to fulfil their needs (security and food), there will be no entertainment, so they might as well fall asleep again. They should be tired anyway.

For you as parents, this means you will be able to go through the whole "wake up - feed - put baby back to sleep" routine while being half asleep. As human beings, we can easily handle short interruptions of our sleep (bathroom visit, anyone?) and still be more or less well-rested in the morning.

Breastfeeding has the huge advantage that you don't have to get up and prepare a bottle in the middle of the night: after that, both you and your baby (that hated having to wait) are probably really awake, which can make falling asleep again harder and thus decrease the perceived quality of your sleep. For us, this also meant co-sleeping was the way to go, especially with the child that needed us physically nearby to sleep well. During the nights, I was able to nurse without having to get up and I'm sure there were cases where I fell asleep even before the baby.

Also please remember that many sources recommend "feeding on demand" (as opposed to a fixed schedule) to ensure a milk supply matching your baby's needs and yes, that includes night feedings.

  • great answer and personal experience is so much better! – WRX Mar 28 '17 at 21:17
  • I'm having the same experience with my 7-month old. From what I've read, breastfed babies are likely to need to continue waking up once or twice until they are eating more solid foods than breastmilk. We start our son in his crib but after about 3 am, he stays in bed with us. – Catija Mar 29 '17 at 16:32
  • The AAP recommends roomsharing, but not bed sharing at this age. pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162938 – swbarnes2 Mar 30 '17 at 22:43
  • @swbarnes2 I know. This is why I wrote "for us". I'm not recommending anything. Every family has to find out what works for them. And many use those baby beds that are attached to the parents' bed. Voila, room sharing and not having to get up during the night. – Stephie Mar 31 '17 at 3:51
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I have not breastfed but as no one is answering you, I looked it up. LINK

The gist is that your baby will sleep for longer periods as s/he matures. If mum sleeps with your baby beside the bed, that may help you both sleep more, but it also seems to increase the number of months that your child will want the breast. From my own knowledge, babies can smell mum and her milk (even when no one else can) and that keeps them interested.

Rishi made a good point about light, but here is more information on LINK Circadian rhythms -- The gist being that:

"It’s difficult to start sleep training an infant before 4 months of age because at this point their biological clock hasn’t matured."

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