Breastfed babies often need to eat more often than formula-fed infants because breast milk is much easier for the body to digest. At first, there isn't much you can do about this -- newborns require frequent feedings, often about two to three hours apart. Fortunately, sometime between 2 and 4 months of age, your baby's body will become capable of sleeping through the night without waking to breastfeed as long as you have prepared her for the long stretch of sleep.
Encourage activity during the day. You can use simple activities, such as reading stories to a young baby, to keep her mentally engaged, provide tummy time to help strengthen muscles and encourage physical activity in older infants. Babies cannot differentiate between night and day, so it's up to you to keep your child active during the day so she can sleep at bedtime.
Establish a regular routine. While young infants do not understand day and night, your baby will come to recognize a series of events, giving time to prepare for sleep. Start a routine about 15 to 30 minutes before bedtime. Give your child a soothing bath, read a story and then end the routine with breastfeeding.
Place your baby in bed while he is still awake. Don't let an infant fall asleep while nursing because this will make nighttime sleeping more difficult. When a baby falls asleep during breastfeeding, he does not learn to comfort himself and fall asleep on his own. He expects his mother to be there when he wakes up and may not be able to soothe himself back to sleep.
Keep nighttime feedings as mundane as possible. When your baby wakes during the night, keep the lights dim, do not chit chat and try to breastfeed in the same room. Babies are easily stimulated and may be less inclined to sleep after nursing if there is plenty to see, hear or do.
Place your baby back in bed awake. Again, this will help your infant learn to fall asleep on her own. As a child becomes more accustomed to falling asleep on her own, she will be able to self-soothe if she wakes up during the night.
- Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers; Nancy Mohrbacher, et al.
- Baby Sleep Training Made Simple: From Naps to Sleeping Through the Night; Sophia Lawson
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images