"A baby who enjoys this style of nighttime parenting learns that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a secure state to remain in. Therein lies the key to nighttime parenting." -- Dr. Sears
One of the questions most often asked by new parents is, "When is my baby going to sleep through the night?" Of course, we asked this too with Robotson, but we soon fell into a workable routine where I was able to nurse him while sleeping. I remember when the pediatrician would ask me how many times he was nursing at night, or if he was sleeping through the night, my answer was "I don't know." I slept through it all. Around 18 months, I noticed he had stopped nursing at night and was finally sleeping through.
To make this work, we co-slept. I'd heard all the reasons why we shouldn't. My parents were some of the most vocal about it, but I couldn't imagine not sleeping together. First of all, I was working 10 hour days. Sleeping curled up next to my little boy for eight hours at night was a way to reconnect after a long absence. I wouldn't have given that up for the world. One year stretched into two, and on and on, until he was four years old and still sleeping in our bed. When we got pregnant with Funny Girl, talk started about getting him into his own room. Talk is cheap though and they were soon both snuggled up with us at night. Eventually, he was just too big and moved to a futon in our bedroom. Funny Girl wasn't a good sleeper. She spent the first year of her life screaming until 3am. It wasn't colic, there was no reason. She just didn't like sleeping. Even after naps, she would scream and scream. I found myself wondering again, if she would ever sleep through the night. After that first year, it was much easier at night but she was still waking up to nurse. I never got the hang of sleeping through her nursing like I did with Robotson. She didn't keep me up, but I did wake up. I soon got pregnant with Dimples and shortly before she was born, FG stopped nursing at night. I was running really low on milk that late in my pregnancy anyway.
Dimples will be two years old next month. She has just this week begun sleeping through the night. Only in the last two months have she and Funny Girl been sleeping in their own beds, in their own room. Most nights they still end up in bed with us. By the way, Robotson finally ended up in his own room for good after Dimples was born. He wasn't happy about it, but the time was right.
So to new parents who ask when their babies are going to sleep through the night, I say it depends. If you co-sleep and practice child led nursing, it could be a couple of years. I've had parents look at me in horror when I've said that, but I don't think it was a nightmare. I'm a little sad that Dimples doesn't need me at night anymore. The first time she slept in her room all night long, I woke up several times. I even went down to check on her, afraid there was something wrong. I checked on her again last night too. She's ready to grow up, but I think it's going to take me a few more weeks.