Baby expert, Meg Faure, answers:
Being a new mom is utterly exhausting and somehow the moms whose babies do sleep through the night early are the only ones we hear (or the only ones who speak up). The reality is, though, that very few babies sleep through as early as four weeks. Most babies take until six months of age to sleep through the night.
Sleeping through means sleeping for more than eight hours at a stretch at night. In other words if your little one has a feed at 6:30pm, and wakes at 2:30am, he could be said to be sleeping through.
A four-week-old though can be expected to start to sleep for one longer stretch at night. In other words, if you give your four-week-old the last feed of the day at 7pm, he should stretch to four or five hours before needing the next feed. Some settled babies do sleep longer than this.
By 12 weeks you can expect your little to only be waking once at night (at around 2 or 3am) and if he’s doing this he would be considered a good sleeper.
To improve your little one’s sleep, feed in the dark and don’t change his nappy unless it is soiled. Resettle him immediately after the feed.
If your baby continues to wake three hourly or less at night, you need to rule out two problems. He may be reversing his day/night sleeps. In this case, be sure to feed at least every three hours and interact more during the day and keep night feeds very quiet. Or he may be suffering from reflux, which will need to be ruled out by a medical doctor.
You will find that night wakings are more manageable if your expectations are matching your baby’s capacity to sleep at night.