Learn When Babies Sleep Through the Night

Both new and experienced parents wonder when their babies will be able to sleep through the night. Experts say that by about 8 or 9 months of age, many babies can “sleep through the night,” meaning they can sleep for long stretches or self-soothe if they wake during the night. It's important to remember that what “sleeping through the night” means varies from baby to baby, and can even change as your baby gets older. Read on to learn more about when babies typically sleep through the night, and how you can help your baby sleep better at night.

When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night?

What parents would typically call “sleeping through the night” is when their baby sleeps for long stretches at night, or wakes in the middle of the night but falls back to sleep without crying out for soothing. Many, but not all babies, can comfort themselves and go back to sleep by themselves at around 8 or 9 months of age. Generally speaking, if your baby can wake up during the night but get himself back to sleep, then experts might say he is a “good” sleeper. But it's important to know that your baby’s sleep patterns may vary considerably throughout the first year. Getting to the stage where your little one can sleep through the night is not necessarily a linear process. Your baby might be able to sleep for longish blocks with no issues for several weeks or even months, and then revert to waking up in the night and crying out for attention. What’s more, “sleeping through the night” is actually a misnomer. No one actually sleeps right through the night — not even adults can do this. There are always periods of wakefulness and going back to sleep, and this is normal. It turns out that both daytime and nighttime sleep are important for your baby’s development, and it might reassure you to know that a recent study suggests that it’s normal, and not harmful, if your baby doesn’t sleep through the night by 6 to 12 months of age. In this study, “sleeping through the night” was defined as six to eight hours of sleep without waking up, and the researchers determined that babies who wake up more frequently in the night are no more likely to have developmental issues than other babies.

How Do Babies Learn to Sleep Through the Night?

Your baby has to learn how to self-soothe after waking so that he can fall back asleep without crying out for you. Even though the ability to self-soothe and fall back asleep could develop at around 8 or 9 months, this might not be the case for your baby. Every baby is unique, and many factors — even things like your child’s genetic makeup and temperament — can affect your little one’s sleep patterns. Sleep training might be able to help your baby get closer to being able to sleep through the night. Be patient in these early months; it takes time to get to the point where your baby can sleep through the night.

Nighttime Sleep Patterns by Age Group

Your baby's age is a key factor in how long your little one sleeps at night, and whether she can self-soothe when she wakes at night. We’ve described some typical scenarios below, but for more personalized advice it’s best to speak to your baby’s healthcare provider.

Your Baby’s First Month: Multiple Sleep Blocks at Night

In their first month, newborns generally sleep most of the time and wake every few hours, day and night, to eat. Breastfed babies may wake up about every two to three hours; bottle-fed babies may wake up every three to four hours.

If your newborn stays asleep for longer stretches than this at night, your baby’s healthcare provider may suggest waking her for a feeding until the time she starts showing some consistent weight gain. After this you can probably let her sleep for longer stretches at night. Your provider will be checking on your baby’s growth at your regular checkups.

You might find that this first month is the hardest on you, as having to get up several times during the night to tend to your little one will leave you feeling exhausted. If you can, take naps during the day to help keep your own energy levels up, and try to be patient; sleeping through the night may not be too far off for your baby.

1 to 6 Months: Longer Stretches of Nighttime Sleep

  • At 1 month old, your baby may begin to sleep for longer stretches in the night, perhaps including one longish block of 3 to 4 hours. It’s during this time that your baby’s circadian rhythms are forming, and he’s getting used to the difference between day and night.
  • By 2 months old, your baby will be more alert and sociable during the day, which means he may end up sleeping a little longer at night. At this point, you may even choose to skip one nighttime feeding.
  • From 3 to 5 months old, your baby may be able to sleep for a stretch of about 5 to 8 hours at night. If by about 6 months old your baby still has trouble sleeping for these longish lengths of time at night, you might consider shortening the length of his afternoon nap. If even with this fix he continues to wake up several times in the night, talk to his healthcare provider to get some personalized guidance.

6 to 12 Months: When Sleeping Through the Night Could Start

  • At 6 months old, your baby may start sleeping the majority (between 60 and 70 percent) of her daily sleep hours during the night.
  • Between 6 and 10 months is the period when your baby will start getting more active and mobile, as she begins rolling over,  crawling, and pulling herself up on furniture. All these activities tire her out, resulting in these longer periods of sleep at night.
  • At about 8 or 9 months old, your baby might be able to sleep anywhere between 6 to 12 hours at night without waking up hungry.

Just remember that these typical scenarios don’t mean that your little one won’t wake up during the night occasionally. And, depending on when you put your baby to bed, she may wake up very early in the morning after a long block of sleep — meaning that you, as the parent, won’t necessarily be “sleeping through the night” just yet. For example, if you put her to bed at 8 p.m., she may wake up between 2 and 4 a.m., which will still be an early wake-up call for you.Pampers


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