When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night

A baby sucking their fist while lying on their back

Between yawns, one of the most pressing questions asked by new parents is, “when do babies sleep through the night?” While the answer varies from baby to baby, there are steps parents can take to help their little ones sleep through the night. Establishing a consistent newborn sleep schedule is the key to creating a healthy sleep pattern, ensuring parents and babies sleep soundly all night long. 

The Importance of Sleep for Babies’ Development

Babies grow rapidly in their first year of life and they need plenty of sleep to develop physically, cognitively and emotionally. Getting your baby to sleep through the night can be challenging, but your efforts are entirely worthwhile and will ensure your baby gets all of the quality rest they need to grow and learn each day.

Newborn Sleep Patterns: What to Expect in the Early Weeks

Newborns typically need anywhere between 14 and 17 hours of sleep each day. Despite their need for lots of sleep it is completely normal and expected for newborns to wake up through the night. The newborn sleeping pattern is closely tied to the baby’s feeding schedule, and because newborns need to eat every two to four hours, that’s approximately how long you can expect your newborn to sleep before they are awake and hungry. 

Sleep Regressions: Understanding and Handling Regression Periods
After your baby has made progress sticking to a sleep schedule, sleep regression may occur. Sleep regression happens between three and four months when babies are experiencing a big developmental leap. Babies may be fussier, wake up more often and fight bedtime. A true regression will last more than a couple of days — usually between two and six weeks.  Some ways to manage sleep regressions include:

  • Creating and sticking to a regular bedtime schedule (bath, book, eat, bed).
  • Putting baby to bed when they’re drowsy.
  • Making sure naps don’t last more than 2 hours at a time.
  • Keeping your baby awake for at least 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime.

Remember that sleep regressions are a normal part of your baby’s development and it will eventually pass.

Milestones in Baby Sleep: From Newborn to Toddlerhood

Babies start on a newborn sleep schedule and hit a number of milestones as they progress toward toddlerhood:

  • Newborns usually only sleep for two to four hour stretches between feedings.
  • Two- and three month-old babies start to sleep for five to six hour stretches.
  • Four-month-old babies may sleep for seven to eight hours each night, depending on whether they need night time feedings.
  • By six months, most babies are able to sleep through the night.
  • At twelve months, babies need less sleep — ten to fourteen hours per day — and still need daytime naps for one to three hours.
  • Some children experience another sleep regression at eighteen months, which will resolve on its own just like the four-month regression.

Establishing a Consistent Bedtime Routine
Creating a consistent baby bedtime routine will help you ensure your baby gets enough quality sleep each night. Your baby will eventually learn the bedtime cues, and they will likely look forward to bonding with you during bathtime, storytime and pre-bedtime cuddles. Make sure to finish off your bedtime routine with a feeding because they sleep better with full tummies. Keep baby’s room dark, quiet and cool. Try using a sound machine to drown out any loud noises.

Tips for Helping Your Baby Self-Soothe and Fall Back to Sleep
Self-soothing is an important skill that will help your baby fall back to sleep on their own. They learn this skill through sleep training. Do not attempt to sleep train babies younger than four months. Sleep training is not synonymous with crying it out — there are many different methods, so make sure you do your research and pick one that will work best with your family. 

Seeking Professional Help: When to Consult a Pediatrician or Sleep Specialist

Establishing a sleep schedule can be very challenging, and if you find yourself struggling, reaching out for professional help is invaluable. Consult a sleep specialist if your baby is unable to sleep through the night by the time they are one year old, begin snoring or have trouble breathing while they sleep. A pediatrician or specialist will be able to diagnose or rule out any potential child sleep disorders.

Tips for Parents: Coping with Sleep Deprivation and Taking Care of Yourself

For those with newborns, sleep deprivation can be incredibly difficult to navigate. A new baby’s sleep schedule can be exhausting, so it’s important for parents to take care of themselves during this time. Newborn parents can try the following:

  • Get sleep while your baby is sleeping.
  • Take turns waking up with the baby throughout the night.
  • Make use of parental leave, if available.
  • Ask family members or friends to help out so you can catch up on sleep.
  • Consider hiring a postpartum doula.
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