If you haven’t had a good night’s sleep since your baby was born, you’re not alone. Sleepless nights are a rite of passage for most new parents — but don’t despair. You can help your baby sleep all night. Honestly!
Getting your baby to sleep through the night is a common challenge among parents.
As newborns, babies need to wake every few hours to feed since their tiny tummies aren’t big enough to keep them full throughout the night.
However, as your baby grows, they need those nighttime feedings less.
This is usually when parents expect their babies to start sleeping through the night, but things don’t always turn out as expected, leaving parents utterly exhausted and searching for solutions.
The answer to the age-old question when babies start sleeping through the night is less straightforward than parents expect.
Believe it or not, sleep is a learned skill. So babies need to learn how and when to sleep before sleeping through the night.
Once they’re ready, our tips will help your little one start sleeping for those longer stretches.
Babies tend to be early birds, often waking up at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. Some babies, however, take being an early bird to a whole new level. These babies may wake up before dawn, around 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. If you struggle with your baby waking up earlier than you’d like in the morning, there are many strategies you can try that may help your baby sleep longer.
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How to Get Baby to Sleep Through the Night
Establish a Bedtime Routine.
It’s never too early to get a bedtime routine started. Your bedtime routine should be simple and sustainable, so it’s easy for you to do every night.
Even the slightest change in your baby’s routine can leave them feeling off and suddenly waking more frequently at night.
Include calming, soothing activities that your baby seems to respond to, like swaddling and shushing. The bedtime routine can be where you create positive sleep associations for your baby.
Teach Your Baby to Self-Soothe, Which Means Trying Your Best to Soothe Them Less.
When your baby wakes in the middle of the night and cries for you, it’s always okay to check on them.
However, try and limit your time in there with them. For example, make it clear that it’s still time to sleep, not play or eat.
Place your hand on their chest for a few moments to calm them, then leave the room. A swaddle is gently weighted on the chest and sides, which make your baby feel like you’re still there.
This can help ease separation anxiety, break the sleep association to be held to fall back asleep, and help your baby learn to self soothe.
Start Weaning the Night Feedings.
Once you get the okay from your doctor to stop night feedings, you should slowly start to reduce them.
Slowly wean them off the night feedings (maybe try a dream feed?), feeding them less and not as frequently over a few days or a week to get them used to not providing every time they wake.
Follow a Schedule.
Make sure your baby is getting the right amount of daytime sleep to prepare them to get the right amount of nighttime sleep.
As newborns, babies can’t differentiate between day and night; they sleep ’round the clock.
As they get older, they start sleeping more extended periods, the longest stretches being at night. So if they sleep too much during the day, they won’t stay asleep as long at night.
Please take a look at our sample newborn sleep schedules for some suggested guidelines.
Keep a Calming Ambiance.
Ambience can be everything! Keep the room at a comfortable temperature, make sure it stays dark, and even try adding some white noise in there!
The softest of sounds can disturb your baby at night, the white noise will provide a consistent, soothing sound for them to fall asleep to, and it will drown out any other noises happening around the house.
Keeping a soothing sleep environment and incorporating a bedtime routine along with a swaddle can help a baby start sleeping longer.
Stick to an Appropriate Bedtime.
Putting your baby to sleep later, hoping that they’ll sleep later in the morning, most likely won’t work.
If you’re following a schedule, it’s essential to keep a regular bedtime for your little one to keep them on track.
Remember, newborns don’t have a set bedtime because they’re just sleeping whenever they need to. But around three months old, you can start to establish a healthy rest to accompany your sleep schedule.
If your baby was sleeping through the night on their own before and suddenly stopped, it might be asleep regression or growth spurt’s fault.
Growth spurts usually only last a few days, and then your baby should return to standard patterns.
Baby sleep regressions, including the infamous four-month sleep regression, usually last 1-4 weeks. Be patient during times like this and focus on the fact that it won’t last.
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Make Sure Your Baby Is Getting Enough Sleep
How much sleep does your baby need? It depends on their age. Newborns need between 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day. Much of that sleep happens during naps taken throughout the day.
By the time they reach six months of age, babies still average around 13 hours of sleep per day, but they start sleeping for longer stretches at night.
That said, allow plenty of room for naptime in your baby’s sleep schedule. Missing out on naptime can disrupt your baby’s sleep rhythms and cause them to wake up early.
Although napping is essential for babies, napping for too long during the day can keep your baby from sleeping through the night.
Be mindful about how long your baby naps. The amount of daytime sleep a baby requires depends on their age.
For most babies, naps ranging from 30 minutes to two hours each is a good amount. Find what works for your baby and stick to it.
Change Your Baby’s Bedtime
Babies might also have trouble sleeping in if they go to bed too late. To help your baby sleep longer, try to adhere to a consistent sleep routine.
Avoid delaying bedtime if you can help it. You can even try putting your baby to bed earlier to see if that helps them sleep longer.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Bedtime routines help babies recognise when it’s time to sleep. As a result, bedtime routines can reduce a child’s nighttime awakenings and help them sleep longer.
If you haven’t already, start dedicating the 30 to 60 minutes before your baby’s bedtime to winding their mind and body down for sleep. Lower the lights, and switch off loud toys or electronics.
Bath your baby, sing a lullaby or read a bedtime story. Swaddle, cuddle, or rock your baby to help them relax.
Do a Dream Feeding
During the first few months of their lives, babies haven’t established a circadian rhythm yet.
That happens around age three to six months. Until then, your baby’s sleep patterns are dictated mainly by hunger.
If you think your baby is waking up too early due to hunger, try introducing late-night feeding into their schedule.
Middle of the night feedings is called “dream feedings” because the goal is to rouse your baby as little as possible
Keep the lights, noise, and activity to a minimum, and put your baby right back to sleep after feeding.
Avoid playing with or talking to them. Parents can schedule dream feedings between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. By nine months old, your baby should be able to sleep for a stretch of eight to 10 hours without needing a dream feeding.
Try Blackout Curtains
A dark bedroom makes it easier to sleep, no matter how old we are.
Bright morning sunlight shining into your baby’s room might be waking them up earlier than they (and you) would like.
Blackout curtains can keep your baby’s room as dark as possible, while a dim nightlight can provide just enough light to prevent them from feeling fearful.
Block Out Noise
Loud noise can disrupt a baby’s sleep, even to the point of waking them up.
If you live on a busy street or your baby’s older sibling plays in a rock band, do what you can to lower the volume in your baby’s room.
A white noise machine can mask other noises and prevent them from disrupting your baby’s slumber, allowing them to sleep longer.
Adjust the Temperature
Making your baby’s bedroom ideal for sleep can be tricky. The room needs to be just the right amount of dark, quiet, and calm.
A cooler temperature in the low 60 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for adults to sleep in, but babies prefer something a bit warmer, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your baby may also need a change in pyjamas to stay warm. Again, tight-fitting clothes made from cotton are a good choice that’s breathable and safe.
Change up Their Diapers
If your baby wakes up due to a wet or dirty diaper, switching to overnight diapers may make them more comfortable.
Overnight diapers are designed to be more absorbent and keep your baby’s bottom dry for several hours, enabling them to sleep through the night.
Let Your Baby Self-Soothe
Between 27% to 57% of babies aged 6 to 12 months don’t sleep through the night. If they learn to self-soothe, they can fall back asleep on their own and sleep longer.
If your baby is waking up too early, try letting them be on their own for about 30 minutes to see if they can soothe themselves back to sleep.
If your sleep training method allows you to interact with your baby, you may do so, but stay calm and minimise your interaction before leaving the room again.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to sleep. The important thing is to be consistent with whatever method you’re using.
Set an Alarm
To help your baby understand the “right” time to wake up, try using an alarm. It can be a musical alarm clock or a light with a timer on it.
Set the alarm to turn on at a more appropriate wake time, such as 6 a.m., to help your baby recognise that time as the time to wake up.
Just make sure you don’t let your child get up before the alarm, or they won’t take it seriously!
Children’s sleep schedules can get thrown off throughout their early years as they grow and develop.
Maybe they experience a growth spurt or start going to daycare.
These changes can throw off sleep rhythms for a short time, but your baby will eventually settle back into sleeping through the night.
Return to your baby’s bedtime routine, help them learn to self-soothe, and have patience.
Developing a Rhythm
Newborns sleep 16 or more hours a day, but often in stretches of just a few hours at a time.
Although the pattern might be erratic at first, a more consistent sleep schedule will emerge as your baby matures and can go longer between feedings.
By age 3 to 4 months, many babies sleep at least five hours at a time.
At some point during a baby’s first year — every baby is different — they will start sleeping for about 10 hours each night.
Have Your Baby Sleep in Your Room
Ideally, your baby should sleep in your room with you, but alone in a crib, bassinet or other structure designed for infants for at least six months and, if possible, up to one year.
This might help decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Adult beds aren’t safe for infants. A baby can become trapped and suffocated between the headboard slats, the space between the mattress and the bed frame, or between the mattress and the wall.
A baby can also suffocate if a sleeping parent accidentally rolls over and covers the baby’s nose and mouth.
Encouraging Good Sleep Habits
For the first few months, middle-of-the-night feedings are sure to disrupt sleep for parents and babies alike — but it’s never too soon to help your baby become a good sleeper. Consider these tips:
Follow a Consistent, Calming Bedtime Routine.
Overstimulation in the evening can make it difficult for your baby to settle to sleep.
Try bathing, cuddling, singing, playing quiet music or reading, with a clearly defined endpoint when you leave the room.
Begin these activities before your baby is overtired in a quiet, softly lit room.
Put Your Baby to Bed Drowsy, but Awake.
This will help your baby associate bed with the process of falling asleep. Remember to place your baby to sleep on their back and clear the crib or bassinet of blankets and other soft items.
Give Your Baby Time to Settle Down.
Your baby might fuss or cry before finding a comfortable position and falling asleep.
If the crying doesn’t stop, check on your baby, offer comforting words and leave the room. Your reassuring presence might be all your baby needs to fall asleep.
Consider a Pacifier.
If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier might do the trick. Research suggests that using a pacifier during sleep helps reduce the risk of SIDS.
Keep Nighttime Care Low-Key.
When your baby needs care or feeding during the night, use dim lights, a soft voice and calm movements. This will tell your baby that it’s time to sleep — not play.
Respect Your Baby’s Preferences.
If your baby is a night owl or an early bird, you might want to adjust routines and schedules based on these natural patterns.
Keeping it in Perspective
Remember, getting your baby to sleep through the night isn’t a measure of your parenting skills. Take time to understand your baby’s habits and ways of communicating so that you can help him or she become a better sleeper. If you have concerns, talk to your baby’s doctor.
How to Get My Baby to Sleep at Night With Sleep Training
There are many methods of sleep training, and different methods work for other families. If you’ve been patient and have tried these tips and tricks but are still struggling, sleep training might be an option to consider.
The Cry-It-Out (CIO) method, No Cry Method, and the Controlled Crying method are all common approaches to sleep training.
Ultimately, which method you use should be a decision made by you and your family.
Sleep consultants are great resources if you’re unsure of what method to use or want to learn more about sleep training in general.
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