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When Can Infant Sleep Through the Night? 10 Amazing Tips to Achieve It

Reading Time: 10 minutes

As an exhausted parent of a newborn, you’ve likely googled in desperation “when can infant sleep through the night?” more times than you can count. Between midnight feedings, diaper changes, and soothing your little one back to sleep, it can feel nearly impossible to get rest.

But here’s the good news: You won’t have a tiny newborn forever. At some point in the first year, your infant will be developmentally ready to start sleeping for longer stretches. By implementing helpful sleep habits and techniques, you can support them along the journey towards sleeping through those blissful 7-8 hour nights.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll cover everything parents need to know about infant sleep and achieving longer stretches. From what “sleeping through the night” really means, to techniques, tips and tricks to try at home, you’ll be armed with knowledge to help your baby (and you!) get the zzz’s you need.

So grab your coffee, cuddle up with your babe, and let’s dive in!

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When Can Infant Sleep Through the Night? 10 Amazing Tips to Achieve It. Image Credit: Canva

What Does “Sleeping Through the Night” Mean for Babies?

Before we can decide if babies are sleeping “long enough,” we first should define what sleeping through the night actually means in infant terms.

For adults, we think of it as getting an uninterrupted 7-9 hours of shuteye before having to roll out of bed. But for tiny babies still eating during nighttime hours, the benchmarks look a bit different.

Generally, when your pediatrician asks if your infant is sleeping through the night, they mean:

  • 5-6 continuous hours of sleep without waking to feed

So even if your little one isn’t regularly logging 8 straight hours (lucky!), periods of 5-6 hours count as sleeping through the night early on.

As they grow bigger and begin dropping night feeds, you can extend the “sleep through” definition to longer increments:

  • 6 month olds: 6-8 continuous hours
  • 9 month olds: 8-10 continuous hours
  • 12 month olds: 10-12 continuous hours

While every baby is different, use these guidelines as a rough benchmark. If your infant is consistently sleeping these stretches or longer between 4-6 months old, congrats – you’ve likely got a great little sleeper!

If not, keep reading for tips to encourage longer sleep.

At What Age Can Babies Start Sleeping Through the Night?

The million-dollar question, right? When is that glorious age your infant can reliably sleep those 5-6 hour stretches?

Many excited parents think babies should be sleeping “through the night” right out of the womb. But newborns are still developing circadian rhythms and feeding frequently around the clock.

Here’s a realistic rundown of infant sleep milestones:

Newborn Sleep Habits (0-2 months)

At this tiny age, babies have little ability to distinguish between night and day. Which means lots of sporadic snoozing and frequent wakings to eat, averaging:

  • Total sleep: 15-18 hours per day
  • Night sleep: 2-4 hours max
  • Daytime naps: 30 minutes – 2 hours

Don’t expect newborns to start stringing together long sleep at this stage. They eat frequently and drift in and out of sleep cycles.

Infant Sleep Patterns at 2-4 Months

Around 2-3 months, babies become more alert during daytime hours. This concentration of awake time during daylight helps develop their circadian rhythm. Other 2-4 month sleep habits typically include:

  • Total sleep: 14-15 hours per day
  • Longest night stretch: 3-4 hours
  • Daytime naps: 30 minutes – 2 hours

By months 3-4, most babies will sleep one 4-6 hour stretch, which technically meets pediatrician criteria for “sleeping through the night.” Hallelujah!

Baby Sleep Habits at 4-6 Months

Between 4-6 months old, separation anxiety may disrupt sleep patterns for a period. But overall night wakings continue to decrease thanks to bigger bellies that stay fuller longer. At this age:

  • Total sleep: 14 hours per day
  • Longest night stretch: 5-8 hours
  • Daytime naps: 30 minutes – 2 hours

As you can see, this 4-6 month range is when parents can expect babies to reliably sleep through the night by definition, logging consecutive 5-hour stretches.

Of course, all infants reach milestones differently depending on their temperament and other factors like illness or regressions. Use these ages as a general guide of what to expect.

If your baby isn’t sleeping a 5 hour stretch by 6 months old, check with your pediatrician or consider implementing sleep training techniques. We’ll dive more into troubleshooting later.

Next, let’s go over signs your infant isn’t getting enough total zzz’s in a 24 hour period.

Age RangeIdeal Total Daily SleepLongest Night StretchExample Schedule
0-3 months14-17 hours2-4 hours11pm – 6am <br>2-3 naps, 30m – 2h each
4-11 months12-15 hours5-8 hours8pm – 6am <br>2 naps, 1-2h each
1-2 years11-14 hours8-12 hours7pm – 6am <br>1 nap, 1-2h
Ideal Sleep Times By Age

Is My Baby Getting Enough Sleep?

Aside from achieving longer night stretches, it’s also key that infants get adequate total sleep over a 24 hour period. Different age groups need different amounts:

Newborns 0-3 Months:

  • Total sleep goal per day: 14-17 hours

Infants 4-11 Months:

  • Total sleep goal per day: 12-15 hours

If you notice your baby showing any of these warning signs of overtiredness, it likely indicates their total sleep is insufficient:

  • Increased crying and fussiness
  • Difficulty soothing themselves
  • Shortened naps
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased night wakings

Adjust daytime routines to ensure adequate napping if your infant displays these symptoms. An overtired baby will have much more difficulty sleeping through the night.

Sometimes changes in sleep are also tied to physical or cognitive developmental leaps. Next, we’ll break down the reasons your baby may wake more frequently.

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When Can Infant Sleep Through the Night? 10 Amazing Tips to Achieve It. Image Credit: Canva

Why Do Babies Wake Up During the Night?

Ah, the dreaded midnight wake-up call. Even after you get longer night stretches down, you can expect your infant to still stir sometimes during closed eye hours.

Some common reasons for night wakings include:

Physical Discomfort

Is there a wet diaper, gassiness pain, too hot or cold? Physical discomfort is a major reason babies interrupt their nighttime slumber.

Try adding more tummy time and gas-releasing bicycle kicks during the day. And double check sleep temperature, pajamas/swaddles, and diaper dryness at night.

Growth Spurts and Developmental Leaps

In infancy, fast-paced growth and cognitive development happens continually. Both can temporarily disrupt normal sleep patterns.

When learning a new physical skill like rolling over, or making intellectual connections like object permanence, sleep setbacks for a few days are common. Ride out any regressions knowing they are a sign of progress!

Hunger

During those early months, night waking is primarily driven by hunger as tiny tummies need frequent refills. Consider trying the “dream feed” technique before you go to bed so bottles last longer.

Separation Anxiety

Between 4-7 months old, many babies develop separation anxiety and panic when they emerge from sleep cycles and their parents aren’t present.

You can’t spoil a baby at this age by tending to their needs. However implementing self-soothing techniques can help them learn to settle solo.

Sleep Associations

Rocking, nursing or specifics like certain blankets make great sleep cues. But if absent when the baby transitions sleep cycles, signaling the end of the snooze.

Focus on implementing consistent, independent sleep associations like white noise that are present all night.

With the reasons “why” covered, let’s get into the good stuff – tips and tricks to achieve longer stretches!

Age RangeFactors That Can Temporarily Disrupt Sleep
0-3 monthsHunger, discomfort, gas
3-6 monthsGrowth spurts, developmental leaps, separation anxiety
6-12 monthsTeething, illness, sleep regressions, travel
1-3 yearsNightmares, dropping naps, potty training
Common Sleep Disruptors By Age

Develop a Soothing Bedtime Routine

Implementing a predictable bedtime routine with consistent sleep cues is key to quality slumber – for baby…and later on for you!

A soothing pre-sleep ritual helps infants understand when it will soon be time to drift off. Elements to incorporate:

Calming Activities: A warm bath, getting into pajamas, reading stories, singing lullabies. These quiet activities lower energy.

Consistent Timing: Try to keep the routine within the same 60-90 minute window each evening.

Sleep Cues: Use the same blankets, soft lighting, white noise, song, and phrase like “night night”. Cues signal to rest.

Full Bellies: Offer a bottle or breastfeed as part of the routine so the baby feels nice and full before bed.

Put Down Awake: Place your drowsy (not completely asleep) baby in the crib. Falling asleep independently helps reinforce self-soothing skills.

Stick to the same restful sequence for a month to cement it as a habit. Consistency night after night works wonders!

Once you have a soothing pre-bed ritual established, let’s make sure your little one is getting properly fueled before lights out.

Building a Good Bedtime Routine for Your Baby

Ensure Proper Feeding Before Bed

We just covered offering a late evening bottle or breast as part of the bedtime routine. This not only settles an infant and meets sucking needs, a solid feeding helps a baby’s belly stay full longer through the night.

If your infant is still taking night feeds, consider offering a “dream feed” – a feeding done when they are still mostly asleep, typically between 10pm-1am depending on last feed time. Dream feeds take advantage of lighter sleep cycles to top them off without fully waking them.

A few tips to make dream or late evening feeds effective:

  • Slow-flow nipple: Mimics breasts to avoid choking or overeating
  • Feed heavier: Offer more ounces than usual to increase calories
  • Don’t overfeed: Watch for fullness cues to avoid spit up or tummy troubles
  • Burp well: Get up any trapped gas so it doesn’t bother them later
  • No stimulation: Keep lights low and talking/activity to a minimum

For breastfeeding moms low in supply overnight, try power pumping sessions after the last evening feeding to stockpile a bottle for dad or your partner to offer as a late dream feed.

The combination of a solid bedtime bottle, full tummy, and consistent sleep cues sets the stage for long stretches of nighttime sleep.

Next let’s cover how to wrap your baby up nice and snug to recreate the cozy conditions of the womb.

Master the Art of Baby Swaddling

Swaddling – securely wrapping up an infant in a blanket or thin muslin – remains a tried and true trick for calming newborns and protecting night sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends safe swaddling for babies up to 2 months.

Here’s why swaddling promotes longer sleep:

  • Recreates womb: Feeling snug and secure activates calming reflex
  • Reduces startle: Blocks those jerky movements that wake baby
  • Prevents scratching: Stops arms from startling baby if face scratched

But incorrectly swaddled with loose fabric or once mobility develops can be unsafe. To swaddle safely:

  • Use thin muslin material that “breathes
  • Ensure hips can bend and move
  • Alternate arm position half way through sleep
  • Stop when signs of trying to roll emerge

The ideal sleep space setup covered next works hand-in-hand with swaddling success.

Pediatrician Tips for Swaddling Baby to Get More Sleep

Create an Ideal Sleep Environment

Beyond feeding and swaddling methods, optimizing the sleep environment can make a big difference in helping a baby sleep soundly through the night.

Ideally, your infant’s bedroom should be:

Cool: Choose lightweight pajamas and keep room around 65-70° F. Babies sleep best slightly cooler.

Dark: Blackout any cracks of light that signal daytime to infant brains.

Quiet: Mitigate loud noises that could startle awake. Consider a white noise machine to dull unpredictable sounds.

Crib Only: Letting infants get used to sleeping in vibrating rockers or swings makes the flat mattress tougher to adjust to later.

Designing an intentionally calm, boring sleep space encourages rest and avoids overstimulation.

In addition to swaddle transitions, developmental milestones like rolling, separation anxiety, or sleep regressions can all temporarily throw infant sleep off track. Having a game plan to encourage self-soothing is essential.

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When Can Infant Sleep Through the Night? 10 Amazing Tips to Achieve It. Image Credit: Canva

Encourage Self-Soothing Skills

A common reason babies wake after short stretches is losing the ability to fall back asleep independently after natural arousals between sleep cycles.

Not instantly tending to your baby at every night cry can be tough. But fostering self-soothing early on results in better quality sleep for infants long-term once arousals emerge.

A few techniques to build self-soothing skills:

Bedtime Fading: Put your baby down slightly later each night to encourage letting you know when tired.

Camping Out: Sit next to the crib without contact to reassure with your presence. Slowly move further away.

Timed Checks: For cry it out, progressively space out comforting checks as tolerance allows.

Consistency here is key – remain lovingly resolute once committing to a plan. If you waiver, it can increase anxiety.

There are also more formal methods like sleep consultants and training for babies 6+ months truly struggling with sleep associations, schedule irregularities, or frequent night wakings.

Know When to Use Sleep Training Techniques

While usually a last resort, formal sleep training becomes appropriate once all standard newborn sleep tactics like dream feeds, white noise, ideal environment, etc. have been tried without success.

Most pediatricians recommend waiting until at least 6 months old before initiating any formal “cry it out” extinction-based training.

Here are a few trusted methods and the typical age windows for trying them:

Taking Cara Babies: Uses gentle “fading” method with parental presence. Recommends 4 months+ or signs baby is ready.

Ferber Method: Allow baby to “cry it out” in timed intervals to teach self-soothing. Best for 6 months and older.

Total Extinction: Zero parental intervention even if the baby becomes hysterical. Only appropriate for 12 months+.

While often effective in helping babies learn to self-soothe, sleep training techniques can still feel stressful for parents. Always proceed cautiously and check with your pediatrician before starting.

If you have sincere concerns that your infant’s sleep habits seem abnormal despite various efforts, do reach out for professional support.

Consult Your Pediatrician If Needed

Reading article after article, it may seem like every baby sleeps through the night effortlessly after a few months. But in reality, night waking, overtiredness and struggles with self-soothing are persistent issues for plenty of parents in that first year.

If your infant is 6+ months old and you have diligently tried all the tips above including sleep environment optimization, sleep association management, dream feeding, etc. but your baby still wakes frequently or can’t fall back asleep independently, reach out to your pediatrician for help troubleshooting.

It’s also appropriate to inquire with your doctor if you observe any of the following in your baby:

  • Snoring or breathing issues: Could signal sleep apnea
  • Seems to be in pain: Ear infections or teething may disrupt sleep
  • Unusual sleep positions: Potential underlying conditions
  • Extreme overtiredness/night wakings: Rule out reflux, allergies or other factors

While some waking is still developmentally normal in the first year, your pediatrician can help identify if an underlying health or environmental factor is at play, or determine if more aggressive sleep training techniques may help the baby achieve restorative sleep.

Sleepless in Parenthood – It Gets Easier!

In those early months after bringing home your newborn, restful sleep can feel eternally elusive for the whole family. But take comfort that the sleepless nights won’t last forever.

Have realistic expectations about normal infant sleep milestones, foster healthy sleep habits early on, and know

that with time, patience and consistency, both you and your little one will be logging those blissful uninterrupted eight-hour nights.

If progress towards “sleeping through the night” seems stalled, don’t hesitate to enlist the support of sleep consultants or your pediatrician to help strategize. While exhausting in the moment, remind yourself that this too shall pass.

Before you know it, you’ll have a big kid on your hands who can’t wait to bounce out of bed at sunrise for Saturday morning cartoons. So in those bleary-eyed midnight wake up calls to soothe and settle your tiny one, try to pause and soak up a few extra snuggles. The days of a small bundle sleeping on your chest will soon swiftly drift away like dream feeds of the past.

FAQ – When Can Infant Sleep Through the Night

How much total sleep should my baby be getting each day?

My 4 month old still wakes up every 2-3 hours. Should I be concerned?

What’s the best way to transition my baby out of the swaddle?

How do I know if my baby is ready to start sleep training?

Is bed sharing safe?

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When Can Infant Sleep Through the Night? 10 Amazing Tips to Achieve It. Image Credit: Canva
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