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When Can Babies Sleep All Night?

Every exhausted new parent wants to know, when will my baby (and myself) start sleeping through the night? While you may feel like a coffee fueled zombie right now, we promise a full night of zzz’s is in your future. Sleeping through the night (and those tough months of not) is important for your little one's physical and cognitive development.

Nerd Council
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NaN MIN

When Do Babies Sleep Through The Night?

We wish the answer was more clear cut, but as you know, each baby is different. It really depends on how long your babe can go without a feeding. Whether you breast or bottle feed, consider how long your little one can go in between feedings during the day. If they are eating every 3-4 hours, then they likely can only sleep for that amount of time before raising the hunger alarm. However, some babies can go for longer stretches, depending on their growth and development.

Consider the types of feedings that your baby is having during the middle of the night. Are they gobbling up milk like they would during the day? Or are they just drinking in order to help them fall back asleep? If it is the latter, then it is time to teach them how to fall back asleep on their own.

Safe Sleep

The most important thing is to make sure your baby’s sleep space is safe. To reduce the risk of SIDS, the AAP recommends:

  • Placing your little one on their back to sleep.
  • Place for your baby to sleep is on "a firm, flat, non-inclined surface free of soft goods."
  • There shouldn’t be anything else, such as blankets, bedding, pillows, or stuffed animals, in your baby’s crib or bassinet.
  • No sleeping on any included surfaces such as "car seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers, and infant slings”.
  • Sleeping in the same room – but not in the same bed as baby, preferably for at least the first six months.
  • Avoid parent and infant exposure to nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and illicit drugs.
  • Pacifier use and breastfeeding are associated with reducing risk.
  • Weighted swaddles, weighted clothing or weighted objects on or near the baby are not safe and not recommended.
  • discontinue the use of swaddles when baby exhibits signs of rolling.

While waking up frequently during the night is frustrating for exhausted parents, it is normal and healthy for your newborn to wake up every 3-4 hours to feed.

Sleep Pattern Outline

  • 0-3 months: Newborns are not yet capable of settling on their own and need nighttime feedings every 3-4 hours. They require 10-12 hours of night sleep and 4-6 naps per day, ranging anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours each.
  • 4-7 months: Baby can learn how to self-settle and may be able to put themselves back to sleep. They need 11-12 hours of nighttime sleep, which can include 1-2 feedings if your pediatrician still recommends them. They also need at least two 1-2 hour naps per day.
  • 8-12 months: Almost all babies drop nighttime feedings at this age. They need 11-13 hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep (unless their pediatrician says otherwise). They also need at least two 1-2 hour naps per day.

Sleep Success

The best way to set your baby up for success is to have a consistent and calming bedtime routine. Following a step-by-step routine helps your babe’s body prepare for sleep.

An ideal bedtime routine for a 4-18 month old baby would include breast or bottle feeding, a bath, a diaper change, putting on pajamas, story time, turning on a sound machine, and then laying down to sleep. It is the time to wind down, cuddle up, and bond with your little one.

A Good Night’s Sleep

Independent sleep is a learned skill that requires teaching, support, and practice. There will also be roadblocks such as teething, growth spurts, sleep regressions, illness, and travel.

If you are having trouble getting your baby that is around a year old to sleep through the night, don’t hesitate to contact a sleep coach. There are many strategies besides letting your child “cry-it-out” that can be used. Your whole family deserves and needs a good night’s rest.

About the Author
Chloe Fries, PCD(DONA)
Postpartum Doula

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