Getting your baby to sleep through the night is a common challenge among parents. As a newborn, 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 night time 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.
Believe it or not, sleep is actually a learned skill. Babies need to learn how and when to sleep before sleeping through the night. Once they're ready, our 8 tips will help your little one start sleeping for those longer stretches.
To understand how to get your baby to sleep through the night, you first need to know if your baby is able to sleep through the night.
You can also help set the stage for a good night's sleep by making sure your baby Is getting the right amount of sleep during the day. In How to Get My Baby to Nap we give you tips to make sure your baby is cultivating good sleep habits during the day, which will help them sleep better during the night too.
Your baby has to be able to sleep through the night before they can! There are a few milestones they need to reach first, like a decrease in Moro Reflex. If the answer to that question is “no” then you might be wanting your baby to start sleeping through the night before they’re ready. Check out our article on When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night to learn if your baby is ready/able to sleep through the night.
If your baby is capable of sleeping through the night but still struggling, there might be an underlying reason your baby isn’t sleeping through the night – OR they’re right on the cusp of starting to sleep through the night. There are several reasons that can cause your baby not to sleep through the night, including sleep regressions, a growth spurt or illness, or the inability to fall asleep independently.
Whether your baby is experiencing one of the problems above, or they’ve just surpassed the milestones to be able to sleep at night, there are ways you can help your baby (and yourself!) sleep through the night.
Here’s how to get baby to sleep through the night:
1. 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 smallest 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.
2. 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 go check on them. However, try and limit your time in there with them. 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. The Zen Swaddle and Zen Sack are 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.
Sweeter Sleep Story
“My 8 week old daughter loves her Zen Sack. Once it's nap and bedtime, I turn on the sound machine and put her in it and it's like it gives her instant comfort and she knows it's sleep time. She is warm and secure and sleeps longer stretches because of it!"
- Cheryl L., 10/18/2017
3. Start weaning the night feedings. Once you get the okay from your doctor to stop night feedings, you should slowly start to reduce them. In many cases, feeding becomes a sleep association because you fed your baby every time they woke up. Just because that’s no longer necessary, doesn’t mean your baby won’t want it anymore. 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 feeding every time they wake.
4. 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 just sleep ‘round the clock. As they get older, they start sleeping longer periods, the longest stretches being at night. If their sleeping too much during the day they won’t stay asleep as long at night. Take a look at our sample sleep schedules for some suggested guidelines.
5. Keep a calming ambiance. Ambiance can be everything! Keep the room at 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.
6. Stick to an appropriate bedtime. Putting your baby to sleep later in the hopes that they’ll sleep later in the morning most likely won’t work. If you’re following a schedule, it’s important to keep an appropriate 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 3 months old, you can start to establish a healthy bedtime to accompany your sleep schedule.
7. Be patient. If your baby was sleeping through the night on their own before, and suddenly stopped, it might be a sleep regression or growth spurt’s fault. Growth spurts usually only last a few days, and then your baby should return to normal patterns. A regression can last 1-4 weeks. Be patient during times like this and focus on the fact that it won’t last.
8. Check out our sleep tips! In Baby Sleep Simplified you'll find sample schedules for every age through the first year, as well as tips on what you should focus on during every sleep stage to help your baby become a good sleeper. You can also check out our 7 Tips and Tricks on How to Get Your Newborn to Sleep or our 7 Highly Effective Sleep Tips.
How to Get my Baby to Sleep at night with sleep training
There are many methods of sleep training, and different methods work for different 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 just want to learn more about sleep training in general.
Learn more: sleep training
Use these tips to help get your baby to sleep through the night. And remember, the Zen Swaddle and Zen Sack are effective tools for helping babies sleep better and longer – and they could be the key to teaching your little one to self soothe!
Zen Sleepwear™: the perfect solution to get baby
Need help when it comes to nap time? We’ve got you covered. Read How to Get Baby to Nap: Baby Nap Schedule During the First Year.