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When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night? And What Might Be Preventing It?

When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night? And What Might Be Preventing It?

The sleepless nights that come with having a baby are no joke. 2 AM feedings, 4 AM diaper changes…it’s not easy. Now, after what feels like an eternity of sleepless nights, you’re asking yourself “when will my baby finally sleep through the night?”  

In this article, we will go over: 

1. When babies are developmentally able to sleep through the night? 
2. At what age can you typically expect babies to sleep through the night? 
3. What might be keeping your baby from sleeping through the night? 

Getting your baby to sleep through the night is a common challenge for parents. As I’m sure you’ve already realized, your definition of sleeping “through the night” might not mean what it used to. Before baby, you considered sleeping through the night to be a full 8-hour snooze, whereas now you might be only getting a half hour to an hour of sleep at a time. At this stage, even getting a 4 to 5 hour stretch of sleep will feel like sleeping through the night. While the 8-hour stretch of sleep might not happen until closer to 6-9 months old for most

When do babies sleep through the night? And what might be preventing it?

The good news is your baby will sleep through the night! With a little bit of effort and a lot of patience, it will happen! And we’re here to guide you through it. 

Development: When are babies able to sleep through the night? 

Here’s a little-known fact: when babies are able to sleep through the night and when babies actually do sleep through the night are two different stories.  

Sleepless nights are somewhat expected when you have a new baby. Newborns sleep a lotbut they only sleep in short intervals waking up frequently to be fed. This stage is where that patience comes in. Many doctors refer to the first 3 months of the baby’s life as the 4th Trimester. During the 4th Trimester, you’ll notice your baby’s sleep patterns are very erratic, and that’s completely normal. Although you can introduce good sleep habits during this time, it’s more important to focus on loving and caring for your little one, doing whatever you need to soothe them and make sure they’re getting all the food and sleep they need. During these first 2-3 months, you are getting them used to the outside world while bonding with your baby. Don’t worry about spoiling your baby or creating bad habits. There is no use training your baby. Just respond to their needs. 

FROM THE EXPERTS - WHEN IS MY BABY READY TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT?

“First, it is most important to talk with your healthcare provider about your baby as every baby has various needs at each stage developmentally. Has your baby hit their milestones where your doctor feels baby has the capability to sleep through the night? Many babies need to keep night time feedings in place to help extend their overnight sleep and help baby not go into sleep deficit as their body still requires the feedings to help them thrive. Do not rush to remove the feedings before baby is developmentally ready."

- Kelley Thompson, Serenity Sleepers


After th
is so called 4th Trimester, you’ll start to notice a more predictable sleep pattern emerge, which means sleeping through the night is getting closer! As your baby is slowly reaching the following milestones, his sleep is getting longer gradually. Each baby being different, you may see them fall into a more predictable sleep pattern and have longer stretches of night time sleep any where between 10 weeks to 6 months. Getting familiar with what these milestones are will help you set some expectations: 

1. Moro Reflex has decreased or stopped. Moro (startle) reflex is an involuntary reflex all babies are born with. This is a sign of a still developing nervous system. The moro reflex will gradually ease and cease to awaken your baby mid sleep. You can calm your baby and help them sleep through this reflex by swaddling them. Although the moro-reflex is completely overcome by 4 – 5 months, your baby can be calmed with swaddling to help them sleep through this reflex.  

2. Your baby is gaining weight at a healthy rate. One of the reasons your baby needs to feed so frequently- even in the middle of the night - is because they need those nutrients for their growth and healthy development! Your baby will NEED those night feedings until they have established a healthy pattern of weight gain and reach the proper age-weight milestones established by your pediatrician.  

3. Night feedings have started to decrease. Newborns have very small tummies. They are unable to take in large quantities and hence need to eat more frequently.  As they grow so do their bellies. At 10 weeks to 6 months, your baby may be able to eat more and spend more time sleeping or playing between feeds. As your baby reaches healthy weight milestones, as approved by your pediatrician, the number of night feedings should begin to decrease. Your baby is now eating more during the day and can stay asleep longer between feeds. However, just because your baby no longer needs to feed at night, that doesn’t mean she won’t wake up wanting and/or expecting to be fed or soothed. Many moms, especially those of breast fed babies, are used to nursing their babies to sleep. More than likely, feeding has become a soothing mechanism for your baby. Once you know that your baby is not hungry, try to change your baby’s soothing habits both during the day and at night so that an association is not created between mid-night awakenings and feeding or nursing.  

4. Your baby is learning to self soothe. Just like adults, it’s normal for babies to stir or wake in the middle of the night. However, to get them sleeping through the night without crying out for you when they do wake up will require them to learn how to self-soothe. During the 4th trimester, you did whatever you could to help soothe your baby. Around 3-4 months, is a good time to start a consistent sleep routine during naps and bed time gradually teaching them to self soothe so that as they are 5 or 6 months they have a predictable sleep schedule, routine and are able to self soothe most of the times. The Zen Swaddle and Zen Sack are helpful aids as your baby learns to self soothe because thy mimic the gentle comfort of your touch. Your baby will feel your soothing touch even when you’re not there and cycle from one sleep cycle to the next thus increase their overall sleep duration. Also check tips on healthy sleep routine and schedule.

Zen Swaddle helps baby sleep through the night
Real Mom Review

“I absolutely LOVE our swaddle!! My little one used to wake up a few times a night, mostly because she wanted to be snuggled. She new sleeps [with the Zen Swaddle] through the night until 5-7:30 am!!"

-Sara P.  9/9/2017


Some moms may expect their 
2-week-old to sleep for longer stretches. Due to babies’ smaller tummies and frequent feeding needs, as you can see, such an expectation may be a risk to their health.  Although these milestones are usually reached between 4 to 6 months, every baby is different. Some babies may begin to sleep 5-6 hour stretches as early as 8-10 weeks while others may not find a longer sleep pattern until past 6-8 months. Keeping your expectations realistic and working with your baby until they are able to surpass these milestones consistently will eventually help you and your baby get longer sleep stretches  


Zen Sleepwear™: the perfect solution to get baby sleeping through the night!


When do babies sleep through the night?
 What should I expect? 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 70-80 percent of babies are sleeping through the night by 9 months old. There’s quite a large age range for when babies start to sleep through the night. Between 4 and 6 months old is when babies start getting most of their sleep at night instead of throughout the day. As they get older, the number of daytime naps will decrease, and the number of hours slept at night will increase. Every baby is different - some parents get lucky and have a 1-month-old snoozing 4-6 hours at a time, while other parents might go a full year without a full night’s sleep. But not to worry, there are steps you can take to help your baby sleep through the night.  

 Age
Total Hours of Sleep (24-hr period)
Daytime Sleep Duration
Nighttime Sleep Duration
Awake Time Between Sleeps
0-6 Weeks
15-18 hours 15 minutes-3 hours (3-5 naps) 2-4 hours 30 minutes - 1.5 hours
6-15 Weeks
14-16 hours 30 minutes - 3 hours (3-4 naps) 3-6 hours 1-2 hours
4-6 Months
12-15 hours 1-3 hours (3 naps) 6-8 hours 1.5-2.5 hours
6-8 Months
12-15 hours 1-3 hours (2-3 naps) 9-12 hours 2-3 hours
8-10 Months
11-15 hours 1-2 hours (1-2 naps) 10-12 hours 2-3 hours
10-12 Months
11-14 hours 1-2 hours (1-2 naps) 10-12 hours 2.5-3.5+ hours


Now that you know the age and developmental milestones to look out for and how and when to start working on a predictable routine, you may feel more confident than before. Being a part of a new mom or new parent community may offer some support as you battle these first time sleep issues. As long as you allow the teachings from other parents or online articles to be as a guide and adapt them to your unique baby, you will gradually find success.   

FROM THE EXPERTS

“Some babies are ready and able to sleep through the night at 4-6 months of age, while others may not be ready until they are between 8-10 months of age, and there are babies that need a feeding between 10-12 months. There is a misconception by many that there is a magical age that all babies will sleep through the night without a feeding...every baby has their own needs and meets their own milestones and sleep goals at various times.

- Kelley Thompson, Serenity Sleepers


Even after your baby has followed r
egular sleep patterns and schedule, despite your best attempts, your baby may sporadically awaken mid sleep for apparently no reason. We have created a chart to indicate night-time sleep and awake patterns by age. Click here to see the typical number of night time awakenings by age. The next section speaks about some of the reasons why your baby may awaken mid sleep despite having a normal night-time schedule. 

What is keeping my baby from sleeping through the night? 

Although you can’t expect your baby to go from sleeping short stretches to double digit hours in one day, sleeping through the night should happen gradually. Always keep in mind that every baby is different and will reach this phase on their own timeline. Even after babies begin to sleep for longer stretches, it is common for their sleep to at times regress and wake up mid sleep. Parents are bewildered as to what may be causing the change:

ZEN MOM ZONE

“I have a 6.5 moth baby. She tends to wake up every 30 minutes. She just cries, so I rock her and she goes back to sleep. She's not hot or cold, and she is well fed. I'm very confused why she wakes up randomly like this. This is something new - she has never done this before. Is something bothering her? Please help!"

- Reem S., January 8, 2018


Reem’s
 situation is one many mom’s find themselves in. There are a number of problems that could cause a disruption in your baby’s sleep, like teething or gas. Check for some of these common culprits and follow our tips to remedy them. But if the problem persists or you find your baby isn’t sleeping for longer periods of time at night by six months old, check in with your pediatrician. Your baby could simply have their days and nights confused, or there could be an underlying problem like acid reflux that’s keeping your baby from snoozing like they should be.   

Here’s some reasons that could be impacting your baby’s precious zzz’s 

1. Your baby is going through a sleep regression. Sleep regressions seemingly come out of nowhere and might include changes in your baby’s behavior such as refusing to nap, waking up frequently at night, or fighting sleep for no apparent reason. They most commonly occur at 4 months old, 6-8 months old, 10 months old, and sometimes even 12 months old. This period usually lasts anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks. Get the scoop on how to get through a regression here. 

2. Your baby is experiencing a growth spurt or illness. Growth spurts have been known to interrupt a baby’s typical sleeping patterns. A cold, flu, or other illness will also cause your baby to be fussy and sleep less or erratically. If you think your baby is sick, consult your pediatrician. But growth spurts are usually short and you should see your baby’s sleeping and feeding return to normal within a few days.  

3. Your baby can't fall asleep independently. Here’s where that self soothing milestone comes in. If your baby is not used to falling asleep on their own, they’re going to need you to help them fall back asleep every time they wake up, even in the middle of the night. The things that help them fall asleep are referred to as sleep associations, and they can make getting your baby to sleep and stay asleep very difficult. The Zen Swaddle and Zen Sack as part of a bedtime routine can help establish positive sleep associations that teach your baby to self soothe and get back to sleep on their own. 

Zen sack helps baby boy sleep through the night
Real Mom Review

“This sleep sack has made a world of difference for our little guy! He went from making every 2 hours or so, to sleeping a good 6-8 hours in a row, EVERY night!!"

-Shannon M. 7/10/2017


4. Your feeding/diaper changing schedule needs to be altered.
 Maybe you’re feeding your baby right before bed and it’s become one of those sleep associations we talked about. OR it’s causing them to wake up from a wet, uncomfortable diaper in the middle of the night. And it may seem like a no-brainer, but loading up your baby with food before bed in the hopes that they’ll sleep longer without needing to be fed isn’t great advice. Think about how you would feel eating a large meal right before bed...it’s the same for babies. It might be time to get strategic about your feeding and diaper changing schedule  

5. Your baby's environment isn't conducive to sleep. The environment around your baby plays a large roll in how well they sleep. 

FROM THE EXPERTS

“The sleep environment is one of the most important aspects to help a baby sleep more soundly. Do you have the right sound machine, black out curtains or shades, the right temperature for the room, and is she dressed appropriately? The early morning light could be hindering baby, or they could be waking from being too cold or too warm. Is the noisy neighbor waking baby at 5 am and causing a disturbance in baby's sleep? Addressing the sleep environment is important for baby."

- Kelley Thompson, Serenity Sleepers


So to summarize,
 to help your baby sleep for longer stretches in the night, help them with their developmental milestones, institute a consistent sleep routine, maintain a feeding routine that meets their and your nourishment needs, help them develop healthy sleep associations that don’t necessarily depend on your presence and you will have a sleeping angel through consistent habits and a little patience. 

FROM THE EXPERTS

“I find it very helpful to keep a daily log of baby's feeding and sleep schedule, this can help you see their overall schedule in a 24-hour period and where there may be any issues. It is vital that a baby has the important sleep foundations set in place. 

- Kelley Thompson, Serenity Sleepers


Read more on 
How to Get Your Baby To Sleep Through the Night for tips, proven pre-bed-time routines and schedules that work. 

If you’re baby has nighttime sleep down, but could use some help with naps, take a look at our article on How to Get Baby to Nap: Baby Nap Schedule During Their First Year.  

Check out our 7 Tips and Tricks on How to Get Your Newborn to Sleep for more baby sleep advice! 

 

You Might Also Like...

Surviving Sleep Regressions

Moro Reflex: What it is and how swaddling can help

The Zen Sack: How it Works 

 

 

Manasi Gangan

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