When Do Babies Sleep Through The Night And What To Do

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When do babies sleep through the night? The question may have various answers because every baby is different, and their age to achieve milestones differs. Most babies go through several changes in their night sleep patterns during the first year of life. However, around two-thirds of them start sleeping through the night by six months (1). Babies are said to sleep through the night when they do not wake up for a stretch of six to eight hours, and if they do, they self-soothe themselves back to sleep (2).

This post guides you on making your baby sleep through the night and the factors that interfere with their sleeping pattern.

How To Get A Baby To Sleep Through The Night?

Parents may explore various ways to encourage the baby to sleep through the night, depending on their experiences and their baby’s behavior. The following tips may help you achieve your objective more easily.

1. Establish a bedtime routine

A bedtime routine signals the baby that it is time to settle in the crib for the night. It also soothes them before their nighttime sleep. A bedtime routine could consist of a relaxing massage, bathing, feeding, and ending it with a nice story or lullaby before you place your little one in the crib.

2. Do not change the diaper in the middle of the night

Avoid changing your baby’s diaper in the middle of the night. You may consider nighttime diapers that soak more and last up to morning. It can help your baby sleep for hours together without disturbance. Dress your baby in nighttime diapers at the end of the bedtime routine; before placing them in the crib.

3. Place the baby’s crib in your room

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing for up to six months and preferably up to one year (3). Place the baby’s crib next to your bed. It can help you soothe the baby at night more easily, helping establish a nighttime sleep routine, which can make a baby sleep through the night as they grow older.

4. Feed the baby well during the day

If your baby did not feed adequately during the day, the chances that they will wake up at night hungry and crying is higher (4). Follow a diet plan or food chart to ensure your baby eats well through the day to not have an empty stomach in the middle of the night.

5. Do not rush the moment your baby cries

Most babies wake up a few times every night before they drift back to sleep. Therefore, do not lift or cuddle them immediately when they cry or seem awake. Try and see if they can self-soothe themselves (5). Most infants learn to self-soothe, and some may pacify themselves through the sight of the parent alone.

6. Try dream feeding

Dream feeding is feeding the baby when they are asleep. For instance, if the baby sleeps at eight and you sleep at ten, you may dream-feed the baby at ten so that the baby will sleep well for another four to five hours.

To dream-feed the baby, you need to slightly rouse them and latch them to the breast or bottle. Try to limit the lights, sound, and movement as much as possible. Dream feeding may be more appropriate for babies younger than six months who are gradually settling to sleep through the night but have not achieved the skill completely yet.

7. Wean off the baby of night feeds

If your baby is older than six months, you may consider night weaning. Babies older than six months can be fed solid foods, which fill the belly for longer than breast milk or formula. Thus, you may replace nighttime feeds with a feed of solid food. Do take your pediatrician’s opinion before trying night weaning. Also, avoid night weaning if the baby is unwell or has recently recovered from illness.

Factors That Affect Sleeping Through The Night

The following conditions and situations may interfere with a baby’s nighttime sleep, making it difficult for them to sleep through the night (6).

1. Teething

Gum irritation and pain could keep your baby from sleeping through the night. Teeth begin to erupt between six to 12 months of age. Babies usually have a complete set of teeth by the time they are three years old (7).

2. Uncomfortable sleep environment

The ideal temperature for a baby’s room is 65 to 70°F (18 to 21°C) (8). A higher temperature could make the room stuffy. Excess clothing and inadequate air circulation may also make the baby feel uncomfortable. Make sure you dress the baby for sleep appropriately and maintain ideal room temperature to make it easier for them to sleep through the night.

3. Sleep habits

Inconsistent bedtime routines could set a different time of sleep each night, making it difficult for the baby to have a consistent time frame for nighttime sleep. Also, sleep-inducing habits, such as rocking the baby each night, may make it impossible for the baby to sleep without them.

Avoid using sleep-inducing methods, which could create dependency. Maintain a consistent bedtime routine and place the baby to bed when they are drowsy and not overly tired.

4. Inability to self-soothe

Some babies may be unable to self-soothe and may require assistance in the form of training. You may consider various self-soothing training methods, such as the no-crying sleep training. You may also consult a pediatrician who may suggest ways to encourage self-soothing the baby. Remember teaching your baby to self-soothe is a time-consuming process, and you must be patient with yourself and the baby.

5. Growth spurts and milestones

Growth spurts are periods of rapid physical growth. They occur around two weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months (9). It may vary by a few days, and each growth spurt continues for a few days. During this period, the baby’s sleep patterns may get disturbed, and the baby may wake up often to feed at night.

Milestones may also affect a baby’s sleep. Babies may have a hard time sleeping when they are mastering new skills, such as rolling over, sitting, crawling, standing, and walking. The period around these milestones may make it difficult for the babies to sleep through the night.

6. Sleep regressions

Babies revert to erratic sleep patterns during temporary phases known as sleep regressions. They may occur at any age but are usually seen around four months, six months, eight months, 10 months, and 12 months. They last for a few weeks before things return to normal.

7. Illness

Colds, ear infections, fever, or other illnesses could make the baby crankier, making it difficult for them to sleep through the night. However, the interference is temporary. Most babies who are already sleeping through the night get back to their old routine once they recover from illness.

When To Visit A Doctor?

Consult a pediatrician if the baby does not sleep through the night by their first birthday. Share with the doctor any other signs, such as snoring, that you may notice when the baby sleeps. If there is an underlying issue, the pediatrician will investigate on the possible causes of snoring, and advise on maneuvers to do to help the baby sleep better and through the night.

Putting in place a bedtime routine and feeding the baby well before sleeping to avoid waking up in between can help encourage babies to sleep through the night. However, if your baby is teething or is going through a growth spurt, it might not be easy to achieve the same. Ensure that your baby gets the recommended hours of sleep in a day, two to 16 hours per 24 hours (10), to ensure that they develop healthily. If your baby is not sleeping through the night by the time they are one year old, consult your pediatrician.

Key Pointers

  • To get your baby to sleep through the night, establish a bedtime routine, place their crib in your room, and feed them well during the day.
  • Some factors that affect their sleep through the night are teething, uncomfortable sleep environment, growth spurts, and inability to self-soothe.
  • If your baby is unable to sleep through the night by their first birthday, you may consult a doctor.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Infant Sleep; Stanford Children’s Health
2. What Is Dream Feeding and How It Helps Your Baby Sleep?; Sleep Advisor
3. Rachel Y. Moon, How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained; American Academy of Pediatrics
4. Katy Foster, How to Get a Baby to Sleep Through the Night; Sleep Organization
5. Getting Your Baby to Sleep; American Academy of Pediatrics
6. What is The Ideal Temperature a Baby’s Room Should Be?; Sleep Advisor
7. Teething; American Dental Association
8. What Is the Ideal Sleeping Temperature for My Bedroom?; Cleveland Clinic
9. Cluster Feeding and Growth Spurts; WIC Breastfeeding Support
10. AAP Endorses New Recommendations On Sleep Times; American Academy Of Pediatrics.
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Maria Carmela Villania-Mamauag

(MD, DPPS)
Maria Carmela Villania-Mamauag is a board certified diplomate of the Philippine Pediatric Society with a degree of Doctor of Medicine from Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City and a Bachelor in Science in Psychology from Saint Louis University, Baguio City which was augmented by a year of Bachelor in Science in Family Life and Child development at the University... more

Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate the latest advancements in the field of dentistry into her practice. She also holds a certificate in lactation counselling from iNational Health... more