When Will Your Baby Sleep Through the Night?

Baby sleepingMost new parents comment on the sleep deprivation that goes along with having a newborn baby. As a sleep consultant for over 10 years, a common question is when do babies start sleeping through the night? The short answer is babies start sleeping through the night more regularly around 6 months old. Some formula-fed babies will sleep through the night as early as 4 to 6 months old while some breastfed babies will sleep through the night around 6 to 9 months old. This article will share more details about when babies sleep through the night.

What Is Sleeping Through the Night?

First, I always need to ask what “sleeping through the night” means to you because, for some, they mean to have a baby sleep through the night, including feedings, and others mean sleep straight through 10-12 hours, with no feedings.

For me, “baby sleeping through the night” meant my baby sleeping 10-12 hours without feedings. It was around 4 months old, with both breastfed sons, that they started sleeping pretty much straight through BUT with two feedings at night, so I couldn’t really expect much more than that.

Sleep was not perfect (particularly with my eldest son because why else would I have an entire website about baby sleep?), but it was ten times better once I changed their sleep associations. They both ended up breastfeeding to sleep or wanted to be rocked to sleep all night long. Once I taught them a new way, they were able to sleep in longer stretches.

One thing I know for certain is regardless of whether you think “sleeping through the night” is with or without feedings, it can feel like your baby will never do it.

If it’s not one thing it’s another.

Maybe it’s a feeding, replacing a pacifier, or rocking them to sleep, or perhaps it’s cold in their room. If it’s not cold, maybe it’s hot. Confusing! There are so many reasons babies wake up! That’s the main reason to start sleep training.

When Will Your Baby Sleep Through the Night?

Obviously, I can’t really look into my crystal ball to tell you when YOUR baby will sleep through the night. I can tell you that I’ve heard it all when it comes to doctors telling parents when their baby shouldn’t need anymore night feedings and should be sleeping all night.

I can also tell you that parents who are skeptical that their 3-month old breastfed baby can go without any feedings for 12 hours per night, you should be. 12 hours is a LONG time, even for many adults! And, if your baby is breastfed, they will likely need to eat at night a bit longer than their formula-fed friends.

But, if your baby or toddler is older than 6 months old and waking more than once or twice a night, there is definitely something you can do about it.

Of course, if you are fine with co-sleeping or feeding your toddler at night, then there is nothing much to worry about except the effect on the teeth without brushing and how it can lead to bottle mouth syndrome, in some cases.

The short answer is that NO ONE goes off to college needing a bottle in the middle of the night (at least that I know of), so don’t worry about it “never happening.”

What Do Sleep Experts Say?

If your definition of sleeping through the night is with feedings, your baby can sleep through the night by 4 to 6 months, usually, on average. If you mean straight through without feedings, most can be night-weaned by around 6-9 months old sometimes as late as 12 months or beyond. The “experts” all vary and offer conflicting advice:

  • Dr, Sears (The Baby Sleep Book) says night feedings are normal up through 18 months or more.
  • Pantley (The No Cry Sleep Solution) agrees.
  • Weissbluth (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) says it’s normal for babies to need 1-2 feedings up through 9 months, and can then be night-weaned.
  • Ferber (Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems) says a baby can go up to 8-10 hours without feeding by 3 months.
  • Babywise agrees.

My pediatrician and yours would probably say something different, too. We’ve worked with pediatricians as clients even.

This is why reading all of these different opinions made my head spin and I wrote my own book on baby sleep (to save other parents time and money). No, I don’t have THE answer. I actually keep the option open that YOU can find the answer that works best for you and your baby! Surprise!

Conclusion

If you think your baby or toddler is waking out of habit, then they probably are. Even if you think they are truly hungry, you might have the confidence that if they would just eat more during the day, they’d be able to sleep all night (I recommend at least an attempt at night-weaning once you feel this way). If you believe your baby or toddler “needs” to eat just to fall asleep and not because he’s hungry, then teach them how to sleep without eating.

You know your baby best and the key is not to have the answer (believe me, there is no ONE answer for all of us), the key is to have the tools to teach your baby to sleep more independently and when you have your tools, sleeping through the night will naturally follow when your baby is truly ready.

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7 thoughts on “When Will Your Baby Sleep Through the Night?”

  1. I’m jealous! My baby is 9, almost 10 months and like clockwork wakes up every three hours (or more often if teething). She naps pretty well, 60-90 minutes most often, twice a day. We put her down awake both at nap and bedtime and she fusses but falls asleep pretty quickly, no end in site for these night wakings tho! And she WILL NOT go back to sleep without the mom-snack, we’ve tried cuddles, reassuring pats and offering a soother but not sure what else to do without creating a new association. SIGH I’m tired

    • Hi Jenna,
      Thank you for using The Baby Sleep Site as a resource! I’m sorry to hear you’re having some trouble getting your daughter to sleep for long stretches at night. Most often, if baby is healthy and is still waking this often at 9 months, the issue is with the schedule. She may not be getting enough calories during the day, or she may have her naps not spaced correctly (overtiredness can cause night waking). There is also a sleep regression around this age that may be the culprit; we have an article on that here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-patterns/8-9-10-month-old-baby-sleep-regression/
      I hope this helps, but please let us know if we can help further! Good luck!

  2. My first born started sleeping through (i.e. 12 hours without waking at all) at 22.5 months – 3 days before his baby brother was born 5 weeks premature so I count myself lucky that I am not waking with two children now! My first born has always been very small (on the 0.4 percentile or below for weight) and so I continued to breastfeed him at night until he was 17 months when my milk dried up due to my pregnancy. Then I think he woke out of habit for another 5 months or so and just needed reassuring and sometimes a drink of cows milk. It has been a really hard two years in therm so fmy sleep deprivation but he is just such a delightful confident little boy and I am glad I always responded when he needed me. I will definitely be doing some things differently with his baby brother (now 8 weeks) though – i.e. not nursing him to sleep and teaching him to fall asleep on his own in his cot from an earlier age! It can seem like it will never end – I did 5 or 6 times a night for months on end – but it does and I am so proud of my son for how he is sleeping ow. He also does a 2.5 hour nap each day at a regular time which i great for getting things done – I think he is also catching up on sleep from the last 2 years. I guess I will do that once my baby can go a bit longer than 3 hours between feeds!

    • Hi Laura,
      Good for you! Sounds like you are really in tune with your son’s needs and that he has benefited in the long run for it. Happy to hear that you’ll take what you learned the first time around and apply it to help your younger son to get him on the road to healthy sleep habits as well. Thanks for sharing.

  3. my daughter slept 10hours straight when she turned 3months and for another 3 months it was bliss! unfortunately at 6mths she got a cold and started waking every few hours. her doc advised me to feed her to settle her again so she gets extra fluids! then teething set in so breastfeeding at these wakings was also to “soothe” my baby. Well now now she is 11months and still waking 2-3 times to feed to complete her 9-10 hours night sleep..Did I spoil her into waking for night feedings? Somehow I feel she really does get hungry as rocking to sleep doesnt help…
    Wonder how long this will last and will she ever go back to sleeping at a stretch

    • It sounds like she now has a sleep association in that she thinks she has to nurse to go back to sleep. This is where you’ll need to come up with a plan or a strategy to help her learn to fall asleep without the nursing. Depending on how much she’s eating during the day, at this age, she really is capable of going through the night with either no feeding or just one feeding which means that now it is just habit for her. I’d recommend reading through this series Nicole wrote about sleep training for ideas and tips on how you can teach her to learn to soothe herself back to sleep when she wakes at night: https://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/sleep-training-from-no-cry-to-cry-series-part-1/

  4. My daughter started sleeping 8 hours straight at around 5 1/2 months. My son started sleeping 11 hours at 6 1/2 months. I consider myself lucky in this regard. Napping is another story! 😀

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