With a new baby, sleeping through the night can feel like such an elusive goal. When can your baby sleep through the night? When will your baby sleep through the night? And, how can you work towards sleeping through the night in a gentle, healthy way that works for your child?
Well, The Baby Sleep Site ® is an entire website focusing on answering those questions (and more). We have a free blog with over 200 articles, a DIY library with our Members Area, e-books, and, most importantly, personalized sleep consulting packages since all babies are unique.
So it’s difficult, if not impossible, to give you a quick and easy answer in this question as to when your baby can sleep through the night. What we can share, however, are some general guidelines and averages that will help you get a better sense of when your child may start to sleep through the night.
Babies can sleep through the night as early as 3 months old, though some won’t until they are 12 months or older. Breastfeeding babies tend to sleep through the night around 9-10 months old while formula-fed babies tend to sleep through the night by 6 months old, on average, sometimes as early as 3-4 months old.
Let’s explore this in more detail.
Babies Sleep Through the Night With How Many Hours?
It’s important to start by defining what ‘sleep through the night’ means. See, ‘babies sleeping through the night’ is actually a bit misleading. Why? Because sleeping through the night means different things to different people. For instance, many people consider ‘sleeping through the night’ to mean 8 consecutive hours of sleep, without any wakings. That’s probably because we adults consider 8 hours of sleep a full night’s sleep. Other parents consider sleeping through the night to be 11 or 12 straight hours of sleep without interruption (the number of hours most babies need).
Here’s the thing to remember, though: there is actually a medical definition of babies sleeping through the night. And it looks very, very different than most parents’ definitions! Medically speaking, a baby is sleeping through the night when she can sleep for 5 straight hours without waking.
For our purposes, we’ll use 11-12 uninterrupted hours of sleep as our definition of sleeping through the night since that’s what most people want to know, in our experience. In other words…
When can babies sleep through the night without any feedings?
When Can Babies Sleep Through The Night?
Several years ago, The University of Canterbury in New Zealand performed a study on this very topic. Their research yielded the following averages:
- Between birth and 3 months of age, most babies make measurable progress in consolidating their sleep, so that they achieve one long stretch of sleep per day.
- By the 3 month mark, over 50% of babies were sleeping 5 hours straight at night.
- By the 5 month mark, over 60% of babies were sleeping 8 hour stretches at night.
- By 12 months, about 70% of babies were sleeping 8 hour stretches at night.
So, as mentioned above, babies can sleep through the night as young as 3 months old but may take as long as more than 12 months.
You might also be interested in:
- Night Weaning Quiz: Is Your Baby Ready to Night-Wean?
- 3 Signs It May Be Time to Night-Wean
- Night-weaning vs. Sleep Training – Which Comes First?
When Will YOUR Baby Sleep Through The Night?
The averages above can be helpful in providing a snapshot of patterns of babies sleeping through the night, but it still doesn’t answer your most pressing question: “When will my baby sleep through the night?” Your baby is unique and when he or she sleeps through the night is dependent on many different factors and variables. Here are things I’ve observed in my 10 years as a sleep consultant:
- Breastfeeding babies tend to take longer to sleep through the night than formula-fed babies. Formula takes longer to digest than breastmilk so breastfeeding babies tend to need more feedings in a 24-hour period than formula-fed babies.
- Babies with health issues (particularly health issues that involve weight-gain problems) may take longer to sleep through the night. They should continue to eat at night to maintain proper health. Babies with reflux sometimes eat smaller meals so need more feedings in a 24-hour period, too.
- Premature babies may sleep through the night later than full-term babies, since babies born prematurely generally need a bit more time to catch up with developmental milestones.
- Temperament has a big impact on sleeping through the night. Stubborn, intense babies may be more likely to cling to their nighttime feedings and be reluctant to change their sleeping patterns.
- Babies with strong sleep associations may take longer to sleep through the night, simply because those sleep associations may take longer to overcome.
- Families who bed-share intentionally can usually expect their babies to sleep through the night later than babies who sleep in their own cribs or bedside bassinets.
How To Help Your Baby Sleep Through The Night
If you believe your baby is ready to sleep through the night, but is still waking several times per night, then it might be time to consider sleep training.
While it’s true that some babies will eventually sleep through the night on their own, many babies need help learning how. You can help your baby or toddler sleep through the night by weaning him away from his sleep associations and helping him learn to fall asleep without help from you. Then, you will be on your way to sleep-filled nights!
The thing is, this process (of un-learning sleep associations, and learning to fall asleep without help) is tough for some babies – and so, by extension, it’s tough for their moms and dads, too! If you have tried sleep coaching on your own, but with no luck, why not try a personalized consultation from The Baby Sleep Site®? Your consultation will allow you to work one-on-one with an expert sleep consultant. Your consultant will craft a Personalized Sleep Plan® just for your family, walk you through each step of implementing the plan at home, and then will support you throughout the process.
Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to log in and get started right away – no waiting!