New parents long for the first time their baby will sleep through the night. After all, it is often a parent’s #1 sleep goal. Babies need 14 to 17 hours of sleep each day so you would think it would be easy. Unfortunately, it can often seem impossible! In this post, learn when babies sleep through the night naturally and how to help your baby sleep better based on my experience as a sleep consultant of over 15 years.
What Is Sleeping Through The Night?
Medically speaking, a baby is “sleeping through the night” when they sleep for 5 hours without waking. And, most babies can sleep through the night using this definition by 3 to 4 months old.
However, most parents don’t care as much about when their baby sleeps until midnight!
They care about when they can put the baby down at an age-appropriate bedtime, sleep all night themselves, and see their baby’s smiling face in the morning.
The age your baby can truly sleep through the night will depend on a variety of factors. These include age, whether they are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, medical issues such as reflux, and any developmental leaps. Let’s explore further.
When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night for 11-12 hours?
Keep in mind that there is a difference between your baby waking at night for age-appropriate feedings versus waking every 1-2 hours. We expect night feedings but not excessive waking at any age past 6 weeks old.
Babies are sometimes developmentally capable of sleeping through the night for 11-12 hours at night as young as 4 months old. But the average age is 6 months old. Breastfeeding babies often nurse once at night until 9-10 months old, sometimes longer. While Formula-fed babies tend to night-wean completely by 4 to 6 months old.
Can newborns sleep through the night?
Can or should newborns sleep through the night? No, newborns won’t sleep through the night nor should they, because they have to eat frequently. Please review our Newborn Schedules by Week for more information.
Can 2-3 month olds sleep through the night?
Most 2-3 month olds can sleep in one long stretch of 3-5 hours and then wake every 3 hours, on average, after that. Some formula-fed babies will sleep in one 5-8-hour stretch. These babies are very good sleepers who take larger than average bottles for their age.
Can 4 month olds sleep through the night?
Some formula-fed 4 month olds are capable of sleeping 11-12 hours at night but most breastfeeding babies do not. Most breastfeeding 4 month olds will wake 2-3 times a night for a feeding.
Regardless of what type of milk a 4 month old gets, if your baby is going through the 4 month sleep regression, your baby is likely waking very frequently at night. Be sure to check out our 20 Crucial Tips to get through it.
Will 5-6 month olds sleep through the night?
Yes! Some 5-6 month olds will sleep through the night, especially formula-fed babies. This is a common age for many babies to begin sleeping a glorious 11-12 hours at night.
How to Help Your Baby Sleep Longer Naturally
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Of course, every baby is different! There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to a baby’s sleep. But, there are averages. The chart below is designed to give you an idea about your baby’s sleep so you can set appropriate expectations. You know your baby best and always consult your pediatrician to get the all-clear that your baby is ready to go all night without eating.
Average Baby Night Sleep Stretches By Age
|Breastfeeding Baby’s Longest Stretch of Sleep
|Formula-Fed Baby’s Longest Stretch of Sleep
You may also want to review our Baby Night Feedings Chart so you can see at-a-glance how many night feedings to expect at various ages.
Here are more details by age as well as links to sample schedules:
- Newborns need to wake every 2-3 hours to eat, so you should expect newborn babies to wake every few hours at night. This is normal – newborns need to eat frequently in order to grow and develop properly.
- 4 month old babies who are breastfed will need to eat 2-3 times during the 12-hour night stretch, but most 4 month olds can make it for one 5-hour stretch without eating at night. Formula-fed 4 month olds may have fewer nighttime feeds.
- 5 month – 6 month old babies who are breastfed will need 1-2 feedings during the 12-hour night stretch. Most babies this age can make it for at least one 5-hour stretch without eating. Formula-fed 5-6 month olds may wake less often for night feedings, and some formula-fed babies will be ready to night-wean by 6 months old.
- 7 month old babies who breastfeed may need 1 (possibly 2) feedings during the 12-hour night stretch. Babies at this age can generally do one 6-7 hour stretch without feeding at night. Formula-fed 7-month-olds will likely wake once per night if at all.
- 8 month – 9 month old babies who are breastfed may need 1 feeding during the 12-hour night stretch. Babies at this age can generally go for at least 8 hours without feeding at night. Some may be able to sleep 9 or 10-hour stretches without waking to feed. If your baby is still waking to feed by 9 months, we usually recommend an attempt at night weaning. Formula-fed babies are generally night-weaned by this point.
- 10 month, 11 month, and 12 month old babies who are breastfed can generally sleep at least 10 hours at night without feedings. Many are able to make it 12 hours without waking to eat. However, remember that it is still very normal for a 10-12 month old baby to wake once at night to feed, so if your baby still needs one night feeding at this age, don’t worry about it. 🙂 Formula-fed 10-12 month old babies will likely be able to sleep closer to 12 straight hours at night.
When Will Your Baby Sleep Through The Night?
All of the averages listed above can be helpful in providing a snapshot of a baby’s sleep patterns, but it still doesn’t answer your most pressing question: “When will my baby sleep through the night as in 11-12 hours?” Obviously, I can’t answer that in a blog article – your baby is unique, and when he or she sleeps through the night is dependent on many different factors! However, I can provide some general pointers and ideas.
Formula-fed babies tend to sleep through the night without any night feedings by 6 months old while breastfeeding babies tend to sleep through the night sometime between 6 and 10 months old.
There are some things to keep in mind as you try to predict when your baby will sleep through the night:
- Premature babies may sleep through the night later than full-term babies. Babies born prematurely generally need a bit more time to catch up with developmental milestones.
- Babies with health issues (particularly health issues that involve weight gain problems) may take longer to sleep through the night.
- Babies with strong sleep associations may take longer to sleep through the night, simply because those sleep associations will take longer to overcome. You will likely want to teach your baby healthy sleep habits. Healthy sleep habits can help your baby get through her sleep cycles without sleep associations that involve you.
- Temperament has a big impact on night sleep, too. Stubborn, intense babies may be more likely to cling to their nighttime feedings and be reluctant to change their sleeping patterns.
- Families who bed-share intentionally can usually expect their babies to sleep through the night later than babies who sleep in their own sleep spaces.
How To Help Your Baby Sleep Through The Night
If you know your baby is ready to sleep through the night – if she’s old enough, if she’s healthy, if you are confident that she is waking out of habit and not out of a need for nourishment – but she is still waking several times per night, then it might be time to consider sleep training. It’s true that some babies will learn to sleep through the night on their own, without any help from mom and dad. But many babies need a helping hand to get there. 😉 You can help your baby or toddler sleep through the night by weaning them away from sleep associations and helping them learn to fall asleep without help from you. Then, you will be on your way to sleep-filled nights!
You May Also Be Interested In
- Sleep Regressions – Learn everything you need to know about sleep regressions
- Baby Night Feedings – Review our Baby Night Feedings Chart to determine how many night feedings you can expect. Includes info for breastfeeding or formula-feeding babies.
- Reasons for Night-Waking – Learn the Top 15 Reasons Your Baby Wakes at Night