Life with a newborn can make you feel like a bona-fide member of the living, walking dead. It’s normal to wonder if you’ll ever re-enter the land of the sleeping and transform from zombie to human again. The answer, of course, is yes you will. Eventually, baby will learn to sleep through the night naturally, and you’ll get to luxuriate in some serious shut-eye. But at what age do babies sleep through the night? Don’t expect baby to go from short sleeping sessions to 12-hour snooze-fests right away. Instead, she’ll gradually hit developmental milestones that make her ready to sleep for longer stretches at a time. Read on to learn when babies sleep the whole night—plus tips for getting baby to sleep through the night on her own.
When Do Babies Sleep Through The Night?
The truth is, there’s no magic age when babies sleep through the night—every baby is different. But around the four-month mark, important developmental milestones can totally change the baby sleep game and help babies sleep the whole night.
Now, to be clear, when we’re talking about babies sleeping through the night, we don’t mean to suggest baby is suddenly down for double-digit hours. What we’re referring to is baby not waking up crying in the middle of night or needing a nighttime feeding for a stretch of five to six hours or more. This doesn’t necessarily mean that baby won’t want to be fed (or be snuggled or have an audience for new tricks he’s learning, like rolling), only that he may not need additional sustenance in order to make it ’til his morning meal.
Here’s what that baby sleep progression looks like. As early as the first month of life, babies start to understand the difference between what happens during the day versus what happens at night, especially with help from parents who initiate more active play during the day and less energetic play in the evening. A newborn will sleep about 10 to 18 hours a day in total—but might sleep anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours at a time. Even by month three, there’s still a wide range of how long baby typically sleeps at night. Unfortunately, it’s a baby sleep myth that infants should sleep the whole night at 12 weeks. If it happens, consider yourself lucky. But for most babies, they may not sleep through the night for another month or two or—ouch—three. And that doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.
“There’s a huge range for when babies sleep through the night,” says Kira Ryan, cofounder of Dream Team Baby, a baby sleep consultancy, and coauthor of the book The Dream Sleeper: A Three-Part Plan for Getting Your Baby to Love Sleep. “It could be anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 months, but usually around 4 months, sleep starts to consolidate.” This is typically when babies begin to self-soothe and put themselves back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night. Their physical coordination and cognitive abilities have developed enough that they can recall something they find comforting, like sucking their thumb or rubbing their feet together, and use it to help them fall back to sleep, Ryan says.
Ultimately, by 9 months, most babies (70 to 80 percent, according to the National Sleep Foundation can sleep through the night without eating. That means about 9 to 12 hours of blissful, uninterrupted rest for you.
Getting Baby to Sleep Through the Night
In the quest for getting baby to sleep through the night, sleep training is key. It’s the process used to help baby learn to fall asleep on her own—and stay asleep. There are many different approaches to nighttime parenting, but here are some baby sleep training basics every parent should know, plus some baby sleep advice to help get baby sleeping through the night naturally.
Where should baby sleep?
Baby’s sleep area should be in the same room as his parents for at least the first 6 months of life, up to 1 year, if possible, according to a 2016 recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Whether it’s in a bassinet, crib, portable crib or play yard, room-sharing (but not bed-sharing) with baby can decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by up to 50 percent.
How should baby sleep?
The AAP recommends babies sleep on their backs, on firm sleep surfaces,…