When do babies sleep through the night? We get asked this question a lot and it’s a great one! If you’re wondering when you can let your baby sleep through the night, you are likely tired of waking up multiple times a night to go help your baby get back to sleep.

If this is you, put your mind at ease, because you’re in the right place.

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When should your baby begin sleeping through the night?

You’ve heard of those babies who sleep through the night all on their own at 6 weeks.

They’re anomalies. 

You understand that newborn sleep can be unpredictable, and that’s normal. But there’s a lingering fear in the back of your mind that your baby will never sleep all night in their own bed.

Know that this is not true, and your baby will definitely sleep in their own bed one day!

You want your baby to sleep through the night. Also, you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing for your baby.

You want to be safe, first and foremost, and of course you don’t want to force your baby to grow up too fast.

So, when can you let your baby sleep through the night?

How young is too young?

When do babies sleep through the night…as newborns? No, newborns aren’t capable of sleeping through the night just yet. The primary reason for this is that their bodies are in a period of rapid growth.

Your baby’s brain grows 1% bigger every day during the first three months of life. By the time your baby turns 3, their brain will be about 80% of its adult size.

Every single experience your baby has results in new brain connections. So, their little brains and bodies are developing at such a high rate, and they need calories around the clock.

The newborn phase lasts a minimum of 12 weeks, but can technically last for up to 16 weeks.

Up until this point, their sleep is going to be pretty unpredictable. You can’t count on any one nap being a certain length.

It’s totally normal for newborns to take some shorter naps and some longer naps.

They are still learning how to regulate their body clocks. Additionally, they have little growth spurts which may make them more hungry on a given day. As a result, they may need more frequent calories throughout the day. If you have a newborn, check out our FREE Newborn eBook and our 5 Newborn Sleep Tips Every Mom Should Know

When do babies sleep through the night?

Ok are you ready for it? When do babies sleep through the night? Here it is…

Once a baby is about 15 weeks old, their ability to self-soothe develops. And this is the point they can begin to understand how to fall asleep independently. This is the first step to your baby being able to sleep through the night!

What is self-soothing?

When we say a baby is able to self-soothe, we are referring to their ability to regulate their state of arousal. As an example, a baby who is able to go from crying to lying quietly without parental assistance has just practiced self-soothing.

Babies who are able to self-soothe have the main precursor needed to develop healthy sleep-wake patterns.

Sleep-wake patterns follow a relatively predictable flow over the first year of life.{1} The total amount of sleep needed in a 24-hr period remains relatively the same, but the type of sleep your baby experiences throughout the night shifts.

As babies get closer to a year old, the percentage of sleep that is active (REM sleep) decreases and the amount of quiet sleep (NREM) increases.2

Why do some babies sleep through the night sooner than others?

The point at which a baby learns to self-soothe is dependent on many factors that relate to each other.

It would be wonderful if we had a list of reasons babies fall asleep on their own, or a quick how-to manual, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. 

A lot of things contribute to how a baby learns to transition from being awake to being asleep without assistance.

Some factors are external to the baby, such as their crib location, whether or not they use a sleep aid, parenting styles, level of attachment, and caregiver interventions.

Other factors that contribute to how a baby learns to self-soothe are internal, like the baby’s temperament, the percentage of sleep that is REM versus NREM, and the state a baby is in when they fall asleep at bedtime.{2}

Am I preventing my baby from sleeping through the night?

Many parents want to know what it is they are specifically doing to cause their baby to lose sleep at night, or not be able to fall asleep independently. 

Obviously, there are many factors simply out of your control.

Your baby is a miniature adult. Just like you may have two co-workers with very different personalities, your baby’s personality is their own, and they may simply be a more temperamental person.

Even within the same family, there are some children that sleep really well all on their own, and others that have more trouble.

It’s not uncommon for first children to sleep perfectly, and for parents to be blind-sided when baby #2 (or 3 or 4!) is not a fan of sleep.

So it’s important to understand first, that many times it has nothing to do with you at all.

How early can I teach my baby to sleep through the night?

As mentioned above, infants in the newborn stage of life are not able to self-soothe and do need external help to get to sleep.

Once a baby is about 15 weeks old, they’re able to start regulating their wake and sleep cycles, and their body clocks start to get more regular.

They will very likely still need to feed at least once through the night at 15 weeks, but that won’t hinder their ability to learn to self-soothe.

Your baby will learn to wake up when it’s time for a feed, and independently go right back to sleep.

Once your baby reaches a sufficient weight to be able to get all their calories during the day (usually 15 pounds), they will often begin sleeping through the night, and drop night feeds on their own.

We work with families to help babies learn the skill of falling asleep independently in just 2 weeks.

Can babies learn to self-soothe if they’re older?

The good news in all of this is that whether your child is 4 months or 24 months, there is hope for their sleep.

Sleeping through the night starts with teaching your child to self-soothe, no matter how old they are. Self-soothing is a skill that can be taught, which is exactly what we do.

We work with children up to 8 years old and successfully help parents teach their children to sleep through the night independently. Older children have had more time to get “set in their ways”, so we spend 3 weeks together to reach your family’s sleep goals.

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How to teach your baby to self-soothe

Wouldn’t it be nice if all babies magically learned how to self-soothe on their own?

Unfortunately this is not the case, so sometimes we need to step in and help them out. The most important factor in teaching a baby to sleep through the night is putting them into the crib wide awake.

Babies who are placed into their cribs awake are more likely to learn to self-soothe.{3} Babies who are able to self-soothe experience longer stretches of sleep at night and also more total night time sleep.

A solid bedtime routine is a crucial part of how your baby learns to sleep through the night. However, how you respond to them when they wake in the middle of the night, when they wake up early in the morning, and even what you do before and after naps is all important.

The step-by-step process of teaching your baby to self-soothe and fall asleep independently is very detailed. We spend about an hour on the phone with mamas every day explaining exactly how to do this.

Changing Sleep Habits Doesn’t Happen Overnight

If your baby is used to falling asleep a certain way, teaching them a new way will take some time, and consistent effort on your part.

We see babies start sleeping through the night in as little as three nights using our program.

What this means for you, Mama, is more restful nights for you and your baby too!

Teaching your little one to sleep independently is truly a gift 

More sleep for your baby means better development, a better mood, and better health all around. It also leads to happier parents and lower levels of stress in the home.

Are you ready to get started and learn how to get your baby sleeping through the night?

If so, schedule your free 15-minute discovery call here. We will discuss how sleep is going in your home and determine whether or not we can help you!

We love working with families of all shapes and sizes, so whether you’re a first time mom who needs sleep help, or a seasoned Dad of four, we’ve got you covered!

We can’t wait to help you!

Kaley Medina

References

 

1 https://www.livescience.com/47298-babies-amazing-brain-growth.html

2 Burnham, M. M., Goodlin-Jones, B. L., Gaylor, E. E., & Anders, T. F. (2002). Nighttime sleep-wake patterns and self-soothing from birth to one year of age: a longitudinal intervention study. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines, 43(6), 713–725. https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-7610.00076

3 Goodlin-Jones, B. L., Burnham, M. M., Gaylor, E. E., & Anders, T. F. (2001). Night waking, sleep-wake organization, and self-soothing in the first year of life. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP, 22(4), 226–233. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004703-200108000-00003