When Will My Baby Sleep Through the Night?
Updated Mar 13th 2023 | 9 min read
Updated Mar 13th 2023 | 9 min read
Written By Mandy Treeby Chief Baby Sleep Consultant
It is the question new parents ask the most: when do babies sleep through the night? Trust me, I completely understand because I’ve been there, too. To help you understand and navigate your baby’s sleep, this article answers the most common questions parents have about their baby’s sleep, including “Why won’t my baby sleep through the night?” and “When are babies ready to sleep train?”
As you read on, keep in mind that while babies will start sleeping more around 4 months, sleep training is a process that takes time. There are ups and downs and sometimes some brief backslides – all of which is normal and necessary for your baby’s healthy development.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
While you’re learning more about sleep training and how to help your baby get the rest they need, check out the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ and start your free sleep consultation.
Before proceeding, we have to say that no one, babies or adults, truly sleeps through the night. We all wake between sleep cycles, often to readjust our bodies or go to the bathroom – the difference is we know how to fall back to sleep.
Your baby is the same – even as they sleep train, they will wake between sleep cycles from time to time – but once they know how to fall asleep by themselves they will naturally default to that vs needing your support. Your goal therefore shouldn’t be so much “to get my baby to sleep through the night,” but to get your baby to be a strong independent sleeper and follow age-appropriate sleep schedules.
That said, let’s rephrase the question “When will my baby sleep through the night?” into “When will my baby sleep for longer periods?”
The answer: Babies begin to sleep for longer periods at night around 4 months.
Newborns’ sleep is very disorganized, and this is for two reasons:
Circadian rhythms are our “internal clock” that regulates our sleep cycles. Controlled by a series of hormones and daylight, the circadian rhythm begins to form around 4 months – a perfect time to start sleep training with the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers.
Developed by pediatric sleep experts and powered by proprietary AI, this incredible app will guide you through the entire sleep training process, from setting up a baby’s bedtime routine to dropping naps.
There are a few criteria or milestones you want to meet before sleep training your baby:
4 Months: You can start sleep coaching your baby around 4 months because that’s when their circadian rhythm is forming.
12 Pounds: We and other experts also suggest waiting until your baby is 12 lbs. before embarking on sleep training. You want to make sure your baby weighs enough to reduce night feedings and sleep for extended periods of times. Also, be sure to confirm with your pediatrician that your baby has gained enough weight to sleep train.
Social smiles show that your baby understands patterns. In this case, they see you or someone else they love, remember that this person brings love and warmth, and this makes them happy.
The reason pattern recognition matters in sleep training is because when you sleep train, you will create a predictable pattern of behavior that “cues” your baby it’s time to sleep. The social smile shows that your baby is developed enough to understand this pattern, too.
When you sleep train your baby, you’re aligning their sleep schedule with their natural circadian rhythm. In doing so, you do two things.
Another common question we’re asked: why do babies wake so often at night? And there are a few possible reasons your baby may wake at night.
They’re Hungry: Babies are growing super-fast and need to eat often to meet their developmental milestones.
They Need a Diaper Change: If your baby wakes for a diaper change, definitely change them. If you do a “check in” before you go to bed and see their diaper is soiled with poop, definitely change their diaper. If your baby’s diaper is simply wet with urine, you can leave it until the morning if their diaper is absorbent.
They Want Comfort: Your baby is new to the world and may need a bit of extra comfort during the long night. This is fine pre-sleep training, but we recommend not checking on your baby during sleep training unless they are sick, in pain, or screaming uncontrollably.
They’re Learning: Your baby’s circadian rhythm is still forming – in fact, it won’t begin to really take shape until around 4 months.
If your baby wakes in the night during sleep training, they may be ready to drop a nap, may be going through a sleep regression, or are experiencing some separation anxiety – all of which we explain here and in the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™.
Newborns should be fed “on demand.” That is, if they wake up crying for food, feed them ASAP.
The practice of feeding your baby at night when they’re still half-asleep is called dream feeding. It’s an effective way to help your baby get the rest and food they need.
Dream feeding happens between the newborn stage and the 3–4-month mark. We explain how to dream feed in our article “ How to Successfully Dream Feed Your Baby”.
Even after this point, though, your baby will still require night feedings.
Somewhere between 5 and 9 months, every baby is different though and some babies may manage to sleep through the night without a feed sooner, some may take a little longer. It is important to check with your pediatrician before night weaning.
While babies will start to sleep for longer periods around 4 months – especially if they’re sleep trained – there are a few completely natural periods when your baby may wake up in the night, struggle to fall asleep, or actively resist sleep.
Here are common scenarios to be aware of:
Sleep Regressions: Every few months you may notice that your baby wakes up randomly in the night or has trouble falling asleep. These are technically called “sleep regressions,” we prefer to call these periods “sleep progressions” because they coincide with your baby’s major developmental milestones.
What happens is your baby learns a new skill – for example, sitting up – and this can be very exciting for them – far more exciting than sleep – and they may wake up to practice. Rest assured these sleep progressions are brief and can be minimized.
For help thriving through these admittedly frustrating periods, check out our article “ How to Cope with Your Baby’s Sleep Regressions”.
The Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ also has excellent advice on minimizing sleep regressions – plus 1-click sleep tracking that automatically updates your baby’s sleep schedule to ensure they get the rest they need for their age.
While every baby is different, common sleep regression ages include:
Nap Transitions: As your baby ages and their circadian rhythm takes shape, they’ll require less naps. Sometimes your baby will drop a nap on their own. For example, around the 4-to-3 transition they may simply stop taking that final nap.
If your baby is struggling to fall asleep at night or waking up during their last nap of the day, they may be ready for a nap transition.
Here’s a chart of when most babies complete their nap transitions:
3 – 4 months
5 → 4 naps
15 – 18 months
For help on dropping your baby’s naps, check out our article “ When Do Babies Stop Napping?” Also, the 1-click sleep tracking tool in the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ will automatically update your baby’s sleep schedule and will let you know when a sleep transition is approaching.
Separation Anxiety: It is completely normal for babies to experience separation anxiety around 6-8 months – in fact, it’s a good thing! Separation anxiety in babies shows that they’re learning object permanence: that objects and people exist even when your baby can’t see them. While this is a positive development, it can lead to some sleep disruptions.
As with other sleep transitions, though, separation anxiety can be minimized if you follow our advice on “ How to Cope with Separation Anxiety in Babies”.
Babies typically begin teething between 6-12 months, starting a process that can last until they’re 2-years-old. Sometimes teething will distract your baby from falling asleep or lead to some night wakings. Rest assured there are easy ways to help a teething baby sleep, including revisiting your baby’s sleep coaching method.
(The Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ will customize a sleep coaching method that works for your baby and you. Take a free sleep assessment to get started today.)
In addition to helping your baby learn to fall asleep independently and sleep for longer periods, sleep coaching has other benefits for babies:
Read more about how sleep coaching sets your baby up for success.
And for even more insights and guidance on helping your baby sleep through the night, download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™. It is absolutely stacked with mini-articles, step-by-step guides, and moral support for parents embarking on the sleep training journey. Any question you have, it answers – all so you can rest easy as you teach your baby how to fall asleep solo and sleep for longer stretches of time.
If your baby is older than 4 months, we suggest sleep training to help your baby sleep for longer periods. Sleep training gently aligns your baby’s sleep schedule with their natural circadian rhythm to help your baby get the sleep they need and help them learn to fall asleep alone and sleep for longer periods.
If your baby is younger than 4 months, they will need more time before they’re ready to sleep for longer periods at night.
No. Two-month-olds are still growing fast and need to eat often. Most 2-month-olds will wake on their own to eat. If your baby doesn’t wake to eat at night, dream feed them every 2-3 hours if they’re breastfed or every 3-4 hours if they’re formula fed.
Yes and no. No, babies do not “sleep through the night.” They wake often for feedings, diapers, and/or natural sleep regressions. No. Babies will wake often for feedings or diaper changes. But, yes, babies can sleep for longer periods at night if they’re older than 4 months and are properly sleep trained. Even with sleep training, though, your baby’s sleep coaching journey takes many months – that may sound like a lot but remember that the benefits of sleep coaching last for years: well-rested babies are more emotionally balanced, learn better, and have lower rates of obesity.
While babies can sleep for longer stretches of time after 4 months, all babies will require periodic night check-ins as they grow. That said, if you’re sleep training and your baby cries out at night, we suggest waiting a moment to see if they settle themselves back down. Often times a baby will self-soothe within a few minutes. If your baby continues to cry or sounds distressed, check on them.
“How Sleep Works: Your Sleep/Wake Cycle,” National Institutes of Health.
“Development of the circadian system in early life: maternal and environmental factors,” Journal of Physiological Anthropology.
“Sleep and sleep ecology in the first 3 years,” Journal of Sleep Research.
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.