When do babies sleep through the night? is the most commonly asked question in parenthood, especially for new parents! New mums and dads everywhere will agree that by far one of the most — if not the most — painful, uncomfortable, cumbersome, exhausting aspect of childrearing is — no, not childbirth — the sleep deprivation, especially during those first few months after a baby is born.
One recent study reports that new parents face up to six years of disrupted sleep. So, it’s no wonder that one of the most common questions new parents ask is, “when do babies start to sleep through the night?” Even though it seems like you’ll never ever sleep again, you don’t have to retire your sleeping mask just yet.
We’ve got the answer to this question for you, and we think you’ll quite like it!
How much sleep do babies need?
In order to have a better idea of when your child could start sleeping through the night, it’s important to know how much sleep a baby needs in general — during the day and at night-time. According to Stanford Children’s Health, babies should be sleeping, on average this many hours at night:
Newborn: 16 hours (8-9 night, 7-8 day)
1 month: 15.5 hours (8-9 night, 7 day)
3 months: 15 hours (9-10 night, 4-5 day)
6 months: 14 hours (10 night, 4 day)
9-18 months: 14 hours (11 night, 3 day)
18 months: 13.5 hours (11 night, 2.5 day)
24 months: 12-13 hours (11-12 night, 1-2 day)
These hours indicate total sleep in 24 hours, and don’t necessarily mean uninterrupted sleep. Of course, every baby has different sleep schedules, and some could start sleeping for longer stretches or less, sooner or later than what is the average, and this is not disconcerting, as long as it’s not too far off from the above ranges. If your child is sleeping much/less than the average, consult your GP.
When do babies start sleeping through the night?
Up until they are two months old, your newborn baby will wake you up (or perhaps you’ll need to wake the little sleepy-head up) in order to be fed every two to three hours. A newborn can sleep for a maximum of three hours at a stretch without food, so they’ll need to be fed two or three times during the night. Sleep cycles during the night can gradually increase from two months onwards as they can start going longer without food.
By the time the baby is three months old — perhaps even slightly earlier, they can sleep for four to five hours at a stretch. When the baby reaches four or five months, there won’t be any need for a middle-of-the-night feed, and they could well sleep for seven or eight hours at a time non-stop — the dream, right?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, by six months, the baby is physically able to sleep a full eight hours non-stop without eating.
When you’ve finished your little happy dance, read on. Just because the baby technically can sleep through the night, unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. There are many reasons that a child older than six months may wake up in the night.
For instance, a baby might not be hungry during the night, but are you hungry when you snack on popcorn while watching a film? No, it’s comfort and enjoyment.
Similarly, a baby loves feeding time with you; it’s one of their favourite things in the world! When the baby wakes up in the middle of the night, it tends to have one thing, and one thing alone, on its little mind; comfort grub!
It’s safe to say that you shouldn’t really expect to be able to sleep much during the night with a baby under six months (although there are a lucky few!), but after six months, there are some steps you can take so you can eventually get some much-needed shut-eye, and for your baby to start enjoying sleeping through the night too.
How to help baby learn to sleep through the night
What can you do to encourage your baby to sleep through once they are well past the needing-food-during-the-night stage? Here are eight tired-and-tested tips:
1) Babies should love their bedroom
One mistake a lot of new parents make is not getting the baby accustomed to their own bedroom. Come six months, they’ll try to put the baby to sleep in their room and meet great resistance.
If their bedroom is a room that they’ve never really even been in before, it’s logical they won’t have any pleasant memories in there and it could be quite daunting for them, especially if they have separation anxiety.
Even if you co-sleep for the first few months, try to spend time playing and chilling in their room before they make the transition to sleeping there, so that when the time comes to sleep train, they will recognise — and enjoy — their bedroom environment.
It’s important to remember that each child is different and you should discuss with your doctor if you are worried about your child’s sleeping habits, or any other questions you may have.