It’s the question on the minds of all new mamas: when do babies start sleeping through the night? Here’s what to expect ‒ and what you can do to help.
But when you’re operating on a couple of hours of shut-eye, one milestone, in particular, feels pretty important.
So when do babies start sleeping through the night?!
That’s what we’re here to find out.
And we’ll explore what you can do to help your little one ‒ and you! ‒ get a good night’s rest.
In this article: 📝
- At what age do babies sleep through the night without feeding?
- Can a 2-month-old sleep through the night?
- Should a 3-month-old sleep through the night?
- How do I get my baby to sleep longer at night?
- When do babies sleep 12 hours straight?
- When do babies sleep through the night? The bottom line
At what age do babies sleep through the night without feeding?
When do babies start sleeping through the night? And what do we even mean by that?
We’re talking here about at least six hours of uninterrupted slumber.
And that’s a delicious six hours for you to get some quality rest as well!
Newborns aren’t able to sleep for this long because their tummies are tiny.
That means they can’t hold much food and need frequent feeds.
They also don’t understand the difference between day and night.
After all, it’s pretty much the same inside your uterus!
That means their arms jerk in response to things like loud noises, often waking them up.
All this means newborns will sleep for only two to four hours at a time.
But as they grow, they need feeding less often.
Their startle reflex subsides.
And they get used to this whole day-night thing. Yay!
So when can you expect all that to happen?
For others, it’s six months or longer.
For others, it’s twelve months (some toddlers may even need a quick nighttime feed depending on what their daytime nutrition looks like).
And while all this answers the question of “When can babies sleep through the night?” that’s not quite the same as “When do babies sleep through the night?”.
Just because your little one is theoretically capable of sleeping straight through, it doesn’t mean they will.
Can a 2-month-old sleep through the night?
As we’ve seen, hunger is one of the key things that limit your little one’s sleeping time.
But by the time they’re six months old, some babies can go 4-5 hours without a feed, others may not.
So how long should a 2-month-old sleep at night without eating?
One study from 2010 suggested that most 2-month-old babies could sleep through the night without feeding.
But wait before you break out the champagne!
Other research suggests the picture is more complex.
A Canadian study from 2018 found that a high proportion of much older babies weren’t sleeping all night.
38% of 6-month-olds were getting less than six consecutive hours of sleep.
And 57% of 6-month-olds slept for less than 8 hours.
Another component of sleeping longer stretches is your baby’s temperament.
Easy-going babies tend to sleep better than babies who are more sensitive.
Should a 3-month-old sleep through the night?
Just as with 2-month-olds, sleeping times for 3-month-old babies are largely defined by feeding and temperament.
So if you’re wondering how long should a 3-month-old sleep without eating, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
For most babies of this age, you won’t need to wake them to feed them.
But every baby is different, and your pediatrician will advise if your little one needs extra nutrition.
It’s still best to feed on demand overnight.
If your baby wakes and takes a full feed, they are hungry.
Some mamas also swear by “dream feeds,” a final feed just before they turn in for the night.
The idea is to top up your little one’s calories, so they sleep longer ‒ and so can you!
But this doesn’t work for everyone.
If your baby struggles to get back to sleep after a dream feed, don’t feel bad about ditching it.
How do I get my baby to sleep longer at night?
There are plenty of things besides dream feeds you can try to get your baby to sleep longer.
Establish a bedtime routine
A bedtime routine helps your baby understand when it’s nighttime ‒ aka time for a longer sleep!
Try to put your little one to bed at about the same time each night (you may need to wake them from their last nap to achieve this).
You may also be able to put them down drowsy but awake (a lot of babies will not do this, and that’s okay).
Create the best environment for sleep
A restful environment is just as effective for your little one as it is for you!
To create one, switch off TVs, phones, and computers before bedtime.
Dim lights in the bedroom help their bodies key into their natural sleep rhythms.
Blackout lining for drapes can help if it’s still light when your baby goes down.
White noise machines are also helpful to cue that sleep is coming and help with linking sleep cycles.
Try to make sure the room isn’t too hot too.
Some experts recommend a room temperature of between 61 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Figure out your baby’s unique sleep needs for optimal nighttime sleep
Daytime sleep and nighttime sleep can be a bit of a balancing act.
If your baby sleeps too much or too little during the day, it can affect how well they sleep overnight.
Baby sleep expert, Alicia Dyshon. recommends nailing down your baby’s unique wake windows first.
She suggests using “age-appropriate” wake windows as a guideline, adjusting to find the sweet spot for sleep consolidation.
Next, you’ll want to experiment with increasing and decreasing your daytime sleep totals to help with nighttime sleep consolidation (yes, it’s okay to wake a sleeping baby).
When do babies sleep 12 hours straight?
When you’re struggling to get three hours in a row, a baby that sleeps for twelve hours straight can seem like a distant dream.
Yet by the time your little one hits the one-year mark, they may be sleeping 10-12 hours straight.
However, it is still very normal for your baby to not be.
A lot of toddlers will still wake at night.
So if your baby isn’t achieving that magic 10-12 hours, try not to sweat it.
It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong.
When do babies sleep through the night? The bottom line
It’s not surprising that sleep-deprived mamas regularly ask, “When do babies sleep through the night?”.
But the truth is, there are no hard and fast rules here.
Recommendations about how long babies should sleep have changed over time.
A study in 2012 found that recommended sleeping times had declined over the years.
One thing, though, stayed the same: babies consistently slept 37 minutes less than whatever time was recommended!
So there’s no normal here that applies across the board.
We know a straight answer would be nice ‒ particularly if you’re currently surviving on minimal zzzs.
Take comfort in the fact that this phase will pass.
And if you need support along the way, your Peanut community has your back.
Join us. You don’t have to do this alone.