“Am I ever going to sleep through the night again?”

Hi + welcome to life with a baby!

One of the biggest struggles new parents face is, in fact, baby sleep. Having a baby is a beautiful, joyful experience. Bringing new life into this world is like nothing else.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

Between the sleepless nights, extreme sleep deprivation, and lack of feeling like oneself, having a baby doesn’t always feel fun.

Some days it might feel flat out overwhelming. Some nights you might feel like you don’t even like being a mom.

(And no – that doesn’t make you a bad mom!)

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If you landed on this post and you’re wondering “will my baby ever sleep?” I’m here to help you learn how to help your baby – who attests sleep – start to sleep longer and longer until they’re finally sleeping through the night. (Yes – sleep is something that’s learned.)

(While having a baby who sleeps through the night would be AWESOME, right now that might feel like an impossible task. So, let’s start with learning how to get your baby to sleep longer at night and during naps. Maybe not through the night just yet – but at least a bit longer.)

One of the most challenging things new parents face is baby sleep, so I’ve gone ahead and tackled the big baby sleep question, “when will my baby sleep longer?”. My hopes are that through this post you’ll learn everything about how to get your baby to sleep longer at night, at what age/weight it’s okay for your baby to sleep through the night, and how you can make sleep easier on both you and your baby.

For the first few months of my son’s life, I found myself wondering “when will my baby sleep longer?”. I read all the articles, books, and posts on baby sleep but we still struggled with it.

I talked to people who were claimed to be “baby sleep experts” and learned all their tricks, the tips they gave me made sense and sounded logical, but when I went to implement them on MY son, they didn’t work at all.

I was drowning in hopelessness and stuck wondering if I, as a new mom, would ever get a good night’s sleep again.

On top of my baby being an awful sleeper, just a couple short weeks after being born he got colic, and just like that our worlds got even more confusing. My husband and I didn’t know what we were doing wrong that was causing our baby not to sleep, and now all of the sudden we had an inconsolable baby who refused to be comforted.

(It was a long, long ride, but we made it.)

Even though we swore we would never do it, shortly after our son got colic we started co-sleeping.

We didn’t want to co-sleep, but we decided that our sleep was more important than what we thought we did or didn’t want (before we became parents), and once we started co-sleeping, we were finally able to get about 2 hour stretches of sleep every night, rather than 45 minutes to an hour at a time. That extra hour felt GLORIOUS.

But, eventually, that extra hour didn’t feel so glorious. We were still sleep-deprived, and only sleeping for 2-hour stints at night, then waking up for an hour or more, didn’t leave us feeling refreshed like we hoped it would.

And that’s when I started diving even deeper into baby sleep. I was serious about getting serious about it this time.

✅ I got this book on baby sleep and read it from cover to cover, making a baby sleep plan and charting our progress.

We haven’t solved all of our sleep problems, but they are getting better. Baby boy is starting to sleep longer stretches at night and we’re feeling better and better each day.

If you’re an exhausted mom who is sleep deprived thinking you’ll never sleep again, read on to learn the best baby sleep tips to help you learn how to get your baby to sleep at night.

(You’ve got this, mama!)

When do breastfed babies sleep through the night?

If you’re breastfeeding, chances are you’ve heard that breastmilk digests faster than formula, which causes a breastfed baby to typically wake up more throughout the night than a formula-fed baby.

When I learned this, after getting weeks of very little sleep, I was tempted to give up breastfeeding altogether. I wondered if breastfeeding was worth it or if I should just switch to formula so I could get some more sleep (on top of being sleep deprived, I was also struggling with breastfeeding. If you struggle with breastfeeding, too, click here).

Breastmilk typically digests in 2 hours – so it’s no wonder why your little baby with a stomach the size of an egg (at one month old) is waking up hungry throughout the night.

You should be able to expect your breastfed baby to start sleeping through the night (6 – 8 hours of sleep without waking up is considered “sleeping through the night” at this point) by three months old.

While there may be some breastfed babies who sleep through the night much earlier than the three month mark, it is completely normal (and expected) for the vast majority of babies to sleep in shorter stints and wake up to eat several times throughout the night.

What is considered sleeping through the night for a baby?

You want your baby to sleep through the night, but first, you need to know what’s considered sleeping through the night for babies, since it varies with age.

You can’t expect your 1 week old to sleep 13 hours at night without waking up once. At 1 week, a baby’s stomach is about the size of an apricot, so as you can imagine, even if they get a full feeding right before bed, that milk is going to digest pretty quickly and they’re going to wake up hungry in a matter of a couple of hours.

What is sleeping through the night for a baby?

Get ready for rough sleep for the first 6 months

If your baby is under 6 months they are still developing very rapidly, which means they need to refuel often to help with their development. And, if that refueling is coming from you (breastfeeding moms), then waking up at least a couple times each night to feed your baby is something you can count on for their first 6 months.

As a newborn, your baby will likely only sleep for stretches of about 3 hours before waking up to “refuel” their system.

So, for the first 6 months postpartum, you can expect sleepless nights. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who has been blessed with a “good sleeper”!

But, if you’re here, reading this post about baby sleep problems, I think it’s safe to assume that you don’t have a “good sleeper” on your hands. In that case, it’s important to know that you’re not alone.

Having a baby who isn’t a good sleeper doesn’t mean you’re necessarily doing anything wrong, sometimes it may just be a matter of straightening out your baby’s days and nights, but most times it’s just a sign that your baby is waking up in a dark, unfamiliar room, and wants to be held close in the safety of your arms.

(I know it’s hard to do when you’re sleep deprived and just want a couple more minutes of shut-eye, but try to treasure these moments. Before you know it your baby will be grown and will no longer need to feel the security of being held in your arms.)

Related: How to Get Your Baby to Sleep On Their Own Without a Fight

Here are some typical lengths that babies may sleep at night, according to their age:

Newborn

Newborns will typically sleep up to 3 hours before waking up to feed. If your baby is breastfed, you can expect more frequent wake ups throughout the night than if your baby is formula fed. Formula digests slower than breastmilk, which leaves your baby feeling full longer so they don’t wake up as often to eat.

2 – 3 months old

Once your baby is a couple months old they should be able to sleep 5 to 6 hour stretches at night between feedings.

4 – 6 months

By the time your baby reaches the 4 – 6 month mark, they will comfortably be able to go through the entire night without needing to be fed, but that doesn’t mean they won’t still wake up and want to be fed or held.

Sometimes babies eat just for the comfort of it, even if they aren’t hungry, and if your baby struggles to fall asleep on their own when they wake up at night they will think they need your help to fall back asleep.

Want to learn even more about baby sleep…

💙 The SleepEasy Solution – the exhausted parent’s guide to getting your child to sleep from birth to age 5
💙 The Happiest Baby on the Block – the new way to calm crying and help your newborn sleep longer
💙 On Becoming Babywise – giving your infant the gift of nighttime sleep
💙 The No-Cry Sleep Solution – gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night
💙 The Gentle Sleep Book – a guide for calm babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers
💙 Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old – a step-by-step plan for baby sleep success

 

How heavy does my baby have to be to be able to sleep through the night?

So, while you can expect interrupted sleep through the night for (at least) the first 6 months of your baby’s life, there is a magic weight that can be the tipping point for when it’s considered “okay” or “safe” to start sleep training your baby to sleep through the entire night.

When can I let my baby sleep through the night without feeding?

Once your baby weights 12 pounds you can comfortably have them sleep through the night without having to feed them. At this point your baby has likely reached a healthy and steady weight gain and going through the night without a feeding won’t stump that (just ensure you’re giving them the extra milk they’re skipping at night during the day).

The 3 month mark is typically when you can start expecting your baby to sleep longer at night, and this is, for MOST babies, around the time they hit the 12 pound mark (though many babies will weigh less, while others weigh more, at three months. Each baby is different and will reach that weight at a different age). (Source

baby sleeping peacefully on bed

7 tips to help you get your baby to sleep longer at night

Now that you know when you can expect your baby to start sleeping longer at night on their own, you might find yourself feeling hopeless and thinking that waking every hour is your new reality for the next half of a year.

But, the good news is, even though your baby may not fully sleep through the night until 6 months, there are some things you can to do encourage your baby to sleep longer through the night (to help you get some much needed extra zzzzz’s).

Here are some baby sleep tips to get your baby to sleep longer (these are especially for you if you’re breastfeeding and waking up every few hours at night stuck wondering, “How do I get my breastfed baby to sleep longer at night?”):

1. Have a nighttime routine

If you don’t already have a nighttime routine, it’s time to make one. This book talks about the importance of a nighttime routine and how it helps your baby wind down and get ready to sleep longer than the length they sleep at naptime.

This helps your baby decipher the difference between daytime sleep and nighttime sleep, and encourages them to sleep deeper and longer at night.

A nighttime routine doesn’t have to be anything complex. Ours is as simple as this:

2. Dreamfeed

A dream feed is exactly what it sounds like – you take your sleeping baby and gently rouse them from their deep sleep, but don’t fully wake them. Once they’re awake enough to eat, you let them eat for a couple minutes until they fall back into their deep sleep, burp them, and set them down for the night.

The point of a dream feed is to help moms get a bit more sleep. If you’re putting your baby down for the night at 8 PM, but then are staying up another hour or two, there’s a good chance your baby is going to wake up from hunger pangs shortly after you fall asleep.

Whereas when you dream feed, you would put your baby down at 8, then when you go to bed, say 10, you would wake your baby just enough to eat, then set them back into their cradle with a full tummy so you can get a solid couple hours of sleep before waking up again.

3. Shorten nighttime feedings

You can shorten nighttime feedings by, when bottle feeding, putting an ounce or so less in the bottle for their middle-of-the-night-feedings, or shorten the amount of time they spend nursing by just a couple of minutes.

Each night do a little bit less than the last night, and before long your baby will be ready to give up that middle-of-the-night feeding altogether.

4. Increase daytime feedings

If your baby drinks a total of 32 ounces each day, increase the number of ounces they drink during the day, so they won’t need to drink as much during the night. Rather than feeding 4 ounces ever 3 hours around the clock, from 7 AM (or whenever you start your day) until 8 PM (or whenever you put your baby down for the night), try to do 7 feedings, which means you would be feeding just about every 2 hours throughout the day, which would be a total of 28 ounces. Then you should only have to wake up once during the night to give your baby their last 4 ounces for the day.

(If you don’t want to increase the frequency of feedings, you could stick to the same number of feedings throughout the day and try increasing the amount that your baby eats at each feeding.)

5. Give your baby time before feeding at night

Don’t go running to your baby’s side the moment they start stirring at night. Give them some time and see if they put themselves back to sleep or entertain themselves for a couple of minutes (anything to stretch out the length of time between feedings!).

Some baby’s don’t actually wake up when they start making noise – they can just be noisy sleepers. If that’s the case, then if you rush to their side as soon as they start making any noises, you could be the one who is waking them up, whereas they may have slept longer if left to themselves for a couple more minutes.

6. Skip nighttime diaper changes

If at all possible, skip as many nighttime diaper changes as you can. Unless, of course, your baby’s diaper is a mess and they need to be changed or they’ll have a blowout. Otherwise, try to stick with just feeding your little one as to not wake them completely up in the middle of the night and struggle to get them back to sleep.

7. Create some distance

Did you know that your baby can smell your scent even when they’re not right beside you? If your baby wakes up in the middle of the night and smells you, they’re going to let you know (very loudly) that they think they need to be fed – even if they’re not hungry. Or, they may smell you and just want to be held close to you.

Babies can smell their mother’s scent from several feet away, so if your baby’s cradle is right close to your bed, you could consider trying to move it across the room if you’re not ready to move baby into their own room (it is recommended to keep your baby in the same room as you until 6 months of age – after 6 months you can comfortably move baby into their own room).

We have a room with a large walk in closet, so we moved our son’s cradle (we use this cradle because it rocks, so we can rock him back to sleep without picking him up) into the walk-in closet to try having him sleep a bit further away from us. Some nights he sleeps a bit better, but it’s hard to tell if that’s because his cradle is further away from our bed or just because he’s getting older. Either way, it could be something to try with your little one.

(I’ve heard of many moms who happily reported that after moving their baby to a crib in a separate room, they were both sleeping a LOT better. We aren’t ready to move our son into his own room yet, but when we do I anticipate we’ll all get much better sleep.)

How to help your baby sleep easier

Here are a couple common things that work for parents to get their babies to sleep longer at night that you could give a try with your little one.

1. Swaddle

Babies have something called the Moro reflex where they feel like they’re falling – which is usually present in babies from newborn up to 3 or 4 months.

The Moro reflex causes babies to jerk their arms/legs out and often happens when they get a loss of support, but can also happen periodically throughout the day/night (thus, waking themselves up).

You may have already noticed your baby waking themselves up at night (or during the day) due to this reflex. If you have, the one thing you can do to help them stop waking up at night from their startle reflex is to swaddle them.

Swaddling your baby has many benefits, but for the sake of this point, it’s a way to help your baby feel like they have constant support all around their body, and keep their arms tucked in close.

After about a month of age it’s recommended that you don’t use blankets in your baby’s bed (as they can kick them onto their face but don’t have the ability to pull the covers off their face yet), so using a swaddle sleep sack like this one is a great alternative to swaddling with a blanket (which they can kick out of pretty quickly).

We got two of these swaddle sacks for our son, both of which allow us the option to tuck his arms in or leave them untucked.

2. White noise

Using white noise (whether you use a white noise machine or a fan like this one) allows a constant hum for your baby to listen to (just like in the womb) while blocking out any sleep-derailing noises like a barking dog, visitors, or loud vehicles driving down the street.

If babies can hear stuff going on outside their room, they’ll wake up thinking there’s a party that they aren’t a part of – and that’s not okay. The white noise machine helps block that noise out so they can sleep soundly, without being disturbed.

3. Don’t rush in

If your baby starts squawking or crying, give them a bit of time before rushing in to check on them. Sometimes babies will make noises in their sleep, or they will slightly rouse from sleep, make a few sounds, then put themselves right back to sleep.

If you rush in too soon, you could risk waking your baby up even more, when they were able to put themselves back to sleep on their own.

4. Put baby to bed before they are overtired

If you’re wondering “how do I get an overtired baby to sleep?” the answer is – you don’t.

(Well, not really.)

Getting an overtired baby to sleep is a LOT harder than getting a well-rested baby to sleep. To keep your baby from becoming overtired, watch out for their sleep cues, and as soon as you start to see the early sleep cues, get them into bed for their nap.

If you ignore these sleep cues and try to keep your baby up just a bit longer, they will quickly become overtired, and an overtired baby does.not.sleep.well.

An overtired baby will:

  • Have a hard time falling asleep
  • Will wake up more times throughout the night
  • Will wake up earlier than usual in the morning

It doesn’t make sense – if your baby is overtired, wouldn’t they sleep longer and better? That’s what you may think – but unfortunately, it’s absolutely not true.

A well-rested baby sleeps better.

Be sure you’re putting your baby down for bed and their naps before they get to the point of overtired to help them sleep better and easier.

Here are some early sleep cues (when you notice these sleep cues you’ll want to get your little one ready for bed):

  • Zoning out
  • Glazed eyes
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Skin around the eyes getting pink/red

I’m-already-tired sleep cues (when your baby does these sleep cues it means they should already be in bed):

  • Yawning
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Pulling at ears
  • Fussy
  • Closing fists

Overtired sleep cues (these sleep cues mean your baby is past the point of being tired and has gone into a state of being overtired):

  • Crying
  • Flailing of arms and legs
  • Arching back
  • Not easily consolable

Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know to help your baby get optimal sleep, you can rest assured knowing your long nights of not knowing what to do are well behind you.

Even if your baby still wakes up throughout the night, you know that you’ll be able to feed them and get them back to bed without too much of a fight.

If you’ve been co-sleeping or your baby struggles to go to sleep on their own without a fight, learn how to make baby sleep on his own, here. It’s the exact method I use to get my baby to sleep on his own without a fight.

 

Want to learn even more about baby sleep…

💙 The SleepEasy Solution – the exhausted parent’s guide to getting your child to sleep from birth to age 5
💙 The Happiest Baby on the Block – the new way to calm crying and help your newborn sleep longer
💙 On Becoming Babywise – giving your infant the gift of nighttime sleep
💙 The No-Cry Sleep Solution – gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night
💙 The Gentle Sleep Book – a guide for calm babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers
💙 Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old – a step-by-step plan for baby sleep success

 

I’d love to hear some of your baby sleep tips and how you get your baby to sleep longer at night!

Related:
14 Steps to Speed up Postpartum Recovery
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep on Their Own Without a Fight
10 Ways to Make Breastfeeding Easier (and hurt less)

baby sleeping peacefully baby sleep