skip to Main Content

When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night? Learn the Golden Rule of Amazing Sleep

When Do Babies Sleep Through The Night? Learn The Golden Rule Of Amazing Sleep

When do babies sleep through the night?  I get this question a lot.

As easy as a question it is, it’s not that easy of a question to answer.  Why?  Because there are follow up questions and sometimes at a play-date, grocery store, birthday party when parents are asking it, it’s hard to give the full answer.  

But, now that we have the time, let me ask the following questions:

1) Can your baby put themselves to sleep independently or self-soothe?

2) What is your baby’s overall schedule?

So, When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night?

Once I know the answer to those questions, I can at least give the appropriate answer. Wait for it…

The Golden Rule of Great Sleep… and I’m talking, sleeping through the night, well-rested, happy baby sleep is this:

“Amazing sleep (meaning a baby will sleep through the night) is a combination of 1) strong self soothing skills 2) an age appropriate nap schedule and 3) a bedtime at the right time.”

You can have one component down but until you focus on all three components, many babies will not be in the amazing sleep club.

And, becoming a card-carrying member of the amazing sleep club is really a special time!

So let’s break the golden rule of great sleep down:

1) Strong self-soothing skills:

This is the big one.  The Cadillac of components for great sleep.  This means that your baby can transfer sleep cycles on her own.  (You may have heard about the term sleep training, which teaches your baby these independent skills – check this out this post to learn more)

It’s OK that your baby wakes up, but when she does, she can go back to sleep on her own (or self-soothe) without a bottle/boob/paci/swinging/rocking or shushing. (Feel free to add any of your get-your-baby-back-to-sleep gestures).  

Self-soothing means your baby can fall back asleep on their own.  Independently.  Without you.

 2) Age Appropriate Nap Schedule:

A baby will sleep an average amount of time during the day and we strive for them to sleep about 11-12 hours per night.  The schedule is determined by the number of naps and total sleep that your baby requires and the timing that he can handle before becoming overtired.

sleep needs by age | how much sleep does your baby need | #babysleep #toddlersleep #sleep

For babies younger than 4-6 months, I always encourage keeping wake periods short until their natural sleep rhythms emerge at which time you can work on a by-the-clock schedule.  

Regardless, of whether you follow a flexible waketime schedule or a by the clock schedule – it’s the consistency and the routine of enabling your child to remain well rested.

3) A Bedtime At The Right Time:

A late bedtime might have worked when your baby was a wee-one but that late bedtime stops working as your baby becomes more aware and sleep begins to organize (somewhere around 4 months if not before).

It is so important that you keep your baby well-rested before bed and it is equally as easy to push your baby’s bedtime wayyyy too late, especially with working parents, other kids and just life in general.  

But, don’t do it – and I know it sounds crazy for some, but bring the bedtime earlier!   Most babies go to sleep around 6 – 8pm but really I rarely see a baby with a bedtime later than 7pm, especially on a 2 nap schedule.

Here are general guidelines of waketimes to guide you from how long your baby is up between their last nap and bedtime.  These times reflect the time that your baby is SLEEPING, so make sure to put them in the crib earlier to account for the time to fall asleep independently.

6-12 Months:  Waketime from the last nap to bedtime: 2.5 hours to 3.5 hours

12-24 Months: Waketime from the last nap to bedtime: 3 hours to 4 hours

Typically 4 hours is as long as it takes before your baby is overtired but many babies can’t even make it that long of a stretch.

Gauge bedtime by tired signs and the quality of naps during the day.  Also, try and hone on the waketime that your baby can handle.  

If you are consistently getting 40 minute intruders or your child has trouble settling, it’s a pretty good indication the bedtime is too late.  Keeping a sleep log is also a great way to figure out the magical times that yield the best overnight sleep.

Conclusion:

You can have a great sleeper when you have one of the components down:  1) self-soothing skills, 2) age appropriate nap schedule and 3) bedtime at the right time.  But it’s not until all 3 of the components are solid when babies sleep through the night.

You can do it and if you can’t, I’m here to help!  If you have all three components nailed down and your baby still requires 1 feed in the middle of the night, don’t stress it since there are some babies that may need a feed up until 9 months.

Once your baby is sleeping through the night and has an amazing sleep schedule, congratulations, you are officially a card-carrying member of the amazing sleep club.

Susie Parker

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

This Post Has 12 Comments
    1. I am in the exact same boat as Jessica Bly. How do I stop him from wanting my boob for sleep without him going crazy

  1. How do I keep my baby from getting upset and waking up fully if I don’t give her a boob? She will sometimes barely get any suction even and then drop right off and back to sleep, but sometimes she wants to have that boob in her mouth constantly and if I try to take it out she wakes up and if i don’t put it right back she’ll get upset and wake up completely.

    1. She loves the boob! That’s her sleep association. She just doesn’t know how to sleep without it. So that’s when you want to figure out the way to have her be like us – fall asleep without any help!

  2. Hi Susie!

    Thanks for the great article. I love that there are three succinct points. My daughter in 4 months and can self sooth very well, has 3-4 naps a day roughly about 4.5hours of napping daily and is down for bed at 6.30pm. She still wakes for an 11-11.30pm feed and a 3-3.30am feed, do I just have to wait it out or is there something I can try to help her along to dropping one or both feeds?!

    1. So glad you have a great sleeper! Believe it or not, everything is pretty age appropriate for now. So I wouldn’t suggest changing anything…. You can also always wait 10 minutes before responding with food to give her the opportunity to fall back asleep.

  3. Oh and one more thing, is it correlated to how much milk she is getting in the day? I’m trying to up her intake but for months she has just been on 3-4oz per feed and won’t have anymore! Fantastic that she’s still gaining weight and is healthy all round considering she’s on the same amount.

  4. OMG it’s the self-soothing one- she does 20-40 minute sleeps (nap time and bedtime)!! How do I help her learn this?!! Please help!

  5. What if you have all 3 of those in place and baby STILL doesn’t sleep?? On a good night my 8 month old will wake up once to nurse, but more often than night she’s waking up twice a night to nurse. At what point can I safely assume she doesn’t need to eat at night? She goes to bed at or before 7 every night. If she wakes at 11, do I just let her cry? We’ve already done cry it out to get her to learn to fall asleep on her own. I’m just so tired after 8 months of not sleeping.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top