"Isn't Your Baby Sleeping Through The Night?"
"most annoying question to young
Latest update: September 20, 2018
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
baby sleeping through the night yet?" Sadly many visitors will comment on your cutie not sleeping before you
can tell them how cute she smiles. Society expects so much from new parents and their new baby, particularly when
comes to sleep in those first months. Don't let yourself be discouraged, they should know better than to focus on sleep only and to expect so much! Yours will sleep through some day too, when she's truly ready to sleep those longer stretches.
Let's have a look at what
sleeping through really means and what to expect at different ages.
Family and friends' questions are usually well-meant
of course: with baby sleeping through the night, you as a parent sleep
better too. Otherwise, you may be going through
some rough times.
Luckily there are effective and gentle techniques that help, that's why
I developed my 3-step
program for longer nights with and for parents.
But please do not feel
frustrated because the others
expect your little one to sleep
through, or if your friend's 3 week old baby sleeps for 8 hours in a
row (there's even a good chance that isn't even true!).
through the night is a very subtle baby milestone. There
is not a fixed age, you cannot force it and it may come and go in
What does "sleeping through the night" mean?
First of all, let's define
sleeping through. It is very much a subjective
matter: some parents are thrilled to report their baby sleeps through
doing 4 hours in a row, others won't be happy until baby sleeps a full
10 hours non-stop.
Also, from researched sleep
patterns, we know that babies and toddlers sleep in very short cycles.
This means they basically wake up every 1-1,5 hour.
Sleeping through means that they doze off again straight away without waking up completely, or waking
you up. Because of this, being able
to self soothe is such an important sleeping skill. So that gives
us the following:
Sleeping Through Definition
several hours during the
baby is not waking up completely
and doesn't need her parents' assitance to sleep on
What is sleeping through at different ages?
Sleeping through at different ages depends on:
- Maturity: how
well is baby's sleep developed?
needs: how long can baby be without
Let's see what's
reasonable to expect from a baby at different ages:
a newborn baby alternates sleep and wake times continuously, day and
night. (Instill day/night difference in her newborn
baby sleep schedule). She
needs to feed on average every 2-4 hours. So 4 hours is about the
maximum you can expect. Count your blessings if you have your newborn
sleeping through more, but do make sure she feeds enough, it is not
healthy for a newborn to be without milk for too long.
- 6 months: Baby gradually learns the difference between
day and night (thanks to a well suited sleep
schedule). Night time sleep becomes longer than daytime
sleep. Baby still needs to feed 1-3 times during the night. Many babies
will start making longer stretches regularly towards 6 months, about 4-5 hours of sleep
months - 1 year: In this second half year most babies
gradually loose the need to feed at night. That is, they can go to 6-8 hours of sleep
without food. However, many babies continue to wake out of hunger
during growth spurts, a need for reassurance, or out of habit.
- 1 year
and up: This is when we expect a baby or a toddler to
sleep through the night. Uninterrupted sleep will gradually go from 8
to 12 hours. However, it is still very common and normal to have your
child wake up at night once or twice for various reasons.
At every age,
applying the right basics and using techniques that are adapted to your
child in a loving yet consistent approach will give you and your baby
the best sleep. See No-Tears
Sleeping Through the Night for my basic guide, and in particular my latest, specific for frequent wakings: Overcome Frequent Waking.
For further info on typical amounts of sleep refer to How
much sleep is enough? Also check for common sleep
disturbers to avoid them disturbing your baby's sleep.
A couple of personal thoughts about sleeping through
I regularly meet parents who feel shame about their
baby's sleep: if you have to tell someone that your baby sleeps very
poorly at night, it may
feel like you've failed ...
Listen to me: YOU HAVE NOT FAILED!
Please don't let anyone who makes you feel bad or guilty or ashamed about your little loved one's sleep get to you. They're wrong.
you can help your baby sleep well with the best possible sleep
environment or guide her
well suited sleep
method. But no, that doesn't happen instantly nor easily for most. A baby is not a machine that you can switch off, but a tiny human being with needs and maturing abilities. With our loving care, she will learn the sleep skills she needs, when she's ready - phyiscally and mentally - and will come to sleep through
countless moms who have realized this, have reported that, the instant
they relaxed about
sleep and sleeping through, their baby suddenly slept much better!