“Sleep … what’s that?” Ask many parents of babies. When you decided to have children, you knew there’d be some sleepless nights. But now that baby is here, sleep has become especially overrated.
Sleepless nights are one of the toughest parts of being a parent but don’t despair. If you’ve Googled “when will my baby sleep through the night” or “how can I get my baby to sleep through the night,” you’ve come to the right place.
Baby sleep expert, Suzanne Clinton, a registered nurse and program outreach manager at Banner Health Women and Infant Services, answers your questions and shares some easy steps you can take to help lull your baby to sleep and keep them asleep through the night.
When will my baby sleep through the night?
Before you try to get your baby to sleep through the night, they’ll need to be able to sleep through the night first. And this can vary, baby to baby, Clinton said.
“Many babies will start sleeping for longer stretches of the night between 3 to 6 months of age,” she said. “Sleeping more than 8 hours is usually closer to 6 months or older.”
While there are no guarantees when it comes to your baby sleeping through the night, Clinton shared some expert-approved tricks to help you and your baby catch some beauty sleep.
How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?
Establish a bedtime routine and stick to it. A regular bedtime and nap routine around the same time every day can help develop good sleep habits. Your baby is a creature of habit. They’ll get used to cues and it’ll make bedtime easier. If you miss a couple steps your baby has come to expect, it could throw off their sleep routine.
“When it comes to a bedtime routine, consistency is everything,” Clinton said. “It should be simple and sustainable so it’s easy to do every night.”
Draw a warm bath. There’s nothing as soothing as soaking in a warm bath after a long day—and that’s especially true for your little one. Check out “Baby’s First Bath, Tips for Bathing a Newborn” for helpful bathing tips for baby.
Try a baby massage. Massage may help your baby sleep as part of their bedtime routine as well. Research suggests that massaging your baby regularly can help them relax and drift off to sleep.
Create a calming atmosphere. At night, draw the shades, dim the lights and keep the room a comfortable temperature. Rock them in the chair and quietly read them a bedtime story.
Don’t keep your baby up late. While the idea of putting baby to bed later with the hopes they’ll sleep later seems sound, the opposite is true. Why? They can get overtired. When your baby is overtired, their little bodies naturally produce hormones to fight sleep, which can make it harder for them to fall and stay asleep.
Teach baby to self-soothe (after nighttime feedings are done). Self-soothing is when your baby can calm and relax themselves and go back to sleep again in their bed.
“This means if they wake up in the middle of the night, they can soothe themselves back to sleep,” Clinton said. “However, this technique isn’t recommended for babies who are still needing nighttime feedings.”
Have a conversation with your baby’s health care provider to see if sleep training is right for you and your baby.
Resist the urge to feed baby to sleep. If your baby is falling asleep on your breast or while taking a bottle, they aren’t learning to fall asleep on their own. If this is happening, shift your baby’s feedings earlier in their bedtime routine.
Be patient. All parents go through sleepless nights—it’s a rite of passage. Those sleepless nights won’t last forever. If one solution doesn’t work, you can try another.
“Remember to practice safe sleep practices and enjoy these precious moments because they go fast,” Clinton said.
If you have additional questions or concerns about your baby’s sleep, talk to your child’s health care provider. To find a Banner Health specialist near you, visit bannerhealth.com.