Wondering when babies start sleeping through the night and whether your little one will be a "good sleeper"? The answer mostly depends on your baby's age and stage, and whether or not he's learned to self-soothe.

Here's how to get baby to sleep through the night, encourage good sleeping habits and avoid potential sleep problems as your baby grows.

What does 'sleeping through the night' actually mean?

Sleeping through the night is usually defined as sleeping six to eight straight hours overnight. 

But remember, that’s only a fraction of the total 10 to 12 hours (or more) of sleep babies generally need at night, depending on age and stage, in addition to daytime naps. Meaning that even if your baby is "sleeping through the night" at 3 to 6 months old, you probably won’t be for a while (if your baby goes down at 7:30 p.m., for example, six hours later would be 1:30 a.m. and eight would be 3:30 a.m.).

Infants under 6 months old can usually sleep anywhere from three to eight hours at night, depending on age and stage. And babies between 4 and 6 months old are developmentally able to sleep through the night without a feeding, but whether they do is another story. Babies, like adults, eat for comfort and pleasure, not just nourishment. 

When do babies sleep through the night?

When you can expect your baby to start sleeping through the night depends on several factors, including baby's age, weight, whether or not you are breastfeeding, and your family's nighttime feeding habits.

Here's when babies start sleeping through the night, plus more info about babies' sleeping habits and patterns by age:


Newborns won't sleep through the night because they need to eat frequently. In fact, two to four hours at a time is about as long as you can expect your brand new baby to sleep during those early weeks and months — depending on whether you're breastfeeding, formula-feeding or both. 

2 to 3 months old

Two- to 3-month old babies can sleep for five- or six-hour stretches. That said, most 3-month-olds still need a feeding or two during the night, especially if they're nursing.

4 months old

At this age, babies can sleep for a solid seven or eight hours, which constitutes sleeping through the night, though it may happen gradually. That's because most 4-month-old babies have reached that magic weight of 11 to 14 pounds, which means they don't metabolically need a nighttime feeding. But they may still demand one!

5 to 6 months old

By now, babies are able to sleep through the night, so if your little one is still waking up more frequently to eat, you can be pretty sure he's not really hungry. To help him learn to sleep for six to eight hours at a time most nights, your doctor can advise you on how to slowly cut out those extra nighttime feedings.

Physically, your baby will be ready for that transition, though he may protest it, especially if he's used to several overnight snacks and the sweet dose of cuddling that comes with them. 

How to get baby to sleep through the night

You have more control over your baby's sleep habits than you may realize — and you don’t have to wait until he hits his half-birthday mark to start encouraging longer nighttime snoozes.

Follow these tips to help baby start sleeping through the night:

Establish a bedtime routine

Not only will your little one find the routine comforting, it will become baby's signal that it’s time to sleep. Begin with a nice, relaxing bath — warm water is both soothing and sleep-inducing. Follow with a story, cuddles and lullabies. Finish with a full feeding. If your baby is gassy, you can move the bedtime feeding to earlier in the routine.

Try not to change your baby's diaper in the middle of the night

Unless your baby is an absolute mess, skip middle-of-the-night changes if possible, since they'll probably wake him up. If you really need to change his diaper overnight, do it with the lights dimmed and as little talking as possible.

Consider moving baby farther away from you 

The AAP recommends that babies room-share with their parents until they’re at least 6 months old. But if your baby is sleeping in your room, or his bassinet or crib is very close to your bed, moving him farther away (or even into his own room) might work better for some families.

It could be that the very proximity to you is contributing to more overnight wake-ups. Talk to your pediatrician for help with the transition. 

Keep the calories coming during the day

Your baby will be less hungry at night (and better able to sleep) if his tummy gets filled enough during the day. Breastfed babies should eat every two to three hours or so, for a total of eight to 12 feedings over 24 hours, until they start solids around 6 months. It then drops to five to six feedings a day and gradually tapers off as they get older.

Most formula-fed babies should get around 4 ounces every four hours beginning when they're about a month old, though it depends on your little one (and most babies under 1 month need less formula than that). Expect that to increase to around 6 to 8 ounces by the time they starts solids at 4 to 6 months old.

Once solid food is introduced, babies need around four to five formula feedings a day. You can try adding an extra ounce or two to baby’s bottle during daytime feedings if he's taking less than the recommended 24 to 36 ounces overall.

Wake your baby up with a dream feed before you go down

Just before you go to bed, top your baby off with a late-night nibble, or a "dream feed." You'll need to wake him enough so that he's not completely asleep, and you shouldn't feed him when he's lying down. Even if he’s too drowsy to eat much, a few sips might be enough for an extra hour or two of sleep.

If this tactic prompts your baby to wake more often, ditch it and just make sure his bedtime feeding is ample.

Don't put cereal in your baby's bottle or be tempted to start solids too early

Not only won’t it help your baby sleep through the night, it could also be detrimental to his health. Introducing solids before 4 to 6 months (ideally 6 months as recommended by the AAP) can lead to tummy troubles as babies can't fully digest them at this point.

Plus, your infant could gag or inhale the thickened mixture into his lungs. 

Don't rush in at the first whimper

Give your baby the chance to self-soothe and get himself back to sleep before you go in to check on him. All babies wake up overnight (just like adults).

Start the process of weaning baby off nighttime feeds

When your baby is around 3 or 4 months old, you should be able to slowly cut back on middle-of-the-night feedings, with the ultimate goal of getting your baby to sleep through the night. But be sure to talk to your pediatrician first, since some babies may need those night feeds for longer than the first few months.

Night weaning and sleeping through the night

If you and your pediatrician decide that your baby is ready for night weaning, talk to your doctor about how to do it with your little one, and follow these tips:

Stretch out feedings

While newborns need to eat about every two to four hours, when baby is 3 or 4 months old, you can usually start extending the times between feedings (though, again, it varies from baby to baby). If your pediatrician gives the green light, introduce the concept gradually by adding an extra 15 to 30 minutes between feedings every other night. With any luck, the result will ultimately be a baby who sleeps longer.

Shorten nighttime feedings

Another way to night wean your baby is to start putting a little less into his bottle or spend a couple of minutes less on each breast during night wakings. Keep slightly decreasing the amount of milk or the nursing time over the course of a week or so until your baby gets the message and gives up an overnight feeding.

Don't rush to feed your baby at night

When your little one wakes up crying, wait before offering the breast or bottle. He might doze off again or entertain himself (those toes are fun!) for a while. If he starts protesting a lot, try soothing him with a quiet song or gentle pat first.

The sooner you teach your baby that night wakings won’t result in instant feedings, the sooner he’ll learn to sleep through the night. Just make sure that your baby isn’t truly hungry (and if he is, feed him). You can then start the process of upping the amount he eats during the day if your pediatrician says he’s ready.

What might prevent your baby from sleeping through the night?

There are plenty of things can keep baby from sleeping through the night, including:

  • Teething: Baby's first tooth might be a momentous milestone, but it can also wake him up at night. And teething symptoms, like crying, ear pulling and night waking, may crop up two to three months before the actual pearly whites appear.
  • A less-than-ideal sleeping environment: If baby is too hot, he might have trouble sleeping. Keep your baby's room at about 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and dress him in a one-piece sleeper. You should also keep the room quiet and dark.
  • Bad sleep habits: Try not to hold, rock or feed your baby until he falls asleep, or be inconsistent with his bedtime routine. Instead, put him to bed when he's drowsy but awake, which will help him learn to fall asleep on his own.
  • An inability to self-soothe: It's normal for a 6-month-old baby to wake up a few times a night, but he should be able to fall back to sleep again on his own. If he can't, he may not know how to self-soothe, so you may want to consider sleep training.
  • Sickness: Colds and ear infections can keep anyone awake at night — and your baby is no exception. Rest assured, once he starts feeling better, your baby should start sleeping better too.
  • Growth spurts: Baby will likely experience growth spurts at around 3 months, 6 months and 9 months (though the exact timing can vary). When this happens, he'll likely wake up earlier from naps, and more often during the middle of the night to eat.
  • Milestones: If your baby is mastering a new skill — rolling over, sitting up, crawling — he may have a hard time settling down or staying asleep at night. (Who wants to fall asleep when there’s so much to explore?)
  • Sleep regression: It's normal for babies — even those who are good sleepers — to wake up more often and have trouble falling back to sleep once they're 3 to 4 months old, and at other ages too. Blame sleep regressions — and know that those phases are only temporary.
  • Travel: Jet lag and other disruptions can mess with your baby's Zzzs. 

Should you sleep train your baby or get baby on a sleep schedule?

You won't be able to put your baby on a regular sleep schedule until he's between 3 and 6 months old. In fact, trying to start a sleep schedule too soon might interfere with baby's growth, not to mention your milk supply if you’re breastfeeding. 

Your baby will likely set (at least part) of his own sleep schedule: He might be an early riser and like to eat as soon as he wakes up, or he may like to sleep in and eat later in the morning. Either one is perfectly fine — babies vary as to how much sleep they need, and when they need it. 

The important thing to keep in mind is the total number of hours your little one is sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies ages 4 to 12 months sleep 12 to 16 hours every 24 hours, including naps. The National Sleep Foundation says babies ages 4 to 11 months should sleep 12 to 15 hours over 24 hours, including naps.

If your baby is 5 or 6 months old, and you've already weaned him off night feedings, you might want to try sleep training, which means teaching your little one to sleep for longer stretches at night and to self-soothe when he wakes up.

One popular sleep training technique is the cry it out method, in which you allow your baby to cry until he falls asleep on his own. A modified version is the Ferber method, where you go in to briefly soothe your baby at increasingly longer intervals over several nights until he falls asleep by himself. 

Sleep training isn't for every parent, so don't try it if you're not comfortable. Just know that letting your baby cry a bit won't scar him. If anything, you're teaching him to sleep on his own — a skill he'll use for the rest of his life.

If you're reading this through bleary eyes and the fog of fatigue, try to be patient with yourself and your little night owl. It's a good idea to sleep when your baby sleeps if you can and get help from loved ones to prevent extreme exhaustion. 

The early months of parenthood can be especially tiring. But soon you'll have a toddler bouncing off the walls all day and (usually) sleeping for longer stretches at night. Just know that — like the days of tiny onesies and infant burp cloths — this stage, too, shall pass.