Simple Steps to Help Baby Sleep Through the Night So You Can Too

Let’s talk about baby sleep. Those nighttime hours are more than just a break for us – they’re crucial for our little ones. If you want to help your baby sleep through the night so that you can get some sleep, too, you’re in the right place!

I’ve been right where you are. Read on for a solid plan and lots of support. You got this. 

When should we expect our babies to sleep through the night? Every baby is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but many babies can sleep through the night by the time they’re 4 to 6 months of age.

It’s important to establish a consistent bedtime routine and ensure your little one is getting enough to eat throughout the day. 

Before we dive in, let’s define what sleeping through the night even means for babies. “Sleeping through the night” for babies typically means snoozing for a stretch of about 6 to 8 hours of sleep without waking up for feedings or cuddles.

But let’s keep it real: this can look different for every baby because they all have their own needs and patterns. It’s all about finding what works for your family and understanding that getting to this milestone is a process.

The American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges that babies have different sleep patterns and that sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone that varies from baby to baby. They encourage parents to establish good sleep habits early on and to create a safe sleep environment.

The AAP also emphasizes that while some babies can sleep for longer stretches by 6 months of age, others may take a bit longer, and that’s perfectly okay. Remember, it’s about what’s best for your baby and your family’s rhythm. 

help your baby sleep through the night so you can too. image of sleeping baby.

My hope is that these tips to help baby sleep through the night will give you some hope that the sleepless nights will end soon.

Baby Sleep Tip #1: Early Bedtime

Aiming for a 6-8 pm lights-out can be a game-changer. It lines up with getting our kiddos those golden 11-13 hours of shut-eye they need each night. Early bedtimes aren’t just about us catching up on our Netflix queue (though that’s a nice perk); it’s about syncing with their natural sleep rhythms for optimal growth and development.

An early tuck-in means they’re more likely to snag those longer, uninterrupted stretches of sleep. And we all know a well-rested baby is a happier, cozier baby. So, while every family’s routine might look a little different, this early bedtime window could be just the ticket for a smoother night for your little one (and maybe a quieter one for you).

Why is an early bedtime important for babies?

The first part of the night is prime time for your baby’s deep sleep, which is super important for their growth and brain development.

During the early hours after they nod off, babies get most of their restorative sleep. This is the time when their bodies are in high gear, repairing tissues and growing. It’s also when the brain does some of its most important work, making sense of all the new things they learned during the day.

As the night goes on, their sleep cycle shifts to include more REM sleep, which is the dreamy part. It’s still important, especially for memory and learning, but it’s that first chunk of deep sleep that really helps with their physical and cognitive growth.

Setting up an early bedtime routine can help your baby tap into this valuable sleep time. But remember, all babies are unique and some might naturally get more deep sleep later in the night. The goal is just to make sure they’re getting the rest they need to thrive.

Baby Sleep Tip #2: Consistent Bedtime Routine

Establishing a solid bedtime routine is essential for our babies. It’s not just about getting them to sleep; it’s about setting a rhythm that their little bodies and brains can rely on.

Consistency is key. A regular sequence of pre-sleep activities signals to your baby that it’s time to wind down. This recognition is crucial for several reasons:

Sleep Signal: A regular routine is like a green light for sleep. It helps babies shift from active mode to sleep mode, making the whole “falling asleep” part a lot smoother and creates positive sleep associations. 

Comfort Zone: The same steps each night mean your baby knows what’s coming. This predictability can cut down on fussiness and help your little one feel snug and secure.

Cue the Zzz’s: With time, the routine itself tells your baby’s brain that sleep is near. Those familiar, soothing activities become a shortcut to dreamland, helping them nod off faster and stay asleep.

Body Clock Basics: A regular bedtime routine sets the stage for a solid sleep-wake cycle. Getting into a groove with sleep times can mean less night waking and more bright-eyed mornings.

Bonding Moments: Those pre-sleep snuggles, stories, and songs? They’re not just nice—they’re building blocks for your connection with your baby, filled with warmth and love.

Sounder Sleep: All this routine business translates to better sleep. When babies are calm and cozy, they can dive deeper into those important restorative sleep stages.

Healthy Habits: Starting these bedtime habits early can set a lifelong pattern of good sleep, which is a cornerstone of overall health.

So, while every family’s routine might be different, the goal is the same: a calm, happy baby who knows that when the lights dim, it’s time for some serious snoozing.

Remember, what works for one family might not work for another, but the goal is the same: a peaceful process that leads to restful nights for your baby (and hopefully for you, too).

I have a detailed post dedicated to establishing a realistic baby bedtime routine that will give you lots of great ideas as you decide what you want your routine to look like.

Baby Sleep Tip #3: Practice the Pause

I first learned about “the pause” in Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. I thought it was interesting and wanted to try it right away. 

When your baby makes a noise in the night, French parents don’t immediately run into the baby’s room. Instead, they wait a few minutes to see whether babies will settle on their own, a technique the author calls “the pause.” 

French parents listen closely to their babies’ sounds, which helps inform them about when they really need attention and when babies are just making noises in their sleep. If it’s the latter, they let them settle on their own. 

I learned pretty quickly that my baby was sometimes just “crying out” and not “crying.” Sometimes, she would settle herself down, and my going into the room would have disrupted that.

Baby Sleep Tip #4: Dark and Quiet Nursery

Let’s talk about setting the stage for your baby’s best sleep. A sleep-friendly nursery is like a cozy cocoon – it’s all about the right vibe for slumber.

Here’s how to make it happen:

  1. Embrace the Dark: A dark room is a sleepy room. Consider room darkening shades to keep out streetlights and early sunrises. They’re a game-changer for maintaining that nighttime feel.
  2. Sound Off: A sound machine with white noise can be a steady hum that drowns out the chaos of the world. It’s like a lullaby for their brain, telling them it’s time to wind down.
  3. Snug as a Bug: A good sleepsack is the cherry on top. It’s the cozy embrace that replaces blankets and keeps your baby warm and secure all night long.

A nursery that’s dark and quiet is more than just sleep-friendly – it’s a haven. It’s where your baby learns that night-time is for rest. It’s where they can switch off from the buzz of the day and recharge for tomorrow’s adventures.

And let’s not forget about growth and development. Quality sleep in a serene environment is like a nightly dose of wellness for your little one. It’s when their bodies do the hard work of growing up strong.

Creating this tranquil space is also about connection. The moments you share are even sweeter in the quiet of a well-settled room.

For those interested in the nitty-gritty of blackout curtains and other sleep sanctuary essentials, dive into the details here. You’ll find out how to transform your nursery into a snug little nest that beckons sleep.

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Baby Sleep Tip #5: Dress for Success

Picking out the right jammies for your baby is more than just about the cute factor – it’s a big deal for their comfort and safety. Babies aren’t the best at keeping their own temperature steady, so the right sleepwear is essential to make sure they’re not too hot or too cold.

When it comes to safe sleeping, it’s all about keeping things simple and secure. Ditch the loose blankets and go for baby-safe sleepwear to cut down on any risk of getting tangled up. Safety first, right?

And let’s talk about comfort – if your baby’s not comfy, nobody’s sleeping well. You want soft, breathable materials that fit just right. A comfortable baby means more zzz’s for everyone.

Practicality matters too. The ability for a quick diaper change is a must in the middle of the night, so sleepwear that makes this easy is a lifesaver. Those baby sleep gowns? They’re a game-changer for diaper duty, especially for young babies. 

Don’t forget about your baby’s sensitive skin. Choose sleepwear that’s gentle and won’t cause any irritation. No scratchy tags or seams allowed.

As your little one grows and starts moving around more, their sleepwear will need to keep up. Freedom of movement is important for those milestones like rolling and crawling.

And remember, babies can get attached to their sleepwear as part of their bedtime routine. It’s all about creating that cozy, sleepy vibe that tells them it’s time to close those eyes.

So, there you have it – finding the perfect sleepwear is about mixing safety, comfort, and a little bit of routine magic.

Read More About What Baby Should Wear for Sleep:

Baby Sleep Tip # 6: Hire a Sleep Consultant

If you’re overwhelmed and desperate to get some sleep, don’t be afraid to call in the experts. Seriously, you DON’T need to suffer through months (or even years) of being sleep-deprived due to your child not sleeping through the night.

I am a person who finds it very difficult to ask for help, so if you’re feeling hesitant, I totally get it. But you don’t have to be a super mom. Your baby needs to LEARN how to sleep, and there are experts out there who know exactly how to TEACH them. No crying-it-out needed!

If you’re ready for some help, there’s a program I want to tell you about that’s been used by a ton of moms to help their babies sleep – it’s called the Sleep Sense Program by Dana Obleman

This is the perfect program for you if:

  • Your child wakes up multiple times throughout the night
  • Your lack of sleep due to your child not sleeping it’s starting to take its toll on you
  • You have to rock, bounce or take a car drive for your child to nap or fall asleep at night
  • You’re frustrated, exhausted, and stressed out.
  • Your child needs a pacifier to fall asleep (and if it falls out during the night, YOU have to wake up to put it back in…)

If you want to learn more, read our review of Dana Obleman’s Sleep Sense Program. She covers ALL the details and answers all your questions so you can decide if you want to let Dana help you and your baby. 

Sleep Regression and Growth Spurts

Sleep regressions and growth spurts are like plot twists in your baby’s sleep saga—they can definitely shake things up! During a sleep regression, which can happen at various stages (like around 4 months old, 8 months, and 18 months), your previously good sleeper might start waking up more often or resisting bedtime. Growth spurts, on the other hand, can make your little one hungrier and more restless as they channel all that energy into getting bigger and stronger, leading to night wakings. 

While these phases can temporarily disrupt your baby’s (and your) sleep, they’re super common and a sign that your baby is developing just as they should be. Hang in there and stick to your routines as much as possible. This too shall pass, and you’ll be back to more peaceful nights before you know it. 

A Note About Nighttime Feedings

Nighttime feedings are totally normal and necessary, especially for newborns and young infants. These feedings support their rapid growth and development. As babies grow, their need for night feedings typically decreases, which can lead to longer stretches of sleep. But let’s be real. This doesn’t happen overnight. Each baby will drop these feedings at their own pace, and that’s okay! So, while you’re up for those midnight snacks, remember that you’re fueling your little one’s growth and helping them get closer to ‘sleeping through the night’ in their own time. 

Introducing solid foods is an exciting milestone that can have a yummy impact on your baby’s sleep patterns! Once your baby starts solids, usually around 6 months, they might begin to sleep for longer periods at night. That’s because solids can be more satisfying and may keep their tiny tummies full longer. But here’s the real talk: starting solids doesn’t guarantee a full night’s sleep, as there are many factors that contribute to sleep habits.

How Do I Know if My Baby is Getting Enough Sleep?

Knowing if your baby is getting enough sleep is about tuning into their cues and behavior. If your little one is happy, alert during awake periods, and not overly fussy, chances are they’re getting the Zzz’s they need. Monitor their sleep patterns and look for regular, restful sleep periods. Remember, total sleep includes nighttime slumbers and those precious naps. Trust your instincts, mama—you know your baby best! If you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician for peace of mind.

Here’s a general guideline for how many hours of sleep a baby might need over a 24-hour period by age:

  • Newborn (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
  • School-age children (6-13 years): 9-11 hours

Remember that these numbers include daytime naps and nighttime sleep and that there’s a range in the amount of sleep needed because every baby is different. Some might need more sleep. Some might need less. It’s important to look for signs that your baby is well-rested and to adjust their sleep schedule as needed. And remember, it’s all about what works for your family’s unique rhythm and needs. Sweet dreams to your little one!

Bonus: Our Favorite Baby Sleep Resources

Books With Awesome Sleep Tips

Online Sleep Training Methods We Love

Our reader’s top pick: The Sleep Sense Program by Dana Obleman, Professional Baby Sleep Coach

Other sleep coaches to check out:

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As a new mom, observing your baby’s sleep patterns and establishing a good bedtime routine can help promote better sleep for both you and your little one. If you have any concerns about your baby’s sleep or development, it’s always a good idea to consult with your pediatrician or pediatric sleep consultant for personalized advice and support.