|Image courtesy of Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When a baby is waking up several times a night, every parent wants to know, when do babies sleep through the night? If you have researched and googled this topic already, then you have most likely noticed that every source gives you a different answer. So let’s clear this up. After all, I bet your dying to know when this exhaustion will end, and when your baby will start sleeping through the night.
Let’s Define Sleeping Through the Night.
The “medical” definition of sleeping through the night is 5 hours. Now I know some of you would be happy with a measly 5 hours, but most of you want to know when your baby will sleep ALL night, right? Say 10-12hrs?
When Do Babies Start Sleeping Through the Night?
Most experts such as Jodi Mindell, The National Sleep Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics, to name a few, say that a baby is capable of sleeping an 8-12 hour stretch between the ages of 3-6 months. As a baby sleep consultant with years of experience. I would have to agree.
Some babies take a bit longer than 6 months, but usually only wake and need one feeding. For example, if your 7 month old baby is sleeping for a 10 hour stretch, then wakes for a feeding and goes right back to sleep, then this may be normal for her age. Chances are, that is the longest she can make it without needing a feed. As she gets older the stretch of sleep will extend, until she no longer needs it. To make sure that this doesn’t become a habitual waking, always remember to put your baby down awake after a feeding. It is very easy for a baby to start waking at a certain hour to be nursed back to sleep as a habit. Especially during the morning hours, when sleep is the lightest. So if your baby truly needs a feeding, always make sure she is put down awake when she’s done.
How Sleep Props Interfere.
Another point worth mentioning is that just because most babies are capable of sleeping through the night at this age, doesn’t mean they do sleep through the night. Many babies have bad sleep habits. They rely on sleep props or associations to fall asleep. They need mommy to put them to sleep and this prevents them from sleeping through the night. If these sleep troubles are not addressed, then your baby may continue waking several times a night. Parents like to think that their baby’s sleep troubles are just a phase and their baby will eventually outgrow this phase. A recent study shows that sleep troubles in infancy continue until 3 years of age. A similar study shows up to 5 years. Chances are your baby is not going to outgrow her sleep troubles anytime soon.
So somewhere between the age of 3-6 months, a baby is capable of sleeping through the night. Even if your baby is a little bit older and still waking for that one feeding, that is perfectly normal. But waking several times a night at that age definitely needs to be investigated further. Because by waiting and hoping that things will improve on their own, you will see that things usually only get worse.