When do babies sleep through the night?
Most babies are ready and able to start sleeping for long stretches, up to 8 to 10 hours, by 3 to 6 months of age. In the first few months, newborns can only sleep for a few hours at a stretch as they need to be fed at least every 2 to 3 hours. And often much more frequently than that. By 6 months of age, most babies no longer need nighttime feedings, unless there is a concern about their growth.
Having an early bedtime (such as before 8:00) and establishing a consistent bedtime routine will set the foundation to help a baby sleep through the night. An early bedtime ensures that a baby is not overtired at bedtime and can settle down more easily. A bedtime routine that is 3 to 4 activities that are the same every night (such as a bath, pajamas, and a story) lets a baby know that it is time to go to bed. Studies show that the more nights a week that a baby has a bedtime routine, the better they sleep!
Finally, it is also important to understand that all babies naturally wake up during the night about two to six times. Therefore, we often think about why a baby may not be able to get back to sleep on his/her own in the middle of the night. Babies typically need what they had at bedtime when they initially fell asleep in order to return to sleep during the night. That said, if you rock or feed your baby to sleep at bedtime, then it is more than likely your baby will need the same to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night. Helping a baby learn to self-soothe to sleep at bedtime will help her be able to go back to sleep on her own during the night.