How To Get Baby to Sleep Through the Night

What to do when your Babywise baby is not sleeping through the night. How to get baby to sleep through the night.

Baby night sleep

If you knew exactly when your baby would sleep through the night, you could be patient. If you knew in two weeks you would reach that magical day, you could persevere.

The unknown is hard.

The unknown can be soul-crushing.

The unknown can make you very impatient.

You don’t know if you are on the right path and you just need a glimmer of hope!

You want baby sleeping through the night and you want it to happen now.

When your baby is not sleeping through the night, you cannot solve the night wakings without figuring out why baby is waking up.

Baby is not waking at night for no reason.

Figuring out the why can take time and often takes experimenting, but you cannot get your baby to sleep through the night without fixing the “why” for the waking.

Your first step will be figure out why, then you will fix the why.

Here is a list of whys and how to address each one.

A word on addressing issues. You need to think scientific method here. You cannot take this entire list and address it all tonight.

Change one thing at a time and see if that fixes it. If so, great. If not, try the next thing.

Here is a basic checklist of what we will talk about below:

  • Have patience as baby gets old enough and big enough to sleep through the night
  • Figure out if baby needs to eat in the night or not
  • Make sure baby is not sick, in pain, or uncomfortable
  • Figure out if baby is waking out of habit or not
  • Have a consistent bedtime routine
  • Make sure the schedule and routine are all working for baby
  • Sleep train baby so baby can fall asleep independently. Avoid sleep props

Have Patience

The first thing to do is to have patience. I get a lot of frustrated questions about 7 or 8 week olds who are not sleeping through the night.

It is fully in the range of normal to be that age and not sleeping through the night, even when you use On Becoming Babywise (affiliate). It is fully normal even until 12 weeks old.

So your first step in the process of figuring out why your baby is not sleeping through the night is to figure out if you just need more patience.

I know you are tired! I know you are anxious not knowing when that magical night will come.

You still have to be patient.

Note that breastfed babies tend to sleep through the night later than formula fed babies. This is not the case ALL of the time, but it often is true.

What Age Will Baby Sleep Through the Night?

There is quite the range in when baby will sleep through the night.

Baby can sleep through the night as young as 7 week old, but this is not sleeping 12 hours straight. This is about 7-8 hours of sleep at night uninterrupted.

Other babies will take as long as 12 weeks or more to reach this same milestone.

By three months of age, most babies will be sleeping at least that 7-8 hours at night of sleep.

I asked readers of this blog when their baby started to sleep 7-8 hours without disruption. This is what they had to say:

5-6 weeks: 12 votes (10%)
7-8 weeks: 27 votes (22%)
9-12 weeks: 39 votes (31%)
3-4 months: 17 votes (14%)
4-5 months: 1 vote (1%)
5-6 months: 2 votes (2%)
6 months or older: 4 votes (3%)
Not Yet!: 23 votes (18%)

Total of 125 votes

A different poll done several years later had this result:

8 Weeks: 8 Votes (38%)
9 Weeks: 3 Votes (14%)
12 Weeks: 5 Votes (23%)
4 Months: 2 Votes (9%)
5 Months: 1 Vote (4%)
6 Months or Older: 2 Votes (9%)

Total of 21 Votes

I also asked readers of this blog when their baby started to sleep 10-12 hours at night without disruption. This is what they had to say:

9-11 Weeks: 10 votes (12%)
12 Weeks: 10 votes (12%)
3-4 Months: 17 votes (21%)
4-5 Months: 10 votes (12%)
5-6 Months: 7 votes (8%)
6-8 Months: 3 votes (3%)
8 Months or Older: 2 votes (2%)
Not Yet!: 21 votes (26%)

Total of 80 votes

Analyze Night Feedings

When your baby gets up in the night, how does he eat for nighttime feedings?

Does he eat well for the feeding in the night? Does he just eat for a couple of minutes and then quit? How are sleep patterns after the feeding?

Baby Eats Well for First Feeding of Day

If he eats well, how does he eat for the very first feeding of the day?

If your baby eats well in the night and eats well for the first feeding of the day, your baby legitimately needs to eat in the night.

Do not despair!

There are things you can try if that is the case.

You can add a dreamfeed if you do not have one so your baby can get an extra feeding in before your night time.

You can try cluster feeding in the evening to squeeze in an extra feeding during the day and tank baby up before night.

You can also try feeding more often all day long to fit in an extra feed during daytime hours and hope baby then won’t need a night feeding.

For example, if you are feeding every 3-3.5 hours during the day, you can feed every 2.5 hours and work an extra feeding into the daytime.

Those things won’t always work, however, and you might need to just be patient until baby no longer needs that night feeding.

Baby Does Not Eat Well for First Feeding of Day

If your baby does not eat well for the first feeding of the day, then your baby probably does not need to eat at night.

In this case, you can work to eliminate the night feeding and see what happens.

You can cut the feeding all together, or you can slowly cut back the amount of time spent eating or total amount eaten if you are feeding with a bottle.

Always keep in mind that growth spurts happen, so a baby who was not hungry in the night last week might be hungry in the night this week.

Always be sure you feed extra for growth spurts during the daytime hours to avoid more night feedings from needing to happen.

>>>Read: How to Drop Middle of the Night Feeding

Follow a Schedule

If you are not following a schedule in the day with your baby, this is the time to start one. Have a morning start time that is consistent. Have an eat/wake/sleep schedule in the day. Have a consistent bedtime. If you are not yet following a schedule, see my Starting Babywise Late Guide.

How to drop night feedings graphic

Consider Sickness 

A sick baby will not sleep well at night. If your baby has a cold or any other sort of sickness, expect sleep to not be as solid as it would be otherwise.

Once baby is done with the sickness, you can move on to try to get baby sleeping through the night, but during a sickness is not the time to fight that battle.

Consider Pain

A baby in pain will not sleep well. Your baby might have gas pain or reflux pain going on, preventing baby from being able to sleep well and sleep solid through the night.

>>>Read: What To Do If Your Baby Has Gas

If your baby is old enough, baby might be teething, causing pain.

A baby in pain will not sleep as well as she would have if she were not in pain.

If you think your baby might be in pain, try remedying the pain and see how sleep goes.

If it is reflux, talk to your baby’s doctor about ways to help relieve the pain. Keep in mind that most reflux medication dosages are based on weight, so as your baby gets bigger, it is highly possible she will suddenly stop sleeping as well because her reflux meds are no longer enough and her pain is back.

If you suspect your baby has gas pain, try giving gas drops through the day each day. You also want to be sure you are burping thoroughly.

If your baby is waking up from teething pain, you can give some pain meds before bedtime to help with the pain and hope it won’t wake baby up at night.

I have had babies with disrupted sleep from all of these types of pain, and more (like ear infections). You have to work through the pain to get to a point when baby can sleep well.

Consider Habit

Some babies start out waking up for a legitimate reason, like hunger. Then they just get used to waking up at that time each day and each night and continue to do it out of habit.

If it is habit, baby will literally wake up and just about the exact same minute each night.

Baby can wake up at the same time and be hungry, so you can’t assume it is habit just because it is consistent.

If you think it might be habit, you can test it by helping baby fall back asleep without feeding baby.

If baby wakes up an hour later (at the next sleep transition), you can safely assume baby really is hungry.

If baby sleeps longer than an hour before waking again, there is a good chance it is habit.

What to Do If Waking is From Habit

If you figure out that it definitely is habit, there are a few options before you.

You can help baby fall back asleep and hope baby learns to sleep through and not wake from habit.

You can wait ten minutes before going in to see if baby will just resettle and go to sleep.

You can also do cry it out or some form of sleep training.

You can try doing a wake to sleep from the Baby Whisperer.

Also, when you to in to your baby in the night, keep the interaction low-key and as boring as possible. Do not make night time feedings a party or baby will be more inclined to try to keep that feeding.

Consider Comfort

Is your baby uncomfortable in any way?

When your baby transitions between sleep cycles, discomfort can lead your baby to wake up rather than drift into the next stage of sleep.

A diaper being too wet or poopy can wake your baby.

The room being too hot or too cold can wake your baby (see also this post on optimal temperature for sleep).

Your baby not being dressed in the optimal way can make it so baby doesn’t sleep well.

The swaddle, or lack thereof, can wake your baby.

If your baby is uncomfortable in any way, change things up until you find the right temperature, diaper size, swaddle type, pajamas, etc. for your baby to sleep well.

Keep a Consistent Morning Waketime

I can’t stress the importance of a consistent morning waketime enough.

I know you are tired. I know you want to sleep in and just let baby sleep, especially if baby is waking in the early morning hours (or late hours of the night).

You can sleep if you really want to, but know you will most likely delay baby sleeping through the night if you do so.

Consistency with your first feeding of the day is the single most underrated tool for getting baby to sleep through the night.

If your baby is waking a little too early in the morning, see this post for help.

Analyze Bedtime

Timing is key for good sleep. Timing for bedtime is important just like it is for naptime.

I aim for bedtime to happen about 12 hours before I want baby waking up each morning. Keep bedtime consistent. You want to get baby to bed about the same time each night.

If you think bedtime might be off, experiment with different bedtimes. Keep a log of what time bedtime happens so you can track if a certain time works better than another.

The Babywise Mom Book of Logs eBook cover

Not only do you need your bedtime timing consistent, you need your bedtime routine consistent.

If the bedtime routine is the same each night, it really helps signal to your baby that it is night time. A solid routine can also help baby calm down and settle in for good night sleep. A solid routine is really important for helping baby have good sleep habits.

>>>Read: Perfecting Your Babywise Bedtime Routine

Analyze Dreamfeed

The dreamfeed should happen between 10-11 PM for most babies.

Some babies are quite sensitive and need the dreamfeed just so or they won’t sleep well.

I would say most babies are not hyper sensitive to the dreamfeed timing, but some are. My fourth child was so sensitive that she had a five minute window that worked.

If I fed her outside of that window, she would not sleep well that night. Experiment with the timing for your dreamfeed. Go in five minute increments in case your baby is sensitive about it.

You also might need to just drop the dreamfeed. Some babies get so disrupted by the dreamfeed that it hurts night sleep rather than help it.

Analyze Overall Daytime Sleep

Your baby might not sleep well if daytime sleep is either too much or too little.

If it is too little, your baby will be overly tired, and sleep begets sleep, so baby may not be well-rested enough to sleep well. Lack of sleep in the day will not equate to great sleep at night. It will usually mean sleepless nights for both you and baby.

If your baby has too many naps for her age, you might need to drop or shorten a nap to get daytime sleep in the right spot for night sleep to go well.

Read my post on the Best Ages for Dropping Baby’s Naps to know if it might be time for a nap change.

Analyze Sleep Props and Self-Soothing Ability

If your baby has a sleep prop, the prop might be leading to baby waking in the night.

If baby relies on a prop to fall asleep, then when he transitions at night, if the prop isn’t there, he will likely wake instead of falling back asleep. Sleep props can lead to bad sleep habits.

It is not uncommon for babies who sleep with pacifiers to have a period of time when sleep is disrupted. At that point, parents decide between getting rid of the pacifier or pushing through.

>>>Read: Weaning from the Pacifier: When, Why, and How

Sleep props are not always bad. Read more on when sleep props are okay and when you should avoid them. One sleep prop I personally love and used with many of baby babies at night is white noise. It really helped baby at night and during naps to sleep through noises.

Another sleep prop is the inability to fall asleep independently.

If your baby can’t fall asleep alone, in other words, has no self-soothing ability, then baby likely will wake up in the night and need help falling back asleep.

You might need to do some sleep training to get your baby to sleep through the night. One of my favorite sleep training methods for no-cry sleep training is the Four S’s. If your baby is a newborn, this can work very well. 

Poll Results for How to Get Baby to STTN

I asked readers of this blog the following:

Did baby sleep through the night on own, or did you have to do something to help get there?


Yes: 43 votes (45%)
No–CIO: 26 votes (27%)
No–Wean from feedings: 10 votes (10%)
No–Other method: 3 votes (3%)
Baby not STTN yet: 12 votes (12%)

Total of 94 votes


Hang in there! Your baby will sleep through the night at some point. It might just happen one night, but you might need to put in some effort with doing some experimenting and figuring it out.

Babywise is great and helpful, but even among the Babywise babies, there is a normal range that is quite large in Baby Standard Time.

Even if you are baby wise, there are always outliers and extenuating circumstances, as listed above, that can interfere with night sleep happening when you hope.

Go through this list. Try and see if any of them are interfering with sleep.

If not, it might be time for some sleep training to get baby sleeping through the night. Your night will come.

Related Posts

Reader Questions

Jenny said: Hi! I have an 8 week old who I have been nursing about every 2.5 to 3 hours during the day. I put him down around 8:30 every night for bed and he generally wakes up around 11:00 for another feeding and then again at 2:00am, 5:00am and then around 7:00am we start our day. Will he eventually drop all of these nighttime feedings on his own, or should I be doing something to help this along. I just saw that the majority of the babies are sleeping through the night at 8 weeks, and it seems like we are nowhere close to that! Thanks so much for your help!

Babywise Mom said: Technically, you are having two nighttime feedings. Your 11 PM feeding would be considered a late evening feeding, also known as the dreamfeed. You could feed him at 10:30 if you want, more for your own sake if that makes your nighttime sleep any better. Something to take note of with this poll is that there aren’t a lot of responses. I intend to do this poll again now because there are more responses to polls now than there were then. The more responses, the more accurate the results. Also, according to BW, 15% of babies don’t start sleeping 7-8 hours consistently until they are 10-12 weeks old. For me, I don’t think about working on nighttime sleep until 12 weeks just in case baby needs to wait that long. Some moms know their baby is ready for some work earlier, and that is fine. I just prefer to do it that way. So if I were you, I would hang in there for a few more weeks and see what happens.

Family said: I have a 12 week old baby. I do the BW feed, wake, sleep schedule. I am currently feeding him every 3 hours. I dreamfeed at 11 and then put him down for the night. He rarely makes it longer than 5 hours before he is up crying. I have tried CIO for several nights (as long as 45 minutes) but he has never gone back to sleep. I eventually end up feeding him. I don’t feel like he is making any progress towards STTN. After his middle of the night feeding he usually sleeps another 3 1/2 to 4 hours and starts his day around 8. We are averaging 7 feedings a day. Any suggestions on what to try to help him STTN. I have two other boys I have used BW with and both were STTN by this age.

Babywise Mom said: Family,Boys do take longer to STTN. I would try to get more feedings in him in the day. You could also try cluster feeding at night–many moms swear by it. Once McKenna started cluster feeding, she dropped a night feed immediately and started STTN shortly after (about a week and a half). See also the blog label “STTN” (on the right side of the page, or you can click on STTN in the label in this post).

Christie said: I have a similar situation with my 13 week old son. Some of his naps are 45 minutes and some almost 2 hours. Then at night for a little awhile he was sleeping 7-8 hours at night before needing to eat again and now he is waking up every 3-4 hours. I feed him on a 2.5-3 hour schedule, sometimes with a dream feed and sometimes not. Neither way seems to make a difference. I feel like I’m trying really hard to do the feed, wake sleep cycle but its not getting me the end result of “STTN.” (although i do have a very happy content baby who doesn’t even have a fussy time during the day by doing this schedule and he can go down to sleep for both naps and nightime awake and go to sleep on his own without crying). But how do i know if i should do a dream feed or not, how do i go about adding more feedings during the day or know if i need to? I feel a bit overwhelmed with all this and confused as to what to do at this point with sttn. Please help.

Babywise Mom said: Christie,Have you tried feeding him as soon as he wakes up?Whenever McKenna wakes early, I give her 10 minutes to go back to sleep (unless it is at the 2.5 hour mark). If she doesn’t, I just go feed her and continue on with the day. We have never had persistent 45 minute nap problems. I think many times, the persistent problems are the result of parents not wanting to start a bad habit, but they are actually not addressing a growth spurt or growth appetite. I would start with that. Good luck!

This post originally appeared on this blog in February 2018

Get baby sleeping through the night pinnable image

10 thoughts on “How To Get Baby to Sleep Through the Night”

  1. I’m desperate and looking for some answers. Babywise momma here. My first baby was sleeping over 10 hrs at night by two months. My second baby is now 4.5 months and I am struggling hard to make it through the night! Before 3.5 months I was beginning to get some 7 hr night stretches but now we are reverting back to one, two, and sometimes three feedings before the 7am feeding. I’m going crazy from lack of sleep. Once he wakes up, he just doesn’t go back to bed. I’ve just started trying raise to wake the last few days with not much luck. I’ve tried to let him cry through but he can scream his head off for a good hour in the middle of the night and never fall asleep. And finally now it’s running into naps. Yesterday was the first time I didn’t have a single real nap! I couldn’t even believe it. I’m at such a loss, so very angry, stressed, and tired. I need some advice and I’m sure you need some more details. I’m hoping I can hear from you! -Brittney

  2. Hi there! I’m hoping you can help?? Please! Baby is 19 weeks and at a 3 hour schedule. He eats well at the dreamfeed, and the MOTN feed is his BIGGEST meal ever. He nurses soooo long. and Then he barely eats at breakfast. So we know he COULD likely go the entire night, he is just getting his calories at the wrong time, right? I tried a 3.5 hour schedule that he seemed to do fine on during the day so as to try to get him eating more during the day (he has definitely started being less hungry every 3 hours), but that same night I tried the shift, he woke up 3 times that night. I tried cutting 2 minutes off his eating time at the MOTN feed, and he woke up an hour later wanting to eat more – he was totally onto my plan. What the heck do I do to get him to stop this MOTN feed?

    • Hello,

      That is really tricky. If he won’t take more in the day and won’t sleep if you give him less at night, it is hard to give a clear “do this” answer.

      If it were me, I would try feeding more in the day again and see if that was the problem that night (sometimes other things wake a baby up and we assume it was one thing).

      OR I would try doing a 4 hour schedule in the day and see if that works to get him eating more at each feeding in the day. Check this post out also for ideas:

  3. Hey, my 7 week old had already merged into only one feeding at night usually 2:30-3:00 and like last week he started to wake twice per night again! What am I doing wrong?

  4. Hi, I am a Babywise mom with my third kid. My first two were sleeping through the night at 8 weeks but with my third we are at 15 weeks and she is waking up every 3 hours at night. We are in a solid 3 hour schedule during the day and a lot of naps I have to wake her up to eat. I have tried to soothe her and put her back to bed, but that rarely works. We are consistent with bedtime and try as much as possible with wake times but she will wake up early and I will try to feed on one side them out back to bed to wake up at our normal time. I’m at a loss as to what else to do. Please help!!!


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