When Will Baby Sleep Through The Night? Experts Break It Down – Romper

Sleep
Sleep deprivation is no joke.
Throughout the first few years of life, babies and toddlers have a long list of milestones to meet, and while they’re all important, there’s nothing like the relief that comes over a caregiver after the first time their baby sleeps through the night. After months of sleep deprivation, it’s pure bliss. The sooner you can get a full night’s sleep, the better. But when your baby will start sleeping through the night depends on a variety of factors, as experts explain.
“This is a tough question to answer because there really isn’t one specific age when babies (sleep trained or not) automatically begin sleeping through the night,” pediatric sleep consultant, Aubrie DeBear, Psy. D., tells Romper in an email. Every baby is different, and there are a lot of factors that play into when baby will sleep through the night, such as their environment, their routines, and their caloric intake. “Some babies can begin sleeping a 6-8 hours stretch as early as 4-6 weeks,” she says, “and on the other side, I know families with toddlers who are still waking every 2-3 hours throughout the night.”
The good news is that there are some things sleep-deprived caregivers can do to encourage their baby to sleep through the night sooner than later.
For some caregivers, sleep training is a last resort and they’d rather let their child meet that milestone naturally. This is perfectly acceptable, but there is a wide timeframe for when you can expect your baby to get to the point of independent sleeping without any kind of help. “[It] will usually happen by the time the [child is] between 3 to 4 years old,” Natalie Willes, infant and toddler sleep consultant, tells Romper, “[but] it can happen earlier, with babies spontaneously sleeping through the night as early as 4 months.”
DeBear echos Willes, saying “without any parental intervention whatsoever… there is not a specific age that babies will definitely begin to sleep through the night.” And, while some babies do start sleeping through the night without any intervention, she says caregivers can encourage their babies to start sleeping through the night on the earlier side by “setting a strong sleep foundation.” If you’re going to go this route, the earlier you start, the better, according to DeBear. “For babies older than 6 months, these more gentle and general tools may take much longer to work because these little ones are so much more aware and can easily become frustrated if they’re accustomed to needing lots of outside assistance to get to sleep,” she explains.
Here are DeBear’s top five tips for encouraging your baby to sleep through the night without sleep training:
If the thought of your baby waking up throughout the night until they’re 3-4 years old scares you, then you can try sleep training. According to both DeBear and Willes, sleep training can usually begin as early as 4 months old (but get it cleared with your pediatrician before you start). Of course, if you still want to give your little one some time to develop the skill naturally on their own, you certainly don’t have to start at 4 months. However, once you get closer to the one-year mark, be prepared to intervene. “For most babies, if they haven’t started to sleep through the night without sleep training by 10-11 months, it’s less likely they will do so on their own (without sleep training/intervention) before their third birthday,” says Willes.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest factors in how well a baby will take to sleep training is whether or not the caregivers are actually ready, according to DeBear. “Babies generally take to sleep training really well,” she says, “but when the adults are anxious or unsure, that can have an impact on the process for the whole family.” It’s understandable for a caregiver to feel this way, but Willes says the best way to get over this anxiety is to learn more about what sleep training actually is. “Sleep training has everything to do with a kid learning to fall asleep on their own and much less to do with things like a schedule and whether or not a kid is still eating overnight,” she says. “Data shows that babies continue to wake the same number of times overnight even after sleep training [but] the difference is sleep trained babies know how to fall back to sleep without intervention.”
There are a lot of different sleep training methods and programs out there, and it’s up to the caregiver to decide which makes them feel the most comfortable. That said, whatever method you choose you will need to stick with it, because consistency is important. In fact, Willes explains that there needs to be consistency not just at night, but with naps, too. “It is much, much easier for a child to fall asleep ‘on their own’ at bedtime because the body is flooded with melatonin,” she says. “When a child wakes overnight without as much melatonin in their body, they will demand and expect the same help they get to fall asleep for naps.”
Here are some of the common sleep training methods:
Sleepless nights are hard on caregivers, so it’s totally normal to wonder when your baby will start sleeping through the night. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer, but if you’re eager to get some rest, consider this advice from DeBear and Willes. What do you have to lose?
Sources interviewed:
Aubrie DeBear, Psy. D., pediatric sleep consultant, doctor of clinical & forensic psychology, Tommee Tippee sleep expert, and founder of Baby Sleep Dr.
Natalie Willes, Infant and Toddler Sleep Consultant and Founder of Baby Sleep Trainer

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