The question on every parent’s lips: when will my baby sleep through the night? It seems most other aspects of parenting are just about manageable if sleep is ok. But that takes time for some babies. Here, our readers share their baby sleep experiences…
A baby is born. Everyone rejoices. New life! The magic of nature! And then, quite quickly, friends and family start asking: “So, how is s/he sleeping?” And as parents, we start googling – during the 3am feed – “When will my baby sleep through the night?”
It is the bane of every new parent’s life. Once baby sleep is sorted, it feels as if everything else is manageable: nappies, tantrums, unsolicited advice, buggy resistance, dribble. We will spent vast amounts of time, energy and – let’s be honest – money to help our baby sleep through.
As a parent, myself – of a three-year-old who has slept through solidly since she was six months old, and an eight-month-old baby who slept through last night but doesn’t usually – sleep is my favourite topic of conversation. I love it. Having it, as well as talking about it.
The NHS say that babies can sleep through the night from six months. For lucky parents, it’s earlier. But the six-month-mark tends to coincide with the introduction of solids (proper food) so the idea is that they should have enough in their bellies to keep them going for 11/12 hours at nighttime.
But I know from my own experience, and that of my friends, that six months often comes and goes and the baby is still up for a feed – or two, three or four – at night. And so the guidelines are just that: guidelines. And guidelines that don’t seem to tally with many real-life experiences.
To get the lowdown, I turned to The Early Hour’s readers on Instagram. I wanted to hear about other parents’ experiences of baby sleep: how much are they getting? When did their baby start sleeping through (if ever)? Are they now guaranteed a full night’s sleep with no weeping baby, looking for milk?
So I asked exactly that. Below is my original post, in italics, followed by their fantastic responses (there were lots – it’s a big topic – so I’ve selected a few)…
The question EVERY NEW PARENT, without fail, will ask themselves – and those around them – is: when will my baby sleep through the night? Those with more than one babe will know that it’s different for each baby, but I’d love to know: when did you baby start sleeping through the night? When did it first happen, and when did it become consistent and reliable? (If ever!).
I’ll start: he first slept through at eight weeks, has done it again at points but mostly has woken 1/2 times a night for a feed and still isn’t sleeping through consistently at eight months. However, we did some light sleep training night before last and last night he slept solidly – 7pm-6am. So maybe sleep starts here! Over to you.
lauraamiss: No.1 child slept through consistently from 6 months, no.2 child – 9 months, no.3: at 4 years we’re still waiting, but he does now mainly sleep through, however it’s been a very tiring journey with lots of ‘letting go’.
hollyjunesmith: Our daughter slept from 9-7 from about 4 weeks and we were frantic with worry but her weight was fine and of course it didn’t last. At 5 months she started waking 2-3 times and night and still does at 8 months, on really bad nights she wakes hourly but I think that’s teeth. I breastfeed her back to sleep for an easy life but I know that’s a bad habit and I just hope she grows out of it soon. I found introducing solids really confusing around sleep – was she waking because she hadn’t eaten enough, or because she was busy digesting away. Who knows?! Hope you have many more nights like last night!
____s.i.m.o.n.a___: We tried to sleep train Jackson last week and his sleep got WORSE!! Up four times last night. Is 6 month sleep regression a thing?! Thank god he’s cute.
doveanddovelet: First (now 5) slept through age 4.5 when started school. 3 year old sleeps through 3/7 days a week. 18 month old still up 3-10 times a night. I haven’t slept more than 4 hrs since pregnant with my first 6 years ago. It’s torture. But I’ve given up thinking about it. Can’t possibly be more than another year or two until they all sleep through.
misskerryf: So interesting reading these comments as I’ve been thinking the same! My son slept through from around 8 weeks. I breastfed him during the day and gave him formula at night. I was desperate for him to sleep through as faffing with bottles in the middle of the night in Nov/Dec seemed torturous. He’s now 6 and a very good sleeper. My daughter, Edie, is four months. She has slept through (when I say ‘through’, I mean from 11pm-ish to 5am-ish) a couple of times, but I take that as a fluke! Normally, she wakes at least once… often twice… sometimes more… Unlike my son, she is exclusively breastfed. We’re putting her into a cot in her own room this weekend. Will it make a difference? Probably not. But there is hope. And a parent always needs hope. Maybe some wine, too…
carolinerosewrites: Raf is still waking 6 times a night at 6 months… I’m going under.
gillianla: My 2-year-old has slept through the night a handful of times, but is usually up 2 or 3 times and needs a little cuddle. It’s tiring but a vast improvement from a few months ago. I can’t imagine getting a full night’s sleep now! He went to the grandparents’ for a sleepover and I hardly slept a wink, I used to have a solid 9 hrs pre baby.
billiesyoga: Once or twice a month from about 3 months and then up for 1-2 feeds most nights until 10 months when he started sleeping through solidly. Although he’s almost 2 and still creeps into our bed every so often now which I love!
careitoutsleepconsultant: It’s so different for every baby.
mama.sommer: I can assure you, that breastfeeding to sleep is NOT a Bad Habit! It’s the most natural way for sure!! Think of sleep more in another way, where it’s just about how fit you are, not about the hours of uninterrupted sleep. Sleep will come and soon you will miss those snuggle times in bed! Stay strong!
mothershoppers: Herb still wakes at least twice a night, every night. He is 15 months old. I have stopped feeding at night now but it hasn’t made a difference yet. My girl slept through reliably from about 10months with a few nights sleep training to encourage her to drop the 1am night feed. BUT she’s had a few sleep problems recently (refusing to go to bed without me cuddling her til she falls asleep!) she’s nearly 4. IT NEVER ENDS. I try not to think about it too much.
chloeweguelin: Can you talk me through this sleep training… Rudy is just the same – the odd solid night here and there… other wise one feed per night. Keen for that to end!
rebecca2106: My first slept through at 7months and remained fairly consistent, though he did stop napping at 18months. My second was almost 2 before he slept through but has always been fairly reliable with a day time nap. I did nothing differently each time.
elisejgreen: My son is 2.5 and sleeps through about 50% of the time. The other 50 we get up once or twice to resettle him. Hasn’t been fed through the night since 10 months, never had a dummy. We went to residential sleep school when he was 6 months old as he was awake every 45 mins to an hour all through the night and also a terrible day sleeper. Made a big difference to his day sleep straight away (routine, white noise and consistent ‘hands on’ settling) which in turn gradually made a difference to his night sleep too. We didn’t see any true progress until he was around 1 though (which is when he started sleeping bigger blocks and only waking a couple of times through the night) solids, formula vs breastfeeding etc never made a difference for him. I truly believe it’s largely due to his personality, he’s an incredibly busy and at times highly strung kid. There is no magic bullet or right or wrong, I slept on his floor for 12 months to lessen the night time runaround. It’s just bloody hard work, good luck everyone.
sisterbow: My 18 month old started sleeping through 7-6 consistently when she turned 1. It was always off and on and up at least once a night before. She now is only up in the night when she is teething (like now!) and sometimes wakes up for the day earlier than usual, anything from 5:30 up to 6:45. But I was always jealous of the babies sleeping completely through at a younger age! I think people class sleeping through differently too, for me it’s 10-12 hours with no waking! When she was younger the worse nights were when she hadn’t napped well in the day and was overtired or she hadn’t had much to eat or drink so would get thirsty in the night.
mariaa.de.laney: My first has Autism Spectrum Disorder, so sleep or lack of was a big issue for us. The more we tried go follow sleep training guidelines, the worse it got. He only started consistently sleeping through the night at 3.5 years. This is actually good for a child with ASD and we attribute it to letting go of the guidelines/ sleep training and a good night time routine. He was 5 before he could fall asleep without one of us sitting right beside him comforting him. Our second-born first slept through before the 12 week mark, a night here and there and has been sleeping through consistently since 8 months. Both boys, in case that makes a difference, and both breastfed.
kaff_hFirst: One first slept through at 7 months but after three amazing weeks it fell apart after an illness and he still wakes up maybe half the nights at 3 years old. My 12 month old has been sleeping through sometimes since 11 months. We have had maybe a weeks’ worth of nights of them both sleeping through – it’s such a treat. So long way off from reliable in our house!
melissaaahope: It’s lovely hearing about different experiences. It just shows us how bubas are indeed all so different. My almost 10 month old slept through ONCE at a few days old. Since then he’s up 2/3 times for a feed every night. Our problem is we bed share and have no other options at the moment, so I’m woken with him constantly. Any advice is oh so welcome. Bring help! And coffee!
ctrifonova: 3 years and still waiting…
When did your baby sleep through the night for the first time? Are you now guaranteed a good night’s sleep? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below…