How to Get My Baby to Sleep Through the Night

Written by: Laura Hunter, LPN & Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN



Time to read 18 min

Do you lie awake at night, wondering when (if ever!) you’ll enjoy a full night's sleep again? Curious when the phrase "sleep like a baby" will finally apply to your own bundle of joy? And really, what exactly does “sleeping through the night” mean for your baby? If these questions are bubbling up in your mind and conversations, you're in the right place.

In this Moms on Call expert guide, we're going to unpack all those midnight questions. From decoding what a full night of sleep looks like at each stage of your baby's first year to sharing tried-and-true Moms on Call strategies to encourage those longer stretches of sleep, we've got you covered. We'll also tackle the common issues that keep your infant from snoozing soundly and how to overcome them.

So, grab a cozy blanket, a warm cup of tea (or, let's be honest, a reheated cup of coffee from this morning), and ease those nighttime woes with the Moms on Call Sleep Method - trusted by over a million families and counting. It's not just about how to get your baby to sleep through the night; it's about fostering a nurturing environment where your entire family can thrive.

The Basics of Sleeping Through the Night

First, we want to make sure you understand the simple, foundational pieces to the sleep puzzle. These basic elements pave the way for sleep success and will help to simplify (and de-stress) the journey of getting your baby to sleep through the night.

Use the way babies learn at each stage to foster great sleep habits. They learn by association and routine which is especially useful when we align these things with their natural rhythms. Our books map it out for you in outline format.

Control what you can control. We create an environment that is conducive to sound sleep and pair it with the security of a predictable routine. They do the sleeping. We cannot sleep FOR them. (We would if we could!)

Avoid giving up too soon. Babies have a built-in 24 hour clock and when we do the same things at around the same times each day, their bodies respond beautifully and predictably. Resetting their internal clock to “factory settings” takes about 3-5 days. Our babies know how to sleep, we just need to give enough time for their body to settle into the natural rhythm of life at each stage.

Sleep is foundational for the entire family. It gives newborns and infants time to grow, develop, and rest for daytime adventures. Sleep lets moms and dads start each day refreshed and ready to tackle the day’s to-do list! And when the whole household is well-rested, families thrive. Read The Importance of Sleep for the Whole Family for more.

Remember, your baby is safe, loved and capable of sleeping through the night. We just need to put the right things in place to support them.

What is Sleeping Through the Night?

Ah, the golden question that dances through the minds of many parents: What exactly is sleeping through the night? It's a term we hear all the time, but its meaning changes as your baby grows. Some experts consider 5 hours stretches as sleeping through the night. However, at Moms on Call, we consider your baby to be sleeping through the night at 10-12 hours of sleep.

Remember that the Moms on Call Sleep Method should only be used for healthy, thriving babies who are gaining weight. If you have any concerns about your baby’s growth or specific medical questions, always consult your pediatrician.

For Newborns (birth - 2 weeks old): We do not expect your newborn to be sleeping through the night in the first two weeks! For newborns, a stretch of sleep is usually 2-3 hours. Newborns have tiny stomachs, requiring frequent feedings every 2-3 hours, even at night. So, for these first few weeks, our focus is on feeding, not sleeping through the night. The First Two Weeks at Home gives you a great idea of what to expect in this brief, beautiful stage.

We have one goal during those first weeks and it is getting baby back up to birth weight . Establishing healthy feeding patterns, whether breast, bottle or combo-fed, is our key to ensure that baby is regaining the ounces that most lose right after birth. We also want to make sure that mom is recovering from delivery which means relying on a strong support system to watch baby so mom can rest, stocking the freezer with healthy meals, or pitching in with the dishes during the blur of the first two weeks. Read Supporting Mom Before and After Pregnancy for great tips.

For Younger Babies (2 weeks - 3 months): This is when we start to see some longer stretches of sleep. Your baby’s growth and the increased amounts they take during feedings are to thank for these extra zzz’s. The Moms on Call Sleep Method starts around 2 weeks for healthy babies who are past their birth weight. The Moms on Call Sleep Method combines a healthy sleep environment, predictable daytime and nighttime routines and soothing rounds to encourage your baby to get those longer stretches of sleep. A safe sleep environment includes a safe sleep surface, dark room, sound machine and swaddling for babies under 12 weeks of age. You’ll want to drop the swaddle at 12 weeks of age, 12 lbs or when baby starts to show signs of rolling over, whichever comes first.

When utilizing the Moms on Call Sleep Method, the realistic expectations for nighttime sleep by age are:

  • 2-8 Weeks: 4-6 hour stretches with occasional longer stretches

  • 8-10 Weeks: 6-8 hour stretches with occasional longer stretches

  • 10-12 Weeks: 8-10 hour stretches with occasional longer stretches

For Older Babies (3 months+): As babies reach the 12 week / 12 lb mark, we remove the swaddle and give them the opportunity to find their comfy spot and sleep through the night. With Moms on Call, this typically means sleeping from 7:30pm to 7am. This lets babies get the solid, restful night’s sleep they need for their development and gives their hard-working digestive systems a break. For more details on how to achieve this solid night’s sleep using the Moms on Call Sleep Method, refer to your 0-6 month book ( or grab one here! ) You can also check out the 0-6 month course for expert instruction on sleeping, feeding and routines. Moms on Call’s online courses model our popular one-on-one consults and will guide you through all the techniques that will help your baby sleep peacefully.

For Toddlers: Sleeping through the night (in their own bed) may or may not be part of your vocabulary at this age. Maybe you established healthy sleep patterns in infancy, maybe you have not had a full hour of sleep since they were born, or maybe you’re experiencing a common sleep disruptor. Whatever the case may be, it’s never too late for the Moms on Call Sleep Method. Toddlers need solid stretches of 10-12 hours of sleep each night plus an afternoon nap. We’re here to help you navigate any challenges you encounter so that your toddler is sleeping through the night in no time! Just like with babies, routine and consistency are key. Look at your bedtime routine and include stories, snuggles and family prayers. The consistency of these things happening at the same time every night will signal to your little one’s body that it’s time for bed. We typically see that toddler wakeups are related to illness, growth spurts, language explosions, or major life transitions such as moving or vacations. The good news is that these interruptions are usually quick to resolve when you have the key elements in place.

Understanding these stages and what sleeping through the night means at each can offer some peace of mind. It's a reminder that the sleepless nights won't last forever and that each baby reaches these milestones at their own pace. Celebrate the small victories along the way—each longer stretch of sleep is a step towards more restful nights for everyone. Persistence over perfection is a great mantra for this phase.

When Do Babies Start to Sleep Through the Night?

One of the most anticipated milestones for any parent is how to get your baby to sleep through the night. But when exactly does this happen? After working as pediatric nurses for over 25 years and consulting with thousands of families, we’ve found that usually by 8-10 weeks, we get an occasional night with a 10-12 hour stretch of sleep. These 10-12 hour stretches begin occurring more consistently by 10-12 weeks of age. Remember, this is for healthy, growing babies.

The Early Weeks: We do not expect newborns to sleep through the night. During the first few weeks, the priorities are getting the baby back to birth weight and managing this major life change for both baby and parents. If possible, find a way to take turns with nighttime feedings so that both parents can get a longer stretch of uninterrupted sleep.

The Magic Number 12: You may have heard of “The Magic Number 12”, which refers to babies sleeping through the night at 12 weeks or 12 lbs. Although we typically see an occasional 10-12 hour stretch of sleep around 8-10 weeks of age, we begin to see this more consistently between 10-12 weeks of age and around 12 lbs. As they begin to eat more during daytime feedings and their developing circadian rhythm begins to mature, we begin to see those 10-12 hour stretches of sleep at night.

What Factors Influence Sleeping Through the Night?

Several key factors can influence when a baby starts to sleep through the night:

  • Feeding: Whether breastfed or formula-fed, as babies begin to consume more during each feeding, they're able to go longer between feedings, including at night. The transition from feeding every few hours to making it through the night without a meal is a significant milestone. Nighttime feedings are necessary for the growth and development of newborns through about 10-12 weeks of age. As they grow, they require fewer nighttime feedings, eventually dropping them altogether. This allows for those longer, uninterrupted stretches of sleep.

  • Sleep Environment: Creating a calming, comfortable sleep environment can significantly encourage longer sleep durations. This includes a safe sleep surface, dark room, consistent temperatures of 68-72°F, and a sound machine. ( We love this sound machine! )

  • Swaddling: Swaddling under 12 weeks of age (or 12 lbs, whichever comes first) is a huge factor in achieving those longer stretches of sleep. It’s just as important to make sure that the  swaddle  is removed at the right time. Once a baby is around 10-12 weeks, 12lbs, and/or showing signs of rolling over, the swaddle can be more frustrating than helpful.

  • Bedtime Routine: Establishing a consistent bedtime routine helps signal to your baby that it's time to wind down for the night. This includes bathtime, a quiet story, and gentle cuddles.

  • Developmental Milestones: Reaching certain developmental milestones can temporarily disrupt sleep patterns. Things like teething, learning to crawl or walk, and growth spurts can affect how to get your baby to sleep through the night.

  • Encouraging Longer Sleep Stretches: Parents play a crucial role in helping their babies learn to sleep more soundly. Consistency with bedtime routines, gradually extending the time between nighttime feedings, and allowing babies the opportunity to self soothe are all strategies that can pave the way to uninterrupted sleep.

Even the best little sleepers will have some ups and downs, with periods of regression and improvement. The key is patience, consistency, and adaptability. Celebrate the milestones as they come, knowing that those restful nights will become a regular occurrence for your family with time and a little guidance.

How Can You Encourage the Transition to Sleeping Through the Night Without a Feeding?

For many parents, the prospect of their baby sleeping through the night without the need for feeding is a pivotal milestone. It's not just about getting more sleep (although that’s a huge perk). It’s about your baby reaching a developmental stage where they can comfortably sustain longer periods without eating. So, when does this blissful transition typically occur, and what role does feeding play in achieving those uninterrupted nighttime zzz’s?

The Role of Feeding in Sleep Patterns:

During the first two weeks of life, babies have small stomachs and high nutritional needs, which means they need to feed frequently — including throughout the night. However, as they grow, their stomach capacity increases, and they start to take in more milk during each feeding. This development is crucial for stretching out the time between feedings, eventually allowing them to make it through the night without waking up hungry.

Making the Transition:

  • Newborns (birth - 2 weeks): Newborn babies' stomachs are incredibly small so they need feedings every 2-3 hours. During these first weeks, our goal is to help baby reach their birth weight so it will feel like all you do is feed your baby, change diapers and wash bottles. These two weeks are a blur so soak up the sweetness because it doesn’t last long.

  • 2 weeks to 12 weeks: During this time, they are gradually increasing their daytime intake. You will notice that they go from 2-3 feeds during the night to 1-2 feeds during the night and, by 6-8 weeks of age, they are pretty consistently eating 1 time during the middle of the night. This is great news! At 8-10 weeks of age, you will begin to get an occasional night of no feedings and then by 10-12 weeks of age, this will happen more often than not!

  • 12 weeks or 12 lbs: At this age, babies’ stomachs are growing, feeding is well established and we’re able to let babies enjoy those longer stretches of sleep. Babies will transition from round the clock feedings to one overnight feeding to a full night’s sleep with our help along the way. The Moms on Call Sleep Method combines a healthy sleep environment, predictable bedtime routine and southing rounds to let little ones find their spot for a good night’s sleep. Through the transition, we always remember that baby is safe and loved and you will be there to greet them with open arms in the morning. You’ve got this!

Encouraging the Transition:

  • Daytime Nutrition: Ensuring your baby gets enough to eat during the day is a critical step in helping them drop nighttime feedings. Make sure that baby is eating efficiently and getting plenty in those daytime feeds.

  • Consistent Bedtime Routine: A soothing, predictable bedtime routine can help signal to your baby that it's time for a longer sleep period. This might include a bath, a book, or some quiet cuddles.

  • Comfort and Reassurance: Sometimes, babies wake up during the night out of habit or the need for comfort rather than hunger. For babies 2-12 weeks of age, if they take more than 5 minutes in a row to get back to sleep, prior to feeding, practice the pause. Then check their swaddle, shush, rub their belly, and/or offer a pacifier. For babies over 12 weeks of age who are out of the swaddle, begin to extend the time between going in to soothe them, allowing them to find their comfy spot. For the exact steps in the Moms on Call Sleep Method, refer to the Sleep section of the 0-6 month book . The great thing about this sleep method is that it is so simple and straightforward. No discussions between parents about what to do next. It’s all laid out for you step by step!

Listening to Your Baby:

You are the best parent for your baby. If you have concerns about phasing out nighttime feedings, consult your pediatrician. During the conversation, you’ll learn if your pediatrician is concerned or gives you the green light to encourage longer stretches at night.

Remember, transitioning away from nighttime feedings is a significant step towards sleeping through the night, but it’s just one piece of the sleep puzzle. Helping baby establish healthy sleep patterns is a combination of the sleep environment, nutritional needs, and developmental milestones. Patience, flexibility, and a dash of perseverance will be your best allies as you and your baby navigate this path together toward restful, uninterrupted nights.

Why Won’t My Newborn Sleep Through the Night before 12 Weeks?

Every parent has been there, standing over the crib at an ungodly hour, wondering, "Why won’t my newborn sleep through the night?" If this is you, take heart. There are several perfectly normal reasons why your newborn under 12 weeks of age isn’t sleeping through the night, and understanding these can help you navigate this challenging phase with more ease and less stress.

Things to Remember:

We only use the Moms on Call Sleep Method for babies who are healthy and gaining weight over two weeks of age. Newborns should be eating every 2-3 hours round the clock!

When implementing new routines, it's normal to take three steps forward and one step back as they settle in. We advise parents to avoid making knee-jerk reactions to change everything over one bad night. It's important to stay consistent and realistic in their approach while keeping their focus on the baby's well-being.

Common Reasons for Nighttime Wakefulness:

  • Frequent Feeding Needs: Newborns have tiny tummies and require frequent feedings around the clock during those first 2 weeks. This natural need for nourishment every 2-3 hours is the primary reason newborns don’t sleep for long stretches.

  • Developing Sleep Cycles: Newborns still need to develop the circadian rhythms that help older babies and adults differentiate between day and night. Their sleep cycles are much shorter and more irregular, leading to more frequent awakenings.

  • Inconsistencies in Routine: Leaving out a piece to the sleep puzzle creates confusion and can lead to difficulty with staying asleep for longer periods. Be sure all of the key elements are in place (daytime routine, bedtime routine, safe sleep environment, blackout curtains, white noise and swaddling for under 12 weeks/12 lbs) to set the stage for sleeping through the night.

Moms on Call Strategies to Encourage Better Sleep:

  • Establish a Routine: A consistent routine from day-to-day helps your baby know what to expect and when. A soothing bedtime routine can help signal that it’s time to sleep. This includes an evening bath, reading a book, gentle rocking, or swaddling.

  • Swaddle: If under 12 weeks / 12 lbs and not showing signs of rolling over, the Moms on Call Swaddle can help soothe your newborn, making it easier for them to fall and stay asleep.

  • Create a Safe, Sleep-Conducive Environment: Ensure your baby’s sleeping environment is comfortable, a safe crib free from any stimulations (mobiles, toys, or stuffed animals) with a suitable room temperature of 68-72°F. Turn on a white noise machine loud enough that you can hear from outside the baby’s room with the door closed. The Moms on Call mattress is a great option for a firm, breathable mattress for birth through toddlerhood. For babies under 12 weeks of age, you can also use soothing rounds to encourage your baby to fall back asleep on their own.

Why Won’t My Baby Sleep Through the Night after 12 Weeks?

After babies are around 10-12 weeks 12 lbs and are thriving, they are able to get those longer stretches of sleep at night. If your baby still has frequent nighttime wakings, take some time to troubleshoot these areas.

Common Sleep Disruptors for Babies:

Sleep Environment: The baby’s room should be dark (blackout curtains can be very helpful), between 68-72°F and have a white noise machine.

  • Overstimulation : It can be hard for babies to go from active play to rest. Be sure that your baby isn't overstimulated in the evening hours.

  • Lack of Routine: Babies thrive on routine. Our nighttime routine lets them know that it's bedtime and time to wind down and rest.

  • Inconsistency : Let your baby find their comfy spot to rest through the night. You will hear them at night as they transition in and out of sleep cycles. After a few nights, most babies will settle in and you’ll be getting a rested, happy, smiling baby out of the crib in the morning.

  • Sleep Regressions: Sleep regressions or, as we like to call them, developmental breakthroughs, such as dropping the swaddle and learning to roll over can disrupt sleep. Make sure that once they are out of the swaddle, they are sleeping in nice, cozy footed PJs. This enables them to scoot and move to find their comfy spot.

Strategies to Encourage Better Sleep:

  • Consistent Bedtime Routine: Maintain a calm, predictable bedtime routine. This might include a bath, reading a book together, or some quiet cuddle time. Consistency helps signal to your toddler that it’s time to wind down.

  • Create a Sleep Environment: Ensure the room is dark, use a white noise machine, and an ideal room temperature of 68-72°F.

  • Stay Calm and Consistent: Make sure you and your partner are on the same page for using the Moms on Call Method. For babies under 12 weeks of age, use soothing rounds to let your baby know they are safe and loved. For babies over 12 weeks of age, soothing rounds are not needed. Remember, your baby is safe, loved and can do this! Stay consistent and be patient through the transition (usually only 3-4 nights).

  • Don’t Do it Alone: Consider partnering with a  Moms on Call Consultant  for personalized support and an expert voice to guide you through the ups and downs.

How to Teach a Baby to Sleep Through the Night

Hint: We were all born knowing how to sleep! Sleeping is not a skill that needs to be taught, but we can help create some good habits that encourage healthy sleep patterns. For healthy babies who are gaining weight, the Moms on Call Sleep Method will help guide your little one toward longer, more restful nights. No overthinking required. The 0-6 month book breaks it down into steps that even the most sleep-deprived parent can follow. Here’s an overview of strategies that have helped countless families (over a million and counting!). For a deep dive into each method and to uncover the full range of techniques, we recommend exploring the Moms on Call books , where we share our comprehensive methods and practices in detail.

Establish a Routine:

Consistency is key when it comes to how to get your baby to sleep through the night. Establishing predictable daytime and bedtime routines set the stage for sleep and help to signal to your baby when it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Daytime routines influence nighttime, so being consistent during the day is equally as important for creating healthy sleep patterns.

Create a Safe, Sleep-Conducive Environment:

Your baby’s sleep environment should promote comfort and safety. This means:

  • A safe sleep surface

  • Bare crib (no blankets or stuffed animals)

  • A dark room for nighttime sleep

  • Swaddling if under 12 weeks/12 lbs and not showing signs of rolling over

  • Temperature of 68-72°F

  • White noise machine

Note that we are not worried about blocking out household noises! It’s best for babies to learn to be adaptable to different sleep environments because the noise level is not something that can always be controlled. We use white noise to help the brain relax and transition to deep REM sleep.

Sticking to a Schedule:

Babies thrive on predictability. As your family sticks to a schedule ( that even adapts to crazy days! ), your baby will know that bedtime and wake up time are the same everyday.

Encourage the Natural Progression of Sleep:

We don’t need to teach our baby to self-soothe. Once they are around 12 weeks of age, they will automatically figure out ways to comfort themselves, such as sucking on their thumb or finding their comfy spot. It’s important to give your baby the opportunity to settle down on their own, even if it means they fuss for a few minutes before finding their peace.

Embracing the Journey to Restful Nights

The nights may feel long now, but with patience, consistency, and a sprinkle of guidance, peaceful sleep for your whole family is possible. The strategies we’ve shared here are just the beginning—a foundation upon which you can build a personalized approach that suits your baby’s needs and your family’s lifestyle.

For a comprehensive guide on how to get your baby to sleep through the night, including specific routines, feeding tips, and how to handle nighttime awakenings, consider turning to the Moms on Call books and online courses. Our detailed methods and practices are designed to support you through this journey, offering the knowledge and confidence you need to navigate these sleepless nights. And, for more support, our Certified Consultants (who are also nurses and moms) are ready to walk with you side-by-side, supporting your individual journey. Our goal is to empower you with the tools to create a nurturing, restful environment for your baby—and for the whole family.

Co-Founders of Moms on Call

Laura Hunter, LPN and Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN

Co-Founders of Moms on Call, Pediatric Nurses and Moms to 8 kids between them, Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker created Moms on Call to simplify parenting. Through their books, online courses, podcast and content, they help parents everywhere navigate the first four years with confidence and better sleep.

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