Get the answers to parents’ most common questions about their baby’s sleep.
When should my baby start sleeping through the night?
Most newborns need about 16 hours of sleep, but when they get that sleep varies from one baby to the next. Some have their days and nights backward at first, sleeping more in the day and less at night.
Between 3 and 6 months, many babies will start sleeping at night. Your baby won't be sleeping 10 to 12 hours at a time, but you will get a longer uninterrupted stretch after a night feeding.
Don’t worry if your baby is 4 months old and still isn’t sleeping that long. You can help her along by letting her sleep at night, not waking her to feed, and by keeping things dark and quiet. Save the exciting, fun things until daytime.
How can I get my baby to start sleeping through the night?
Keep it dark and quiet, and have a routine every evening that consists of quiet time -- maybe a bath, reading a book, or cleaning gums or teeth. Get her calm and drowsy before putting her in her crib. Be consistent: Put her down the same way each time. Make sure she is on her back for safety.
The goal is to put your baby in her bed drowsy. If she’s falling asleep too soon, start your calming, quiet routine sooner.
When your baby wakes in the night, wait a few minutes before checking in to see if she can fall back to sleep on her own. If she keeps crying, look in on her, but don't pick her up or turn on the light right away. If your baby continues to fuss and cry, she may be hungry or need a diaper change.
If your baby still isn't sleeping at night after 6 months, you can also practice a sleep-training method such as the Ferber Sleep Method.
How much nap time does my baby need?
When babies are born, everything is eat, sleep, eat, sleep, so you don’t really count any of that sleeping as naps.
Somewhere between 1 and 6 months, babies tend to settle into a 3-naps-a-day pattern, with each nap lasting 1 to 2 hours.
After your baby’s first birthday, she will likely be in a 1-nap-a-day pattern.
By about age 5, most kids lose their need for naps.
Should I let my baby cry herself to sleep?
It depends on the baby and her age. "Crying-it-out" sleep training methods, including the Ferber Sleep Method, are the most studied and work for many babies but not all.
Talk with your pediatrician about whether it’s right for your little one. Some babies get tired and go to sleep after crying, but some just get angrier.