How to Get Your Infant to Sleep Through the Night

Patient Expert
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Don't start too early! In the first few months of life, newborns have an irregular sleep schedule and will require regular feedings, diaper changes, and nurturing. However, by the age of six months, most infants are capable of sleeping through the night.

How much sleep should your infant get?

Although 12 to 15 hours of sleep are recommended for infants between four and 11 months old, 10 to 18 hours may be appropriate. If you feel your baby isn't getting enough sleep, read on!

A sleep-friendly environment

Babies don't need nightlights. If you decide you'd like one in the room anyway, choose one that's as dim as possible. A cooler room is better than a warmer room; aim for a temperature of around 65 to 70 degrees. Finally, avoid electronic toys that baby may be tempted to play with instead of sleeping.

Develop a regular schedule

Set a regular morning wake time, regular afternoon nap times (infants typically nap for 30 minutes to two hours between one and four times per day), and a regular evening bedtime. Stick to the schedule every day, including weekends.

Develop a bedtime routine

An evening routine helps your child learn when it's time for sleep. Consider turning down the lights an hour or so before bed. Avoid stimulating activities, and keep your voice lowered. This may be a good time for a bath followed by a bedtime story. The key here is to stick to a set routine.

Put your baby to bed awake

Try to avoid rocking or feeding your baby to sleep as this can become a hard habit to break. Instead, put your baby into the crib when they are drowsy, but not yet asleep. This will help them learn how to fall asleep independently.

Give your baby time to cry

If you run into the room as soon as your baby makes a sound, you're making it difficult for him or her to fall back to sleep on their own. This is a learning process (for both of you). Give your baby a few minutes to fall back to sleep before you enter the room.

Consider sleep training

This generally involves allowing your baby to cry for five or 10 minutes before you go into the room. At this point, enter the room and speak to (but don't pick up) your baby so they know you are nearby. Leave the room and repeat the process until they fall asleep.

Consistency is key

Sleep schedules and routines only work if you are consistent. Similarly, sleep training techniques do not work without consistency. It can be hard to hear your baby cry, but it's important for both you and your baby to be able to sleep at night.

Talk with your doctor if sleep issues persist

In rare cases, sleep issues may be symptomatic of an underlying medical condition. If you are concerned about your baby's sleep, talk to your doctor. Sleep is important for both you and your baby — so if you're struggling, don't be afraid to ask for help.