Somewhere around 3 months of age, your baby’s nighttime sleep pattern should begin to change. You will find her sleeping for longer periods, and even sleeping through the night. While sleeping through the night for a baby still only means that she’s sleeping for about 5 hours at a time, it will pose a significant improvement in your own ability to get a good night’s sleep, at least relatively speaking.
At first, many parents become concerned that something is wrong when baby doesn’t wake up like he’s always done up until now, but you can rest assured that, as long as your baby is at least three months old, this is a perfectly normal (and frankly, desirable) development. There’s generally no need to wake babies up for feedings by this time in their lives. They have grown significantly and the amount of formula or breast milk their tummies can hold has increased significantly, as you’ve no doubt noticed during feedings. The gradual introduction of some solids into their diet after four months can also help them sleep for longer periods of time, as solids take longer to digest. Many parents find that adding a little bit of baby cereal to baby’s formula during his bedtime feeding helps him sleep for longer periods.
During this time, on the other hand, don’t be alarmed if your baby doesn’t sleep completely through the night. Your baby’s concept of night and day is still a bit fuzzy, and if she wakes up hungry or wanting attention, she will still likely cry to get your attention. The best thing to do to encourage sleeping through the night is to make nighttime care sessions as boring as possible for baby. Don’t get me wrong, you should take care of her needs, and comfort her if she needs comforting. But don’t play with her, turn lights on, or do other things that would indicate to her that it’s time to be awake. Tend to her needs, and try to help her fall asleep as soon as possible. Of course, at this age, they have a mind of their own, and you won’t always be able to get her right back to sleep, but if you are consistent about not stimulating her at nighttime any more than necessary, she will eventually catch the hint that when it’s dark, it’s time to sleep.
Look for your 3-6 month old baby to sleep somewhere between 12 and 15 hours total per day. The length of sleeping periods will vary somewhat. This is normal, and not something to worry about. If your baby is sleeping significantly less or more than 12-15 hours, consult your pediatrician for advice.