One of the first things most new parents want to know is, “When will my baby sleep through the night?”

That answer varies from baby to baby, of course. No two are completely alike. In general, babies are able to start sleeping through the night between four and six months of age. Before that, their tummies aren’t developed enough to keep them full and satisfied through a full night’s sleep, and they will generally wake up at least once every four hours.

While you can’t completely control your baby’s sleep schedule, there are some things you can do, even during the newborn stages, to encourage your baby to sleep through the nighttime. While these aren’t fail proof, they do give you the best chances that your baby will begin sleeping through the night when he is old enough to do so.

Here are some of the best things you can do to help your baby sleep work towards sleeping through the night:

  • Be active with her during the day time. When your baby is awake during the daytime, play with her, sing to her, and otherwise stimulate her. This sends the message that daytime is fun and is really the best time to be awake.
  • Keep things calm at night time. Err to the side of keeping things boring. Feed her and take care of her needs, of course, but keep the lights down low and don’t play with or otherwise stimulate baby at night. If you sing to her, keep the songs soft and soothing.
  • Wait a minute (or a few minutes) before tending to baby. As parents, our first instincts are to rush to get the baby every time she moves or makes a sound. Often, if they aren’t hungry, babies will fall back to sleep if you leave them alone for a minute or two.
  • Put your baby to bed before she falls asleep. Most of us love having baby fall asleep in our arms. There’s nothing wrong with that, but putting baby to bed when she’s drowsy but not yet asleep can help her learn to fall asleep on her own.
  • Use a bedtime routine. As much as possible, follow the same routine before bed. Sing the same songs, read the same stories, give the baby a bath at the same time, etc. The more baby begins to associate these things with night time and going to sleep, the sooner she is likely to sleep through the night.

Understand that nothing is foolproof when it comes to getting your baby to sleep through the night. Some babies will take to it naturally, while others will continue to wake up in the middle of the night until well into the toddler stages. Be encouraged, though. Even the worst baby night owls eventually start sleeping through the night before high school.