What If My Baby Won’t Sleep Through the Night?

We recently heard parents of a three month old baby brag that she was a “good baby” and had been sleeping through the night for a month, for eight hours at a time. You might think that we’d be envious, and maybe you’re feeling a twinge of jealousy yourself right now, but experience and a little knowledge about babies has taught us better.

A healthy newborn can’t sleep for more than two or four hours per night without needing to wake up to feed. Their tummies just aren’t large enough to hold enough food, and their completely liquid diet digests too fast. If your newborn baby isn’t waking up at least once per night, it could be something to worry about.

By the time your baby is three months old, as theirs is, she should still be waking up at least once per night, and not generally sleeping more than four or five hours at a time. Had they been feeding her some solids, it would make sense that she was sleeping longer, but they weren’t. On that count, they were following their pediatrician’s advice and waiting until next month when the baby is four months old.

We encouraged them to talk to their pediatrician. Who knows, maybe nothing’s seriously wrong and they just hit the baby jackpot. But, if a baby is sleeping through the night at three months old instead of waking up hungry at least once, it’s definitely something you want baby’s doctor to take a look at.

When your baby is between four and six months of age and begins eating solid foods, she may be able to sleep through the night without eating if you give her a good feeding right before bed. But even then, “sleeping through the night” for a baby means about six or seven hours at a time. Babies won’t usually sleep eight hours or more at one stretch until they’re about nine months old. In some cases, they are considerably older before they sleep through the night.

So, what should you do if your baby won’t sleep through the night? Take lots of naps when she does, and be glad that you have a normal, healthy baby. And as for those that claim their baby is sleeping through the night? If you suspect they’re telling the truth (most aren’t, when it comes down to it), suggest that they take their baby to their pediatrician to find out why she isn’t hungry when she’s supposed to be.