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How to get your baby to sleep

When will my baby sleep through the night?

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When will my baby sleep through the night?

Find out how much sleep your baby needs, when they’re likely to sleep through the night, plus common sleep mistakes parents make.

 

There’s no magic formula to send your little one off to the land of nod, and remember the mantra: it’s only a phase. As hard as it is to hear, there are times when your baby simply won’t sleep – it’s all part of having a new baby, and you’re certainly not alone.

As your baby grows, you can start trying to help them sleep through the night. But, as we all know, it’s easier said than done.

Remember that each child is different - and, because of this, you'll probably need to try a number of different solutions to get your baby to sleep as he or she grows.

Try one of the top five baby sleep aids.

When will my baby sleep through the night?

It might seem like a miraculous, far-off time, but your baby will eventually sleep through the night. We surveyed more than 2,000 parents to find out what age their child was when they started sleeping through. By this we mean sleeping a six-hour stretch around five out of seven nights. 

Our results show the total percentage of babies who are sleeping through the night at different ages from 0 weeks to 12 months (cumulatively).

Our results reveal that 81% of respondents had their babies sleeping through the night at 12 months. But 7% of those we surveyed, whose youngest child is aged 3-5 years, said they still don’t sleep through.

1 Baby sleep patterns-01

How much sleep does my baby need?

As babies and toddlers grow, their sleep needs change. Newborns need a lot of sleep, but tend to sleep in short bursts of a couple of hours at a time, while at about three months they may settle into more of a routine. The below times are approximate measures for how much sleep babies and toddlers need at each age – although each child is different, and these are just a guide.

You can find the best sleep essentials with the help of our cot bed reviews and baby monitor reviews.

Sleeping needs of babies and toddlers
  Daytime Night-time
1 week

8 hours

8.5 hours

4 weeks

6-7 hours

8-9 hours

3 months

4-5 hours

10-11 hours

6 months

3 hours

11 hours

9 months

2.5 hours

11 hours

12 months

2.5 hours

11.5 hours

2 years

1.5 hours

11.5 hours

3 years

0-45 minutes

11.5-12 hours

Information care of the NHS/Millipond Children's Sleep Clinic

Common baby sleep problems

It's good to know you're not alone when it comes to baby sleep problems. We surveyed more than 2,000 parents to find out what were their baby's most common sleep issues. Baby not being able to self-settle came out on top, while in second and third place were the length of time a baby takes to go to sleep, and that common issue of baby waking up and not going back to sleep.

Solve your baby's sleep problems with the best baby sleep aids.

Common sleep mistakes parents make

Others have been through this and have the tales to tell. We’ve compiled some of the common mistakes parents make in trying to get their baby to sleep, and we asked parents about the more unusual methods of sleep-soothing that have worked for them.

Exhaustion and stress in the sleepless baby phase makes it hard to keep a level head, and you might not realise that some of the intuitive things you do, or things you don’t even notice, might be quietly foiling your plans for a quiet night. See if you’re making any of the mistakes below – you wouldn’t be the first – and read our tips on how to combat them.

1. Eye contact

It’s counter-intuitive, but making eye contact with your baby when soothing them back to sleep after a crying fit, or when they get drowsy in the evening, can energise your little one and encourage them to become more awake. If you need to soothe your baby in the middle of the night, try not to make prolonged eye contact.

2. Overstimulation at night

Creating a calming environment leading up to and during bedtime is vital: engaging in energetic play in the evenings can signal to babies that it’s time for playing together and not being left alone to sleep. In a similar vein, having a colourful whizz-bang mobile hanging above your baby’s cot might energise and distract rather than soothe them, and it’s good to steer clear of the TV in the evenings for babies and toddlers.

3. Inconsistency

You might be tempted to throw up your hands after two days of trying a new sleeping technique and move on to something else, but most strategies will take repetition and discipline from you before you can throw them into the ‘doesn’t work’ category. Unless you’ve decided you really want to stick with something else, try to give techniques a few days to a couple of weeks for you and your baby to get used to, and enable you to perfect a particular routine. It won’t help in the frustration stakes, but neither will switching things around all the time and giving in too soon.

It’s also good to maintain a consistent, calming pre-sleep routine for your baby – such as a warm bath, story, and bed, and put them to sleep in the same place and same environment each night where possible.

4. Late bedtimes

You might hope that your little one will tire themself out if you keep them up a bit later, but actually babies and toddlers can find it harder to get a good sleep if they’re overtired.

5. Looking for a quick fix

Maybe not the most comforting point, but it’s probably the most important one when dealing with a baby who won’t sleep. Young babies are biologically hardwired to sleep more erratically, so, under the age of three months, not a lot is going to stop your newborn from waking at odd hours demanding attention. After this, the issues are likely to continue for at least a few months, and the name of the game (not the fun variety) is perseverance and patience.

Top five middle-of-the-night baby sleep methods

Every sleep-deprived parent has turned to desperation-fuelled methods in the early hours to help their babies go to sleep, so we asked 120 parents about what middle-of-the-night methods they had employed successfully. From rocking back and forth incessantly with exhausted arms, to getting in the car and driving around until their little one nods off, here are some of the top five spontaneous tactics that parents told us they turned to:

  1. Gently rocking back and forth 55%
  2. Rhythmic shushing £32.5%
  3. Singing songs on a loop 24.2%
  4. Doing the bobbing up and down dance incessantly 24.2%
  5. Staying stock still while holding your baby sleeping - afraid to move a muscle 10.8%
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