You may be eagerly anticipating the moment when your baby sleeps through the night, but babies can only start sleeping through the night after they have completed basic developmental processes.

Nutritional Needs 

Due to the small size of their stomachs, newborn babies can consume very low amounts of calories per feeding and need to be breastfed approximately 8-12 times within 24 hours. They also need to be breastfed every 2-4 hours during the night. Therefore, expecting a newborn baby to sleep through the night is not realistic and is unhealthy. From the second month onwards, the amount consumed per feeding increases. These increases in calories per feeding reduce the number of feedings babies need per day and allow them to sleep longer at night. 

Babies aged 4-6 months can sleep without feeding for 5-6 hours at night, wake up for a meal, and then sleep for another 2-3 hours. Additionally, the amount of time they spend awake during the day increases.


Another physiological process that needs to occur is the production and nighttime release of the sleep hormone melatonin. When this happens, your baby will start sleeping more at night. You can encourage nighttime sleep by reducing artificial light, noise, and physical stimulation close to bedtime. Establishing a bedtime routine and providing consistent cues that it’s time for sleep also support your baby’s ability to sleep through the night.

Sleep Issues

Like milestones such as sitting up and rolling over, sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone that doesn’t necessarily happen simultaneously in babies. It’s normal for a 4-month-old baby to still wake up once at night for feeding. However, if your baby is still waking up two or three times a night at 6 months old, it could indicate a sleep issue. Additionally, babies often wake up frequently if they’re experiencing a growth spurt, teething, or learning new skills such as rolling over, crawling, or standing up.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Sleep
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Much and How Often to Breastfeed.
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. Sleeping through the night
  4. Pennestri MH, Laganière C, Bouvette-Turcot AA, et al. Uninterrupted infant sleep, development, and maternal moodPediatrics. 2018;142(6):e20174330. doi:10.1542/peds.2017-4330