43 answers

How Long Until Baby Starts Sleeping Thru the Night?

My ds is 3 months and exclusively breastfed. He only sleeps about 3 or 4 hours at a time. My daughter was breast and bottle so she slept longer at night when we gave her formula. Im thinking in another month or 2 he can start having rice cereal which will hopefully help... Is this typical for an exculsively bf baby? Anyone have an idea of when I might start getting some sleep? TIA

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I actually have no clue about BF babies, both of mine were bottle/formula only.. lol

4 moms found this helpful

My kids were 18 months before they started sleeping through the night. Neither one was breast fed for more than 1 year. My solution was to bring them into bed with me, latch them on and go back to sleep.

Just a thought :-)

Seriously, though, the more I hear from other moms, the more I hear of kids that don't sleep through the night until they are much older.

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All babies are different. My daughter slept through the night at 6 weeks & she was exclusively breastfed.

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It's not about the food, it's about the schedule (in my experience). I used the Babywise method and my youngest slept through the night at 5 weeks. With the older one, we fed her every time she made noise (i.e. demand feeding, incorrectly), and so she didn't sleep through the night until she was a year old, poor thing (and poor us). Having experienced both, I'd recommend the Babywise method, personally! :-D

Best of luck!

ETA: Mindy, it is clear that you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about with regard to Babywise. Maybe try reading the book before pronouncing it "evil!"
ETA2: Mindy, again, just because you read it on the internet doesn't make it true. The book CLEARLY states over and over again that if the baby is hungry, you feed the baby. You are never to withhold food from a hungry baby. The point is, with parent-directed feedings, you use your judgment as a parent to determine if the baby is truly hungry or not, and following a schedule helps with that. There is no way that if you follow the advice given in the book, your baby would ever end up malnourished. It's laughable; my baby and those of all the friends I know who also used Babywise were very chubby, happy babies with rosy cheeks, and all of them were great sleepers. Again, while I respect all the time you have put into your training, you are relying on online hearsay to malign a method that works (and worked for literally thousands of years - Babywise is nothing new).

6 moms found this helpful

I'm surprised by some of these answers. 3 months is too young to be on a strict schedule and 3-4 hours of sleep is pretty average. Babies need to eat a lot, that's just how it is and my guess is that your daughter slept longer because she was a better sleeper or better at stocking up on nutrients during the day, not because of the formula. I'd say you just have to wait it out, which stinks for you, but it's what's best for your son.

5 moms found this helpful

Terrible, sleep deprivation, isn't it? There's no real answer to your question because it's going to depend on your baby. Rice cereal or formula won't have anything to do with it, and the new ideas are to skip the tasteless filler cereals and start with veggies. You can check with your dr about that, but either way, it won't have any effect on the number of hours sleeping. You can try sleep training in a short while if you're open to that. One of the best things we did was teaching our kids at a young age to put themselves to sleep! Good luck-I know it's rough!

4 moms found this helpful

I actually have no clue about BF babies, both of mine were bottle/formula only.. lol

4 moms found this helpful

iVillage has been around for 20 years? How old is the internet again?

About now.

We used Babywise, but Ferber is good. Key word is sleep training.

We did our son at 4 months. Took 4 nights. He cried the first about 15 minutes. It'll be very hard not to check on him - lean on hubby.

Next night he cried 10. Next night 5. Then just a minute or two.

We've all been sleeping soundly since (he's 13m now).

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful

It is not true, that Formula babies sleep longer or better.
Because, each baby, has different levels of appetites, hunger needs, development pacing, metabolisms, and weight and growth levels.

It is important, to nurse baby on-demand. Therefore, a baby's hunger needs are met. It is also important to make sure you are producing enough milk, so that, the baby IS getting enough intake. Daily. And 24/7, day and night.

BOTH my kids, were exclusively breastfed.
They both had HUGE appetites. I nursed them on-demand, anytime of day and night. And they were very healthy and grew like weeds.
And, it is just what babies do. They wake and feed. That is their job. In order to grow optimally and to develop optimally.

3 months old, is a growth-spurt time in a baby. Thus, they need to feed and they get hungrier more often and need more intake... to keep up with, them.

Every 3 months is a growth-spurt. In a baby.

You mention that your baby wakes every 3-4 hours.
To me... that is GOOD.
My kids as infants and babies, woke MORE often, than yours.

3 moms found this helpful

the reason he is not sleeping through then night is not breastmilk. i agree with whoever said it's about schedules...and i would add, habits. try to squeeze in an extra feeding in the evening, and make sure they are FULL feedings, and not just a bit til baby is satisfied or falls asleep. they can sleep through the night much earlier than most do, but many moms are fooled, thinking that they can't. also, try not to run to him right away when he wakes. he might go back to sleep alone, after fussing for a bit. you can also try having hubby go and comfort him, or going to him but not feeding.

3 moms found this helpful

it really depends on the baby. My daughter didn't sleep through the night till she was 12 months. My son did it at 5 weeks, and was doing a good 7-8 hours by 7 weeks. He was a big baby, almost 10 lb at birth.

You need to feed on demand. One thing you could do is see what happens if you let him fuss for 2 minutes. Sometimes we mistake wanting food for them just resettling. However, 3 months is a growth spurt period, you might want to wait a month. Another big spurt happens from 4-6.

And when I say fuss, I mean fuss, not cry. They are different sounds.

2 moms found this helpful

I'm one of those heathens that lets my kids cry at night...I don't know if I would call it crying it out...because I don't think I've ever let it go on past 5 minutes...and if it's really worked up crying...than I don't. I was told about 12 pounds is around when they start pulling longer stretches at nights - all of mine were pulling about 7 hour stretches by 3 months...sometimes longer. Usually around 2 1/2 - 3 months there is a midnight feeding that I can tell is really not all that necessary. I look at the clock next to my bed and I lay there and wait (5 minutes, 8-10 minutes if it's an on-off fuss)...it only took about 2 nights for their sleep to significantly improve. I've talked to some moms tho' that have tried letting their child cry it out...and two hours later they finally give up...I don't think I have it in me to do that :/...5 minutes feels like eternity enough as it is!

2 moms found this helpful

We did ferber. It worked for us.
We were incorrectly feeding "on demand." Meaning every time he fussed, we would feed him. Not every cry means hungry. Ferber helped us on both ends. It helped him sleep longer stretches. It helped him build an appetite between feeds. It gave me respite and a chance to rebuild my supply.

Good luck to you and yours.

2 moms found this helpful

Two years old? LOL! Our daughter was BF exclusively and we co-slept because she wouldn't take a bottle of pumped milk during the day so I was a milk-making factory from the time I got home until the next morning.

Also, I'd hold off on the solids/cereals until 6 months because babies' digestive systems aren't developed enough to handle it until that point. Doing so any earlier can set your child up for obesity and allergies. You can google that to confirm.

Good luck, it's hard in the beginning, I know!

2 moms found this helpful

My oldest slept through the night at 8 weeks. My younger one was over a year old. There is no definite answer. Cereal/solids are not recommended anymore til six months of age. When you do start, I'd skip the rice and go right to a healthier, whole grain cereal. Formula and solids don't guarantee more sleep. Your baby is waking to eat because they are supposed to be nourished around the clock.
Babywise is an evil, vile method that has actually caused babies to be malnourished. It doesn't benefit tiny babies to sleep through the night.
ETA: Catherine, I was a Bradley instructor for 15 years. I read pretty much every book out there and certainly familiarized myself with what was in Babywise. Perhaps you are unaware of the controversy surrounding this book? Hugely controversial. This is just one bit http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/2001/july8/12.20.html ; http://www.ezzo.info/primary/babywise-feeding/doctors-on-... there's tons more, and it's not new news. His methods are not in accordance with AAP recommendations on infant nutrition. There were investigations of malnutrition based on following this program. iVillage/Parentsplace, a parenting site that's been around nearly 20 years, actually had a disclaimer on their site since at least 10 years ago, saying that their site does not condone this method. Anyone who has questions about the Ezzo method can google Babywise Controversy. I did not write any of the info out there!

2 moms found this helpful

No one really knows when your little one will finally sleep through the night. It depends on brain development and a host of other factors including genetics. I breastfed my babies and although they slept up to 5 hours a night straight from 2-4 months of age, once teething hit, we were up every hour or 2 all night long until the last tooth came in at age 2. I hope your experience is different. Research doesn't support the belief by many that feeding rice cereal before bed and sleeping longer at night. I encourage you not to focus on how much sleep you are losing with your baby. This too shall pass and new challenges will come your way. Try to enjoy each stage.

2 moms found this helpful

Very typical!

All 3 of my exclusively breastfed babies nursed day and night as they needed. Some nights it meant I was up every 2 hours nursing...other nights would yield 6-9 hour stretches. It varried because of their growth spurts and lulls, teething (and therefore needed to nurse for comfort), etc.

I've never tried to put my babies on a schedule or sleep train them because I believe that if a baby is hungry, they should be fed. If a baby needs comfort, they should be comforted. Others will disagree with me, and that's fine - this is what's worked for ME and my family.

3 or 4 hour stretches at 3 months is pretty good for a breastfed baby. As he gets bigger, he'll need to feed less frequently. I also found that once solids were introduced at 6 months (please don't before then) my girls would sleep a little longer for that first stretch (say, from 7pm to 12 or something).

1 mom found this helpful

My kids were 18 months before they started sleeping through the night. Neither one was breast fed for more than 1 year. My solution was to bring them into bed with me, latch them on and go back to sleep.

Just a thought :-)

Seriously, though, the more I hear from other moms, the more I hear of kids that don't sleep through the night until they are much older.

1 mom found this helpful

I personally think all babies are different. My 10 month old still nurses at night.

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Mine were exclusively breastfed, my daughter slept through the night from 2 weeks, my son 5.5 months. Around 4 months you can start sleep training your son, putting him to bed drowsy, not asleep, going to him but not picking him up when he cries during the night unless his cries are to nurse, changing his diaper in his bed and patting him to relax him so he can go back to sleep on his own, keeping just a nightlight on so he associates the darkness with sleeping.

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All babies are different. My daughter slept through the night at 6 weeks & she was exclusively breastfed.

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My daughter slept through the night around 6 months (we co-slept), but her son didn't sleep reliably until he was around 2.5, in spite of trying everything including CIO.

He would have slept if he could, but he was just too active and easily aroused by any sort of stimulus, including his own dreams and physical need to move. Once he reached 2.5, he became a champion sleeper, although he still wakes pretty early at 6 years.

But I stepped in a few times as a night nanny just so my daughter and son-in-law could occasionally get a full night's sleep. Perhaps you can find or hire someone to give you that relief. It is hard, especially when you don't know how many more weeks or months you'll have to survive on inadequate sleep.

Be aware that introducing cereal may actually have the effect of irritating his digestive system and waking him more. Also, in spite of the fact that cereal, being more solid, "should" take longer to digest, it doesn't. It's almost totally carbohydrate, which is broken down more quickly than the protein and fats in breast milk or formula, and some babies become hungrier faster on cereal. Watch for that effect.

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Some formula babies only sleep 2 hours a pop
Some BF babies sleep 12 hours a pop

The evil and dreaded "Every baby is different".

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I don't know whether it is "typical" or not. Many sources will tell you that breastfed babies can't go as long as formula fed babies so can't sleep as long at night. All I know is anecdotal: My firstborn was exclusively breastfed until he was 4 months old, at which point we began with rice cereal (that was the recommended age when he was a baby--he's almost 14 now). He was sleeping 7 hours at night by then (before starting the cereal). I followed the habits loosely based off of 'On Becoming Babywise' and it worked wonderfully well. My son never lost weight or went hungry. And he slept peacefully at night, and so did I. For a minimum of 7 hours (usually more) starting around 11-12 weeks old.

I can't speak for others.

My daughter was not exclusively breast fed, not past 4 weeks. She had some latching issues, and the pain and frustration for both of us became too much for me to deal with, on top of keeping track of my 3 yr old son. So we switched to formula. When she was about 6 weeks old, she slept for 6.5 hours.... I was worried I needed to wake her up. Nope. It just became her new normal for sleep. She was sleeping well, and continued (and still continues) to do so. She is now 10.

If your son won't sleep for more than 3 or 4 hours at night, I wouldn't necessarily assume it is BECAUSE he is breast fed.

ETA: by the way- I didn't sleep train my son. I NEVER didn't feed him during the night in an effort to try to encourage him to go back to sleep. I followed the ORDER of things outlined in Babywise (feed, awake time, sleep, feed, awake time, sleep,etc...except at bedtime--when you feed, put them to bed). My son naturally just slept longer and longer at night. If he woke, I fed him immediately and he always went right back to sleep. Always. There was never a time when either of my kids just "wouldn't go back to sleep" during the night (well, not counting the time he had a stomach virus at 11 months old, and was miserable). I truly believe in the ORDER of things (not scheduling things by a timer) being the key. It worked for both my kiddos and my SIL's.

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I have basically discovered over the years of having mine and then watching my friends have theirs that everything is pretty much normal. Some sleep all night right away others are wakeful through the first year. There is just no real rule for all of this. Hang in there, and yes I do think he will sleep longer once you can introduce some rice :)

I would put him on his tummy as long as no one smokes in the house and you have no reason to fear Sids. My daughter,who just 22,slept all night when she was a month old and I breastfed her. My son was two months old not sleeping through the night yet.I was putting him on his back as they were pushing at the time.I put him on his tummy and he slept through the night after that. He will be 16 this year.

Every baby is different. Both of mine we 11# at birth, big babies, and formula fed. My first slept about 12 hours straight thru from about the 3rd day home from the hospital. My second would wake up about 1:30 am and I called the doc and said 'WHATS WRONG WITH HIM??' LOL! They said to try a pacifier and it worked. I was blessed with easy babies. Good luck!

It was about 20 months for one child, about 4 months for another, a couple of the other grand kids it was about 12-14 months, one still gets up nightly to wander. It really just depends on the child.

Breast milk is digested quicker then fomula so yes it is normal. My son was bottle fed so he slept thought the night by 4mnths. My daughter is 2mnths old and now is down to one feeding.

I wouldnt put the baby on his tummy until he does it on his own and rolls. There is a reason for the sids warning and babies being put on their backs. Every baby is different. my child didnt sleep through the entire night until he was over one and he was eating table food by 9 months and still got up alot. so every child is different. Good luck and keep up the good work with patience~

My 5 mo boy started sleeping 6 hour stretches around 3 months. He is also breastfeeding exclusively, and is our third child. He sleeps 10 hours at night currently. The best advice I can give is throw out your clock, and nurse him more frequently during the day.

My kids never slept through the night until they were 5 months old and they still woke up sometimes for an extra feeding from time to time.

My daughter slept through the night at 10 weeks. My son was 19 months! Sorry for not being able to give you a magic answer!

Hope you get sleep soon!!!!!!

Yes ur fine do what baby asks not what proffesionals think should be done.

Every baby is so different.

My first daughter dropped her nighttime feeding when we had to go away for a destination wedding in VT. My parents were not willing to get up and heat-up a breastmilk bottle at night so they fed her formula bottles and I guess she decided that since she wasn't cuddling with Mommy and wasn't getting the real deal, it wasn't worth it.

My son (my second child) dropped his feeding at about 7 months. He was just such a big baby, that I do not think he needed it. He has always needed his sleep more than food. (He still takes a nap at 2.5YO!!)

My youngest daughter dropped her nighttime feeding at 4 months which was great for me having gone back to work at about that time but then she changed things up and started nighttime feeding again at like 9 months and was on and off again (more on mind you) till about 11 months. I still do not know why this occurred. The first few nights, I thought it was a growth spurt thing but then it continued so long. About that time the doctor was also starting to fuss over her being low weight for her size. Not an issue any more, lol!! She is back to sleeping through most nights now (about 14 months old).

If it is getting to be too much, then do what is best for you and your family (i.e. bring a formula bottle to bed and then nudge hubby to take care of a night time feeding a few times a week).

You are doing a great job!

It really seems to depend on the child. Most of my friends.were lucky and had kids sleeping through the night by 3 to 4 months. My kid on thw other hand, 13 months. Before that he was usually up 3 times a night. Hope you have a great sleeper soon.

My son: 3.5 months (when he could rollo over back and forth from tummy to back to tummy). my dd 16 months. Good lucks.

Both of my kids were completely breast fed and no cereal or solids until 6 mos old. First baby didn't sleep through the night until 12 mos old. Second came home sleeping in 4 hour intervals and after first 8 weeks slept 6 hours and then another 4. She slept through the night by 4-5 mos old. She always has been a better sleeper than big sis. Some of it is just personality and baby's needs!

My son is 13 months old and so far he has cut 13 teeth. And he has been a bad sleeper right from the start. He still wakes up every 3 hours ... I sometimes nurse him and when i give him the bottle, he wakes up after 4-5 hours. Towards the last part of the night, he wakes up crying every 45 minutes. Irritated. I am thinking maybe he has some sort of pain. But my doc says nothing is wrong with him. So i am going through the same problem.

You know, every baby is different. My 1st was on formula pretty early on and was not sleeping through the night until 3 months old. My youngest was exclusively breastfed, and was sleeping 5 hours at 5 weeks, 6-8 at 6 weeks and through the night by 2 months. I didn't giver her rice cereal until she was 5 months. I don't believe that helps them sleep through the night, nor does formula.

I'd suggest making baby's room a nice sleeping environment, nice and dark with a fan or other white noise. Make sure baby eats a lot before putting down for the night, sometimes when they fall asleep nursing they don't get enough.

3 months is about the time most babies sleep through the night so you should be close. Be sure you don't train him to wake up every 2-3 hours. My MIL did that and her first didn't sleep through the night until 18 months! :) If he wakes at night, is it just whimpering, or is he wide awake and starving. Be sure he's really needing food and not just comfort as well. Does he suck his thumb or a pacifier? See if you can introduce a pacifier, this can help him get comfort w/o you waking up or having to co-sleep. Also be sure he's in his own room. They will hear/smell you when you're in the same room and won't sleep as well (my kids woke in the night a lot when we'd travel and share a room!).

Best wishes!

The key is to make sure they are awake during the day. My second son was about 8 weeks old when I started making sure he was up at the same time each morning. I would nurse him and he would usually fall back asleep, so I would change his diaper to wake him up. I would pump while he was in the bouncy then play with him, do tummy time, ect. He would usually stay awake about 45 to an hour. When he was fussy, I would rock him to sleep (no nursing to sleep) and he would sleep for about an hour and a half. An we would start the cycle over again. At bed time I would nurse him and let him stay asleep. It took 3-5 days and he started sleeping longer stretches at night. By the time I went back to work at 12 weeks he was only waking once at night. He almost 5 months now and is sleeping through the night.

Of course my first son didn't start sleeping through the night consistently until he was 20 months. We realized that milk was upsetting his stomach at night (he was fine during the day) and switched him to soy. He slept the night as soon as we took him off regular milk. Obviously, I would not recommend that for your baby, but we aware that other things can cause them to wake up at night.

ETA - You will also want to try to feed him mostly during the day so try to feed him every 2 to 2q/2 hours. If he's getting most of his nutrients during the day he won't need to wake up at night.

All 6 of mine were different... I had one that was almost a year old before she sleep more the 5 hours at a time (bottlefeed), but I have also has one that sleep through the night (8-9 hours) at just 2 months (breastfeed). My youngest - almost 5 months has been sleeping through the night for about 2 months now, but she is bottlefeed - not by choose, but due to health issues with me after her birth. She gets her night-night bottle around 7:30 or 8:00 and then wakes around 5:30 or 6:00 for her morning bottle.

Honestly, you are just going to have to wait & see when he is ready to sleep through the night... till then try napping when he naps & try to get to sleep early in the evening to rest up.

Good luck & congratz on the baby & nursing.

It depends on the baby, you're not going to find an answer here. My exclusively breastfed baby slept through the night at 3 weeks and hasn't looked back, as you can read from the other answers this isn't always the case. Nap when he naps!

It depends on the child , maybe now or maybe in a couple years :)

all kids are different......my oldest was 6 weeks old. my middle one was 6 years old. lol she would wake up 2 or 3 times a night. my youngest was 2. good luck. :)

That really depends on the child. I have breastfed both of my kids for over a year. My daughter would sleep 3-4 hours from birth and would sleep 6-8 hours a night before waking up to eat after about 3-4 months. My son, on the other hand, just turned one and is still waking up 2-3 times a night (about every 3 hours-ish) to nurse even though he eats like a pig during the day. I realize this is the same answer as Denise K. wrote, but just thought I'd add my 2 cents so that you can see it really is dependent on the child.

My best suggestion is to find somewhere comfy (your bed or another bed in another room) and sleep-nurse when you can't stand being awake. What I did was I took my son's crib side off (it's one that converts to a toddler bed so the side comes off easy enough) and then I clamped the legs of the crib to the side of my bed so it is basically hooked to my bed and pushed the crib mattress tight against my mattress on the highest setting and tucked tightly rolled towels on the other side between the rails & mattress so there is nowhere for him to get stuck. This way, he can still sleep in his crib but he's also basically in my bed so I can just reach over and pull him in to nurse and roll him back into his crib when he's done. It's the only way I could not completely wake up and be AWAKE for an hour after he got done nursing.

Unfortunately, this is one of the pitfalls of breastfeeding, but there are so many other reasons to keep doing it that it outweighs the one or two bad things. You just have to find something that works for you and your baby. If you want to try reading a book about sleeping the "No cry sleep solution" is a good one. It won't tell you anything you couldn't have figured out on your own but it shows you how to go about making a routine and a "game plan" and makes you feel more confident.

Good luck!

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