How to get your baby to sleep through the night is a really, really important conversation when you are sleep deprived! This article about what to do when your baby won’t sleep through the night seems to be in a continual state of updating as we add more real parents advice, tips and tricks for getting a 1 year old to sleep through the night (and beyond). You are not alone! This advice comes from other parents who have been through the nightmare of asking…why my one year old won’t sleep through the night?
Sleep Training – Helping Baby Sleep through the Night
If your one year old won’t sleep through the night — we are here to help!
We asked our Facebook community to share their tips for helping a toddler sleep through the night to give some additional information on solutions that parents can try to help a baby sleep restfully. We think our readers will find this info really helpful because the best advice often comes from moms who have been there and found a solution that works for their family. We have been there and helping your baby sleep through the night is a goal that we are going to try to help you reach!
Related: Baby sleeping tips
Safe sleep environment, good bedtime routine equal good sleep habits and everyone in the whole family is happier in the long run! First, a basic question that puts all this in perspective…
Reasons Baby Won’t Sleep
It really depends on the age and stage of your baby why he/she isn’t sleeping. It is totally normal for a baby to wake for feedings until they are 6 months old. It is also very normal for a baby that was finally sleeping through the night to have a series of nights where they do wake up again. Experts point to separation anxiety, over-stimulation, being overtired or when they are ill.
“This is often a normal part of development called separation anxiety. This is when a baby does not understand that separations are short-term (temporary).”
When do babies start sleeping through the night?
What the Baby Experts Say About When Kids Sleep Through the Night
In general, baby experts will give the milestone of babies sleeping through the night at 4-6 months of age. Much of this wisdom of sleep patterns is based on the ability of a 4-6 month old baby to have a full night’s sleep without needing a feeding.
What Moms Say About When Baby Sleeps through the Night
Moms are going to give you different ranges based on their experience and the crazy thing is that each baby will be very different. Two of my babies slept through the night at between 2-3 months of age and the other one didn’t let me have a full nights sleep until 7 months of age.
Do not worry if your baby doesn’t fall within the expected sleep patterns – sleeping through the night at 6 months of age, that is really common which is why we have these ideas to help…
When can babies sleep through the night without feeding?
“When will my baby finally sleep through the night?” is something that I googled more than once holding a cranky baby in the middle of the night! Experts say:
“Most babies don’t start sleeping through the night (6 to 8 hours) without waking until they are about 3 months old, or until they weigh 12 to 13 pounds. About two-thirds of babies are able to sleep through the night on a regular basis by the age of 6 months.”
The good news is it is possible and WILL happen at some point very soon, but that doesn’t take away those long nights right now so hang in there. From a mom perspective, I had three boys that all eventually slept through the night but each was different even though they weighed about the same at each stage. One was sleeping through the night at 2 months while the other two waited until 4-5 months to give me the much needed sleep I needed!
Things to Try when Baby Won’t Sleep through the Night
Every parent has an idea of what might work, so we joined all of those ideas together for you! I’m sure that you will find something that can work for you & your family even when baby is having growth spurts or his/her circadian rhythms are off.
1. Put Baby to Bed Earlier Sleep Training
Move bedtime UP. Yes, it is crazy, I know, but try it.
Sometimes kids are overtired and they tend to have a harder time going to sleep and staying asleep.
Give it a full week of trying this. Even just 30 minutes sooner could be all that you need. This is something that worked for my kids. I felt a little crazy because their bedtime was extremely early, but it worked like a charm.
I think they needed more sleep than I originally thought and the thought of “sleep training” meaning that it isn’t all going to happen in one night helped me be more consistent and not give up quickly.
2. Feed a Banana before Bedtime
Try feeding them a banana before bed! It can help them sleep and can be a good idea for something simple to try especially for those kids who are trying to go longer and longer stretches without food.
Or mix it with oatmeal: a warm snack, like banana oatmeal, before bed, is always a good trick.
3. Start Bedtime Routine Earlier
Start the bedtime routine sooner, but read a little longer. Have more “relaxing” time before bed might be all that you need to calm your child down enough to fall asleep. This helps the sleep cycle by elongating a relaxation phase.
Have some relaxing fun with this finding quiet activities you can include into your routine and sleep props that signal to your child that they are about to have hours and hours of sleep…
4. Try Dream Feed
Is your baby still taking a bottle?
Try Dream-feeding your baby. This is where you will put a bottle to their lips, as you cuddle them. Let them drink, half-asleep, and then lay them back down gently when they are done. You have’t fully woken them, but you have filled their little tummies and have switched the time of their REM sleep just a bit. (Do not leave the bottle in the room, for safety reasons).
5. Get Serious About a Consistent Bedtime Routine
Have a nightly routine: bath time, lavender lotion, snack, bottle or a warm cup of milk, then bed.
This was one of the most valuable things that helped change things in my house with young children. Every night we did exactly the same thing which included the exact same bedtime book.
Yep, we can all still recite that book from memory!
6. Change from Milk to Water at Night
If your pediatrician gives the OK (after 12 months), you may want to switch to water when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, instead of milk for night feedings.
Many babies dislike this and will start sleeping through the night, as there is not quite the desire to wake up if you are just getting water.
7. Try a Hug Instead of a Bottle
You could even try just snuggling or giving a little hug, instead of offering anything to drink (if you are offering a bottle).
“It is perfectly normal for a child to wake during the night… all in all, you are blessed. Enjoy your baby.”
8. Try a Later Bedtime
Do the opposite of #1 and try putting them to bed 30 minutes later, if they have a very early bedtime.
I always tend to try the earlier bedtime first, as I think that being overtired leads to difficulty falling asleep and sleeping, but if this doesn’t work, try the opposite. (7:00 – 7:30 is a good bedtime to aim for at this age, depending on how early they wake up).
Don’t be afraid to try things. Your home is a good sleeper laboratory filled with experiments for YOUR child.
9. Stand Back & Analyze
Is she trying to walk or do something new? Growth spurt? Ear infections? Starting solid foods? Is it sleep regression?
Remember that this almost always causes sleep disturbances. She may be burning more calories throughout the day, or wanting to stay up and ‘practice’ the new skill.
10. Change Afternoon/Evening Feeding Schedule
Add an extra feeding in the evening or late afternoon.
11. Check for Ear Aches
Be sure that it isn’t your child’s ears that are bothering them.
Ear pain typically hurts more when the child is lying down, so many kids will start to wake up if they have an ear infection or if they are teething.
12. Daylight Only During Day
Try being aware of when your 1 year old is being exposed to daylight and dark and sync that with their sleeping schedule. During the day, try to expose them to natural light and then have them sleep in a dark room. Keep it dark if you are doing a bedtime feeding or late night diaper change to not disturb nighttime sleep with light.
Because my kids always seemed to go to bed before it got dark, black out shades on the windows were really helpful!
Remember that this will end, soon enough. “Our job as parents isn’t to make them adults as soon as possible, but to help them grow and thrive. This, too, shall pass. Take turns with dad, if you can, getting up with her. Hang in there!”
~ Erin Rutledge
13. Cut Back on Naptime
Cut back on daytime naps and daytime sleep time.
If your child naps for two hours, cut it back to 90 minutes or even just an hour.
This is one of those “last resort” type ideas…most of the time kids need more sleep, not less!
14. Add More Playtime Outside
Add more outdoor playtime during the day.
Kick the ball around, go on a scavenger hunt, play on a trampoline… whatever it is, let them burn that energy during the day, so they are ready for bed at night.
15. Try to Wait and See…
Wait to see if she goes back to bed after she wakes up. Give her 5 minutes or so. Many babies wake just a bit as they move into REM sleep.
16. White Noise Machine for Good Night’s Sleep
Choose a white noise that can help calm your young child (even newborn babies love white noise because it makes them feel like they are back in the womb). For one of my kids I always used ocean sounds and it seemed to help with separation anxiety.
17. Alter Feeding Amount at Night
Babies rarely need nighttime feedings at this age. It may be out of habit. Try reducing the bottle by an ounce a day.
18. Try a Night Light
Try a night light. It is around this age that they start to notice how dark their room really looks.
19. Sleep Training…for You
Check out the Coos to Snooze ecourse – it is a brilliant system designed to get your baby sleeping and what’s more, if it doesn’t get your baby to sleep, you get your money back.
20. Give Yourself a Break and Take a Deep Breath
All in all, every child is different, as is every parent. There are so many great ideas, from parents who have tried them, but you will need to find what is best for you and your child. If the waking doesn’t bother you, maybe you can think of it as your one-on-one time.
I know that it is hard in the middle of the night to have perspective and realize sleep training CAN happen and your child CAN sleep longer stretches. Don’t give up on the sleep cycle.
If you are ready to sleep through the night, try out some of these suggestions and see what works.
We’d love for you to share your experiences in the comments below to help other parents who have a 1 year still not sleeping through the night…
Sleep Training Age
At what age can you let a baby cry it out?
There are different answers for this depending on what expert you are following when it comes to sleep training. In my experience, I let my mom sense kick in and do what I thought was best for each child which was a little different. This is the pattern I followed that worked great for me with my 3 kids:
- Infant (before 3 months when they were awakening in the night regularly): I would respond to cries in the middle of the night pretty quickly for feedings, complete the feedings in the dark or poorly lit room with very little movement and then put them right back in the crib.
- Baby (3-6 months when the pattern of waking in the night was lessening): I would decrease my response time to the first cries to see if they might return to sleep without a feeding. Depending on how it went over several nights, I would either revert back to a quicker response time assuming they weren’t quite ready or keep extending response time until they were fully sleeping through the night.
What is too early for sleep training?
Experts are all going to disagree on this, but this mom says if your baby has not reached 12 to 13 pounds or has some other complicating issues, I wouldn’t start until those things have been resolved.
13 Month Sleep Regression
How long is 13 month sleep regression?
There isn’t a lot of medical research on what is commonly called the 13 month sleep regression and none of my kids experienced it, but it is generally acknowledged that:
“Babies typically exhibit sleep regressions right before a period of intense neurological development”
Things like your child starting to walk, talk, teething and changes in nap schedules can disrupt their nighttime sleep temporarily. Hang in there and get your child back on schedule as soon as possible with some grace.
Melatonin for 1 Year Olds
Melatonin is a natural hormone your body produces that helps regulate sleep cycles. It is a common supplement adults take to help fall asleep although the research is unclear whether it actually helps. Because it is unclear of all the potential side effects, it is recommended that children should not be given melatonin without sound medical reason and monitoring.
What can I give my 1 year old for sleep?
Talk to your doctor about options if your one year old just won’t sleep. In the meantime, try these sleep training options that have a proven record of helping millions of kids:
- Consistent bedtime routine
- Consistent bed time
- Bedtime feeding – breast feeding or warm milk/formula
- White noise
- Dark room
- Special blanket or stuffed animal
- Extra bedtime kiss