Why Won't My Baby Sleep Through the Night?!

September 29, 2016

When it comes to newborns and sleep, which do you think parents and nannies are most concerned with?

  • Ensuring safe sleep, preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • Learning how to properly put infants to sleep
  • Setting a regular sleep schedule
  • Understanding how sleep affects infant’s brain development

In this article, we’ll consider factors that contribute towards productive sleep habits for your infant. In addition, we’ll get a better understanding of how much sleep infants need, helping them set a regular schedule and ways to ensure that their sleep environment is safe.

Why Sleep Is Important For Babies

3 reasons sleep is important for newborns

1. Growth

Babies grow an accelerated rate and need more sleep than their parents.

2. Learning

Newborns are also absorbing tremendous amounts of information, so they need time to rest and process what they’re learning.

3. Brain Development

Scientifically, sleep plays a significant part of the development and maturation of a babies brain and has an impact on their memories in the future. Sleep also contributes to a babies behavior and studies have found that babies who did not get enough sleep were often overweight and cranky.

How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?

One of the difficulties that parents have, especially with their first baby is a lack of sleep because the baby sleeps sporadically at night and intermittently during the day. Parents should keep in mind that the newborn is still adjusting to life outside of the womb. As the baby gets older their sleep at night will increase.

Sleep Guidelines by Baby’s Age

In the video above, Dr. Marleigh Moscatel spoke on the amount of sleep needed for babies of various ages:

“We’ve got some general guidelines that detail how many hours of sleep the average child needs at different ages. Every child is different, some may need up to two hours more or less sleep than others…

A one-month-old baby — needs about eight and half hours of sleep at night and seven hours of nap time, which is often broken down into three, two and a half chunks of sleep, for a total daily sleep time of 15 hours and 30 minutes.

Three-month-old infants — need more night sleep, clocking in 10 hours of nighttime shuteye and five total hours of nap time, often broken into three naps, for a total daily sleep time, of 15 hours. Keep in mind that until most babies are at least four months old, their nighttime sleep will probably not be continuous. There is still a lot of middle of the night awakening…

Six months olds — are sleeping even more and for longer stretches at night… They’re clocking in about 11 hours of night time sleep and nap time sleep is about three hours broken into two naps, for a total sleep time of 14 - 15 hours.”

Helping Your Baby Sleep

Newborns and Young Babies Need Help to Sleep

When putting your newborns and infants to sleep, here are some invaluable pointers to keep in mind:

  1. Infants need to be assisted when going to sleep. Their initial sleep patterns are very light. Some parents have mentioned that their children need to be fully asleep before that put them in a crib or move them.
  2. As we previously mentioned, babies sleep intermittently and parents have to provide assistance going back to sleep.
  3. Don’t pressure your babies sleep patterns. As they develop and mature, they will naturally develop healthy sleep patterns.
Teaching Self-Soothing

It’s important to keep in mind that parents play an active role in helping a baby learn to sleep on its own. This is achieved by putting the infant in their crib before it falls asleep. Jean Kurnhardt, co-director of Soho parenting, spoke about ways parents can help in the video above saying:

“In the first 8 to 12 weeks of life, if your baby can do this easily, by all means, start to practice putting him down awake and let him fall into a deep sleep without your extra help. If however, he really needs the extra rocking, body contact or sucking to fall asleep, these early weeks are the ones to give him just that.

Babies like adults go through cycles of deep sleep, and brief awakening throughout the night… In the first few months when babies are meant to feed through the night, this will not present a problem. They wil however, need to learn how to fall asleep and how to get back to sleep on their own after these normal, intermittent night wakings…”

How to Help Your Baby Sleep Through The Night

Helping your baby sleep through the night also includes avoiding interruptions. Here are some tips to consider to help eliminate interruptions.

1. Wet diaper - Find a high-quality diaper that is soft, comfortable and does not leak to help keep the baby dry

2. Hunger - Babies sleep better when their bellies are full. Ensure they are well feed before going to bed.

3. Schedule - Initially it is important for parents to learn a babies sleep signals (yawning, fussiness, eye rubbing, etc) and set a schedule that assists them

4. Noise - Since babies are light sleepers, loud noises will wake them. Parents have also found the silence does not help. There are a number of products on the market that emit ambient or white noise to help your baby sleep.

5. Location - Babies should go to sleep in the same place they will wake up. If a baby wakes in a different place then they went to sleep they will often cry out and not be able to put themselves back to sleep.

Baby Sleep Safety

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

SIDS is the primary cause of death for infants one month - one year of age. In the United States, about 2,500 babies die each year.

Parents and nannies play a vital role in securing the babies sleep area. The safest way to help your baby sleep is to place them on their back in the crib and remove all toys, blankets,and pillows. Placing a baby properly in an empty crib and using a pacifier play a role in helping reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.


Some parents have had success with swaddling, but this requires that the baby is wrapped tightly. If you’re not familiar with the proper way to perform swaddling, consult a newborn care specialist or doula who knows how the procedure is done.


Believe it or not, breastfeeding also plays an important role in preventing SIDS. How? Experts believe the nutrients play a role in strengthening the child, lowering the risk of an accident during sleep.


Sleep is a vital element of a newborn’s overall health and development. Parents should consult their pediatrician or newborn care specialist and make sure they’re implementing the best practices and procedures to ensure sound rest and sleep.

For more articles like this one check out the Pregnancy & Babies section of your blog.

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