How to get a baby to sleep - and the 7 expert tips to try tonight

How to get a baby to sleep can be trial and error, take a look at our expert tips, tricks, and baby sleep training methods

How to get a baby to sleep illustrated by babies asleep
(Image credit: Getty images)

How to get a baby to sleep is all about the grownups. A baby's sleep cycle is less than an hour, so understanding how to get a baby to sleep is really about adjusting expectations of what newborn sleep looks like, there are no quick fixes. 

Babies don't come with an easy set-up manual, but luckily we have the information here to help you find your way. All babies are different; what works for one baby might not work for another. From shopping for the best baby monitor to searching for the best podcasts to listen to and sleep training books to read, the best swaddles to use. You've likely tried all kinds of tricks and tips to get your baby to drop off. And, all of this is okay. Sleep isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, after all. Founder of the sleep consulting team Calm and Bright Sleep Support and mother of four, Eve Spires tells us "The most important thing to remember is your baby, your choice." 

With that in mind, we've found the research and expert intel to empower you in making your own decisions in helping your baby fall asleep.

How to get a baby to sleep: by ages

From 0-3 months old

  • Swaddle newborns
  • Keep lighting low when feeding or changing
  • Naps and feeds on demand

A study by Liverpool John Moores University showed that there is no newborn sleep schedule as they don’t know the difference between night and day, and will often easily sleep for long periods during the day, with little or no support needed. While this is great when you're meeting a friend for coffee, the flip side is that it feels like they're awake for hours at night. New babies often wake because they need a feed, as they only have little tummies.

However, if this isn't happening for you, and instead you're struggling to get them to sleep on their first couple of nights, then they could be experiencing a completely normal newborn baby condition called Second Night Syndrome. It affects some babies more than others and is characterised by complete sleep for the first 24 hours of life, and then crying and excessive feeding, amongst other symptoms, from then on. When your new baby does wake for a feed, keep everything quiet, low and with minimal movement. Try to think about how you act when you're woken in the night. When you need the loo you try to keep your eyes as closed as possible and avoid turning the light on. This is exactly what you need for your baby. Feed them and change them as quietly and gently as possible to try to keep them in that slightly sleepy state.

Mum of two Louise tells us: "With our firstborn the Lumie sunrise alarm clock was a godsend! It kept the room dim but light enough to get things done. For simple feeds and burping we set it to a dim light 3 setting, while for code brown situations it was a brighter light 8! But still less intense than turning the light on."

In addition, swaddling may help with getting newborn babies to sleep. Chireal Shallow, author of The Gentle Sleep Solution (Amazon, £12.65)says: “To help your baby feel secure, recreate the conditions of the womb. Swaddle them, just like they were snug inside you, and make sure their Moses basket is cosy and safe. If they’re warm and sleepy in your arms, being moved to a cool mattress can be a shock.

“To settle them, put a hand on their chest, lean down and put your cheek next to them, then make a ‘shh, shh’ sound. When they stop crying, stop all of these. They’ll learn you’re there for them when they’re upset, but that they can go to sleep on their own when they’re calm.”

In the early weeks, napping and feeding often happen on demand and no two days are the same. Eve Spires, one half of the sleep consulting team Calm and Bright Sleep Support and mother-of-four tells us, “And sleep can range from 20 minutes to 3 hours. Remember that 'contact' or 'motion' napping, such as on your chest in the sling, baby carrier, or in that pram you invested in, is entirely normal and often necessary (hello, school run!).  And, at this age, night sleep can be anything from 45 minutes to 3-hour stints."

Woman smiling at camera
Chireal Shallow

Chireal Shallow is a HCPC registered Psychologist and BABCP accredited Psychotherapist currently working for with over 20 years experience of working within both NHS and private settings. 

Woman smiling at camera
Eve Spires

lm & Bright lovingly enables solid sleep in babies and young children. Plans from pregnancy to 4 years.

From 3-5 months old

  • Keep their room dark
  • Keep lighting low when feeding or changing
  • Track their day naps
  • Understand baby's circadian rhythm
  • Feel empowered to give your baby a minute to soothe themselves if they've woken

By 3 months old some babies can sleep up to 5 hours at night and by 5 months it could be as much as 8 hours. However, it is unusual for babies to sleep all night every night and it is normal for babies to wake frequently in the night, just like we as adults do. You may notice that at some stage your baby will wake at 5am to start their day. It's at this time, and in the first few months of a baby’s life, think about their sleep space. Both for their comfort; to lull into a peaceful sleep and their safety. Whether you are co-sleeping or prefer a next-to-me cot, The Lullaby Trust is a great go-to for guidance on safe sleeping. 

You might want to try keeping your baby's room dark. When it gets dark our brains release a hormone called melatonin, which makes us feel drowsy. Also, try to remember that your baby’s sleep is governed by the sleep cycle (circadian rhythm) which kicks in at 8 weeks and matures by 6 months. A baby's sleep cycle lasts for 45-60 minutes, at the end of which your baby will either start another sleep cycle or wake up.

The reason for waking up could be hunger, or they're uncomfortable or maybe they've just had a wee and need a bit of time to drift back off. If they're not crying give them the chance to fall back to sleep.

“Sleep needs are changing rapidly at this age. It may still feel a bit erratic with timings but longer stints of sleep can begin to form,” reassures Eve. “It’s good to know that naps can be 20 minutes to 3 hours long with night sleep ranging from 2-6 hour stints.”

And, while naps are imperative for a child’s growth, development, overall health, they also support better nighttime sleep, Dr Harvey Karp tells us. "When your little ones skip a nap, they’re primed to be overtired at bedtime, which triggers a fight-or-flight response that unleashes the cortisol, a hormone that keeps babies alert... which is not ideal for sleep."

Dr Harvey's top tip is to keep naps to 2.5 hours tops. "I know it sounds totally counterintuitive, I mean they say, 'Never wake a sleeping baby', but babies only sleep a certain amount in 24 hours and if they sleep too much during the day it really affects their nighttime sleep." This means you should wake your little one if they’re still snoozing at the two-hour mark, Dr Harvey assures us that this will help maintain longer stretches of sleep at night.

Man  smiling at camera
Dr Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp is one of America's most-trusted paediatricians and child development experts. He is also author and founder of Happiest Baby. Dr. Karp practiced pediatrics in Los Angeles for over 25 years. His work empowers parents and supports their understanding of the needs of young children.

From 6-18 months old

  • Keep room dark
  • Keep lighting low when feeding or changing
  • Track their day naps
  • Know your baby's sleep cues
  • Maybe introduce sleep training method

By now your baby's tummy is big enough to enable them to sleep for around 11 hours at night without waking to feed. Your baby's old enough now for you to be able to introduce sleep training should you want to, to get them into better habits. The aim is to teach them how to get back to sleep on their own.

Eve tells us how sleep can even out and become more predictable at this age; “naps can be 45 minutes to 3 hours long and nights can be solid with 11-12 hours unbroken.” 

This age group is hitting lots of developmental milestones, from sitting up and crawling to learning to walk. Though Eve still assures us that there is no need for sleep to be broken beyond this point for any length of time; “You can get 11-12 hours sleep and naps from 1 to 3 hours.”

From 6 months old you can try sleep training if that's something you'd like to do. Sleep training may help you and your baby get into better sleep habits. The aim is to teach babies how to get back to sleep on their own. And to teach you, the adult, that babies can do more than we give them credit for.

Some methods include the E.A.S.Y. Method (A three hour routine that starts with babies being fed until they are full (Eat), play (Activity) and then nap (Sleep) with time for yourself following (You).) and controlled crying (leaving them for gradually increased periods of time before going in to reassure them). In addition, it helps to know your baby's sleep cues. 

How much can a baby sleep?

Up to 17 hours a day depending on their age. The National Library of Medicine shows that these are usual sleep needs (including naps and nighttime sleep) per 24 hours:

  • Newborns to first few months: 16 to 17 hours
  • Four to One year: 12 to 16 hours
  • One to two years: 11 to 14 hours

While newborns sleep much of the time, it tends to be in very short stints. As your baby grows the total amount of sleep slowly decreases, but the length of nighttime sleep increases.

If you want to check that your baby is hitting the suggested amount of sleep at night, you might try tracking day naps. The saying; 'Sleep begets sleep' is a saying for a reason. The more sleep a baby has the more likely they are to sleep better. An overtired baby struggles to settle and to say in a sleep cycle.

Babies don’t tend to have regular sleep cycles until they are about 6 months old. They typically sleep a total of about eight to nine hours in the daytime and a total of about eight hours at night. But because they have small stomachs, they tend to wake when they're hungry eat. In most cases, a baby will wake up to eat at least every three hours.

How often a baby eats depends on what they are being fed and their age. If you're tempted to wake your baby for a feed, talk to your Health Visitor or GP for guidance.

How to get a baby to sleep illustrated by babies asleep

(Image credit: Getty images)

How babies sleep may look different depending on their age. Some babies won’t start sleeping through the night (meaning six to eight hours) until at least 3 months of age. Others won’t sleep through the night until closer to 1 year. All babies are different. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, if your baby doesn’t sleep through the night at 6 months, or even at 12 months, it’s perfectly normal.

It's also worth remembering that when it comes to how well a baby can sleep, there are 'no shoulds', according to Eve. She tells us. “Rather than thinking what their babies ‘should’ be doing, parents might like to know what their babies are capable of doing so that they can make an informed decision about whether they want/need to enable that best sleep.”

The good news is, studies at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare show that a child's sleep can become noticeably more stable within the first two years of life.

Sleep cues: recognise the signs

Overtired babies are really hard to settle. Spotting the signs before your baby reaches overtired status is half the battle.

Sleep cues may look like;

  • Staring into space
  • Going still
  • Rubbing their eyes
  • Pulling at their ears
  • Frowning
  • Less engaged
  • Less responsive
  • Dropping eyes

Like adults, all babies are different; get to know yours. Recognise their signs of tiredness. Sleep cues can be super subtle and can also vary from baby to baby. Your firstborn may have shown completely different signs to your second or third born.

But you will begin to recognise your own baby’s cues over time. And, it's worth noting that these cues will also change as they grow. Remember, yawning, becoming irritable and starting to cry are late signs and can lead to your baby becoming overtired.

Tips to help get a baby to sleep

1. Get your baby used to day and night

Babies aren't born understanding night and day, according to a research from Liverpool John Moores University. Get your baby familiar with the change, it can help with their circadian rhythm. In addition, other studies from American Academy of Sleep Medicine show that the circadian rhythm develops at 8 weeks old - and works with the body to help drift off to sleep. Eve shares a few other ways to get your baby used to day and night;

  • Exposure to daylight and fresh air
  • Day sleep no longer than 3 hours at a time
  • Naps in daylight
  • Limit exposure to light at night, especially blue light (such as screens or mobile phones)
  • Only change nappy when needed - i.e. baby is crying - overnight (most modern-day nappies can last 12 hours

Eve adds; "Getting a baby to sleep is ultimately about reassurance, consistency, and comfort to help your baby learn."

So, when you're dealing with them during nighttime, keep lights dim and talk to a minimum. Research from the Family Institute at Northwestern University shows that keeping the light low level helps promote positive sleep behaviour. Especially when changing their nappy; it isn't daytime, it isn't a fun time, it's sleep time so model that. Don't 'lose the tired'.

During the day maybe open the curtains, dress them and play games. Similarly at night, try dimming the lights, drawing the curtains, getting them into PJs (even if this means just switching them out from one onesie to another, it’s more about the act for baby).

2. Trust your baby to work it out

Looking after a baby can be so overwhelming and Googling everything seems the most sensible thing to do.

But resist that urge to search 'how to get a baby to sleep' each night. Information overload can throw you off, and leave you trying everything possible rather than trusting your instinct and being consistent. A parent's instinct is to be listened to, according to studies. You know your baby.

Also, give your baby a chance to show you what they're capable of. If baby is awake and just happy in their cot, leave them to it. They may find their own way to drop off to sleep.

When a baby cries it's human instinct to go to it straight away. But, if you rush immediately you take away baby's chance to sort it themselves - it might just be they had a wee and it woke them, give them time and they may drift straight back off.

Rushing in could create a cycle where they need you to fall back to sleep. As long as you know they're not hungry or ill, you can pause and allow a minute before going into them. If you do need to go in, follow your instincts and try to be as quiet, calm, and unobtrusive as possible. For instance, maybe think about keeping lights low/off, no talking etc.

Try to empower your baby. They are capable of more than we think. We just need to enable them, set strong sleep routines. A study by the Sleep Research Society claims that routines are a great way to help teach your baby to sleep. It gives them something they know to expect. Also, try to keep consistent and calm. 

How to get a baby to sleep illustrated by babies asleep

(Image credit: Getty images)

With all this in mind, we got the low down on baby sleep from Eve; “Trust your baby to work it out. When a baby is given the opportunity to fall peacefully asleep by themselves, they are able to sleep longer and wake refreshed.”

“At the beginning, it’s really normal for babies to need help with sleep. Beyond 6 months, however, the way a baby gets to sleep (feeding, rocking, patting, co-sleeping) can become ingrained. This means that both parent and baby believe that there is no other way to get to sleep."

For instance, if you feed your baby to sleep - and there's nothing wrong with - but you then decide to stop, it can be difficult. As your baby now associates a feed with sleep, and you think your baby can't sleep without a feed, it becomes a never-ending circle."

Author of The Sleep Whisperer, Tracy Hogg calls this 'accidental parenting'. And it's usually the culprit for sleep issues with a baby. We have spoken to many sleep consultants and they all say the same; ‘we work with the parents not the baby’.

And Eve agrees; “The very first port of call for any sleep problems night or day is to consider whether you might like to enable self-settle in your baby. Once that is enabled, everything falls into place.”

The mum-of-four goes on to reassure all parents reading this; “If sleep is working for you and your baby, and you’re feeling rested and healthy, - no matter ‘the method’ then don’t change a thing. Don’t let anyone tell you you should or shouldn’t sleep teach. Your baby, your choice.”

3. Swaddling might help settle your newborn

A 2017 review of studies shows that swaddling helps babies sleep. Swaddling is when you wrap a baby in a blanket to make them feel secure, like when they were in the womb. Here’s how to swaddle a newborn:

1. Fold one corner down on a thin cotton cot sheet. Lie your baby on their back, in the middle of the sheet and with their head resting above the fold 2. Take the left corner and wrap it over your baby’s body then tuck it under their right arm 3. Fold the tail upwards then wrap the right corner over their body and around their back, making sure their head is uncovered and your baby has enough space to wriggle their hips and knees 4. Avoid using extra or thick blankets to stop your baby overheating 5. It's not safe to swaddle babies over 1 month old.

4. Check baby's room temperature

To enable your baby's best sleep, make sure they aren't too cold or hot. Invest in a room thermometer to check that their room is between 16°C and 20°C. 

Studies from The Lullaby Trust recommend that babies sleep in a baby sleeping bag.  Here are the guidelines Gro Company supply on what the baby should wear with which tog, in which room temperature.

  • Under 16°C: Put them in a 2.5 tog sleeping bag and long-sleeved vest, plus long-sleeved sleepsuit
  • 16°C-19°C: Put them in a 2-2.5 tog sleeping bag and long-sleeved sleepsuit or long-sleeved vest
  • 20°C-24°C: Put them in a 1-1.5 tog sleeping bag and long-sleeved vest or short-sleeved vest
  • 25°C plus: Put them in a 0.5 tog sleeping bag and vest or vest alone

Feeling their tummy is the best way to tell how hot or cold your baby is and don't worry if their feet and hands are cold as it doesn't necessarily mean they feel cold.

infographic on best room temperature for babies

Credit: Canva

5. Check baby isn't hungry

Like adults, when babies are in a light sleep a hunger pang can wake them. Making sure your baby goes to bed with a full tummy may help with the longer stints of shut-eye. Though, for full transparency, a study by Swansea University shows that even a full tummy won't stop night waking altogether. It just means you know baby isn't waking for food.

Breastfeeding? It's suggested that newborns are are fed every hour or two in the first couple of weeks. If bottle-feeding, it's suggested that it's every two to three hours. Other studies from 2012 claim that breastfed babies don't tend to wake as often, though reasons for this could be the additional skin on skin comfort during breastfeeding.

When your baby weighs around 10lbs they might sleep for longer and go for four to five hours between feeds. From 14lbs they could even go five to six hours without needing milk. Getting your baby to sleep through the night really depends on your baby’s weight and how quickly they digest their milk, so listen to your baby and don’t be in a hurry to get them sleeping through the night and worry about how to get a baby to sleep.

It’s good to know that your little one may also feed more often and for longer during a growth spurt, however, if their constant waking up for milk doesn’t seem normal, it might be worth checking your milk supply with your health visitor.

Try feeding your baby before you read them a bedtime story. When they start showing their usual signs of tiredness e.g touching their ears and yawning, put them down in their cot awake.

Some parents swear by a dream feed to keep their little ones asleep a bit longer; anticipating the problem before they wake up.

6. Winding could help longer sleep

Trapped air in baby's diaphragm can be so uncomfortable and even painful and can prevent baby from settling. Mum-of-one Jolene says, “My son Huxley normally sleeps for an extra hour if he’s been properly winded, but it took me seven weeks to figure that out. I sit him up on my lap with his spine against my chest. I then put my arm under his arms and sit up as straight as I can. After a few seconds, it usually brings up a stubborn burp.”

Some mums also swear by Infacol, which can be used from birth and is available from pharmacies. It helps your baby burp easily after a feed.

Mummy blogger Sophie Cachia took Instagram to share a video of her burping technique in a bid to help other mums that are struggling. In the video, she can be seen sitting her baby on her lap as she begins to move her little ones limbs to open up her airway.

Sophie describes what she can be seen doing in a helpful caption alongside the video, ‘Simply [so it’s definitely not always SIMPLE, sometimes they arch their back and you need to use some gentle-but-firm mummy/daddy love to hold them in place) sit them on your lap and bring their knees bent in like so, and lift their arms up to about 90 degree angle.’

The Australian mum continues to reveal that she used this technique successfully on both of her children but warned that it’s essential that your baby’s body is relaxed, so if they're already crying and stressed it's not the best time to try this.

7. Set a consistent sleep routine

You might want to try introducing a sleep routine. If you need one, around 6 to 8 weeks old is a good age to start, though it's never too late.

A baby lives for the predictable, they like knowing what's coming next. Set a routine and trust them to show you their capabilities, they might surprise you. Consider making it very short at first — maybe just a cuddly feed and a brief book.

Dr Harvey Karp tells us; "Having a soothing and predictable bedtime routine calms babies, makes them feel safe, and it eases them into a good night’s sleep. As your baby gets better and better at remembering patterns, their bedtime routine becomes almost Pavlovian. An infant’s bedtime routine is pretty simple since they all crave the same thing: A cozy atmosphere that reminds them of the womb, dim the lights, and turn on rough and rumbly white noise. Next, swaddle your baby and offer them a breast or bottle to suck on, and then rock your baby into the sleepy zone."

A consistent bedtime routine reinforces babies’ natural circadian rhythms, helping teach them the difference between day and night. Later on, a bedtime routine helps little ones to slow down and prepare mentally for bedtime. Plus, a regular bedtime ritual creates a sense of comfort that can be helpful during tricky sleep periods for you and your baby.

Sleep routine: how you might create one

Sleep routines signal that it's time to sleep, with studies showing that babies like knowing what to expect. In addition, as this study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows, babies don't sleep through the night. So helping them to know what to do when they wake in the night is in the best interests of everyone in the house who likes to sleep.

You can start a routine as soon as the health visitor makes their first visit when your baby is about 6 – 8 weeks old. It might be useful to pick a time that you feel you could stick to, then do the same thing every night before putting your little one in their cot so they understand it’s time to sleep.

Mum-of-one, Louise M tells us: "We went with the Four B routine, but tweaked it a little to the Three B. We noticed that baths woke my daughter up rather than calmed her down. So we just went with bottle, book and bed. Keeping baths to a morning ritual when she was younger. And that - along with singing Mary Poppins 'go to sleep' - was what became our sleep routine."

Ideas for a successful bedtime routine

  • Create a calm room: Try muted coloured mobiles for babies, a favourite fluffy toy that only comes out at night, or soothing music, and blackout blinds might also help. You might want to avoid bright colours or mobiles with flashing lights.
  • Sleep associations: Children and babies sleep better if they have recognisable cues to remind them that it’s time to go to sleep. A lot of parents like the 4 B routine. Bath, bottle, book, bed. Remember, if your baby falls asleep in your arms, then when they wake in the night, they may need you and your arms to return to sleep.
  • No fuss: If your little one is sick in the night, or wees the bed, you might want to deal with the problem with minimal fuss. Focus all attention on the importance of getting back to sleep -so lights as dim as you can, no talking, and leaving any unnecessary clean-ups to later etc.
  • Calm and quiet: By all means play with your little ones, but when bedtime approaches, try to wind it down. Any over-stimulation before bed just makes it harder for them to get to sleep. So think, dimmer lights, no noisy toys etc.
  • Keep track: When you change your child’s bedtime routine, you might like to try and keep a diary. This could even be one-liners texted to your partner. You might find it helpful to track your progress. As it can sometimes be hard to believe things are changing. Especially if you've been into your baby 20 times, but if your notes tell you that two nights ago you were having to do it 25 times, it can spur you on.
  • Find support: Breaking habitual behaviour is hard. If your baby has learned to fall asleep on your breast and now you feel the time has come to break this pattern, it will take strength for you to see it through. Likewise, if he’s always fallen asleep with dad on the living room sofa, changing this will be tough. Don’t underestimate how hard it will be, and make sure you talk about it to your partner, family or friends – you’ll need support too.
  • Stick to it: As a parent, you set the boundaries. Consistency is key. Once you’ve decided on a course of action, try to be strong and be clear. Setting and holding boundaries is helpful.

Why do babies fight sleep?

Eve, Founder of Calm and Bright sleep support tells us; “There can be many reasons why a baby might refuse or fight sleep but the most common is because they are overtired. Just like adults if a baby doesn’t get the required sleep, they become delirious and too tired to fall asleep. Babies and young children have a specific ‘sleep window’ where they naturally become drowsy and if they miss this window or a nap interferes with their routine, they will struggle to fall asleep.”

Other reasons could be;

  • Not tired enough: “On the flip side, a baby may fight sleep if they have had sufficient naps and simply aren’t tired. Getting this balance right can be hard for parents as it requires a strict routine and a lot of persistence," says Jumaimah. Though this could be an isolated event, caused by something like today’s nap running longer than usual, or it could be a sign that they’re growing and developing, and their sleep needs are changing.
  • Overstimulated: It's already well-known for children and adults to avoid screens for an hour before bed in order to fall asleep faster and to ensure a better quality of sleep. The same is true for your little one, but it goes beyond screens. Too many new people, a new place, noisy toys, loud music, exciting play, or simply a day of new and exciting things happening can leave them feeling overwhelmed and unable to calm down for sleep.
  • Separation anxiety: Jumaimah explains that; “As a baby approaches the eight-month mark, they often adopt separation anxiety which can also lead to them fighting sleep. The need for parental contact usually peaks around 18 months.” Has your little one been like a shadow, always wanting to be held and never more than a few steps away all day? It’s likely that they’re feeling some separation anxiety, which can show up at bedtime as well. Often seen anywhere from 8 to 18 months, your baby may fight sleep because they don’t want you to leave.
  • Circadian rhythm: Infants start to develop their circadian rhythms, the 24-hour cycle that regulates our bodies, at around 6 weeks old. These circadian rhythms mature enough into a true sleep schedule around 3 to 6 months old. And of course, every baby is different, so some may not establish a real sleep schedule until after that.
  • Hunger: Your baby is doing some serious growing in the first few years — babies usually triple their birth weight by their first birthday. All that growth demands plenty of nourishment. You might want to ensure that your baby is getting an appropriate number of feeds a day for an easier bedtime. Hungry tummy will keep them awake - much like it would for adults.
  • Illness: Sometimes discomfort from an illness that's already arrived or one that's on its way can affect your baby’s sleep. Keep an eye out for other symptoms of illnesses like ear infections or colds.

How can you help stop babies fighting sleep?

It all depends on the cause for the baby fighting sleep, but it might be worth moving your baby’s bedtime to adjust their routine slightly. Jumaimah says, “If you suspect they are overtired, put them down earlier, encouraging them to feel relaxed and drowsy with a bedtime story. However, if they do not seem sleepy in the evening, then try extending their wind-down routine.

“Likewise, introduce naps accordingly; for example, if they have been used to taking two naps a day then try dropping this down to one to help tire them out. For separation anxiety, find a balance between providing comfort and reassurance but also giving the baby space. You might try holding back a little during periods of unrest will teach them to self-soothe and in turn, reduce the need for parental attention.”

Naps can help too. Even if they're going through a sleep regression, a well-rested baby will always sleep better than an overtired one. Scientists show that skipping a nap in the hope baby will be tired enough to sleep longer at night, is a myth that won't work. When infants get overtired the stress hormone rises. Regular naps help to keep baby hormone levels consistent. If your baby has fallen asleep in between 'scheduled naps', let it happen. It means they're tired. Though be careful it's not too close to bedtime.

Sarah Patel, Sleep Expert and founder of Teach to Sleep, tells us; "The last nap of the day is the one that can have the biggest effect on nighttime sleep. If, however they show signs that they need that nap, keep it short. A cat nap can really help them bridge the gap to bedtime and manage to keep them to a roughly consistent bedtime. This helps keep the body clock regulated."

In addition, Louenna Hood, Norland nanny and maternity nurse, says that every baby is different. She tells us, “I've looked after babies who sleep through the night from eight weeks old but others not until four or five months old. If your baby follows a regular eating and sleeping pattern through the daytime and finishes full feeds, they are capable of sleeping through from four months.”

Image of woman holding a cup and smiling at camera
Sarah Patel

Mum-of-two, Sarah holds a PGCE in Primary Education, a BSC in Cognitive Science, and an MA in Education as well as being a certified sleep consultant for babies and young children.

Woman smilling at camera
Louenna Hood

Louenna Hood BEM, qualified Norland Nanny and Maternity Nurse, has cared for over 100 children over the past two decades, travelled the world with families, including high profile and royal families. Having been a go-to support for many parents over the years, Louenna wanted to help thousands of parents, not just those who employ her, on their most important journey … parenting.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that their sleeping through the night is the same as yours, so there may still be a midnight or 7am wake-up call. As much as we all wish that babies could just nod off at 7pm, we know that it doesn’t always work that way…

To help you see the light at the end of the tunnel, mum-of-three and founder of Mas and Pas, Sophia Nomicos has given us some of her tried and tested advice.

“How much sleep is lost varies from family to family,” Sophia tells us, “But long-term sleep deprivation can have a real effect on our mental and physical well-being. If your child is old enough to sleep through the night but is still waking up several times before morning, the chances are they are probably exhausted too.

"If you can do something to help them sleep for longer stretches, or through the night, it’s likely to help you and the whole family. Which method you use to sleep train your child is a deeply personal choice for every parent, and it’s important to find a technique that you’re comfortable with and believe in.”

At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with co-sleeping, rocking, patting or feeding your baby to sleep if it works for you and your family. And, if you get to a point where you or your child aren't sleeping, it’s okay to recognise that and make changes. 

Sleep is a rare commodity for parents, which is why we pour so much of our expertise and resource into guiding and helping where we can, we have information on baby sleep training, sleep regression of all ages, and how to turn your iPhone into a white noise machine.

Stephanie Lowe
Family Editor

Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodToKnow covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. Just keeping on top of school emails/fund raisers/non-uniform days/packed lunches is her second full time job.