A person holding their crying baby wondering how to get the baby to sleep through the night.

Tips to encourage uninterrupted sleep in your newborn

Before we get to the good stuff, we want to note that sleep support is only intended for full-term healthy babies. Medical diagnoses or prematurity can greatly impact sleep and change what you can reasonably expect from your little one. Sleep is a highly individual process, and we encourage you to reach out to your pediatric provider or a sleep professional for support as needed. 

As a new parent, chances are that when you do have the chance to catch a quick nap, you are dreaming of uninterrupted sleep. So let’s talk through what you can expect when it comes to newborn sleep. 

How to get Baby to sleep through the night

Unfortunately, while every day puts Baby one day closer to sleeping through the night, it’s not even a goal you and Baby should be working towards yet. Until approximately the end of Baby‘s second week, they are still working to gain back the weight lost after birth. This means that not only should you be feeding them when they wake up hungry, but there may even be times when you’ll have to be the one to wake them to feed. This can be a challenging time, but remember, each night, Baby is one step closer to sleeping through the night, which for babies is considered a 6-8 hour stretch. 

Still, there is no straightforward way to know when Baby will sleep through the night, and it’s likely that it will take longer than you’d like for them to get there, no matter what tips and tricks you have on your side. Try to be patient, and remember that Baby will sleep through the night soon.

First nights at home

When you first bring Baby home, don’t waste precious energy trying to get them adjusted to nights and days. During this early phase, Baby has no concept of the clock. Focus on taking the best care of your little one and yourself. This means doing your best to rest when Baby sleeps during the day.

Baby needs to eat frequently, and will still eat during the night. Hunger and thirst are more important than Baby’s need for sleep, so new parents can expect to be up multiple times each night. You’ll want to keep a consistent food schedule, at least through the end of the first few weeks. It can feel like going against all of your instincts to wake Baby when they are sleeping, but unless your provider advises against it, it’s a good way to make sure your little one is getting enough to eat – and if you’re breastfeeding, it can also help to establish your milk supply.

Some babies are their most wakeful selves in the middle of the night and tend to sleep most of the day. This pattern is also perfectly normal, and while it can be very challenging for parents, it does pass. To get out of this stage sooner, when you’re ready you can start teaching Baby the difference between night and day to help them develop their circadian rhythm. The best way to do this is to make sure that Baby gets some indirect sun exposure during the first part of the day, and then to keep it fairly dim or use red light for night time feedings and changes, though not so dark that it’s a danger to you.

Reasons Baby might wake up during the night

First of all, no matter what, it will take Baby some time to get to the point where they can reasonably be expected to sleep through the night. If Baby’s sleep pattern does not seem to be improving as they grow, don’t despair! Here are a few reasons why they might be a restless sleeper, and some ideas for how to develop a healthy sleep routine.

  • Being Over-tired – it sounds strange, but sometimes it’s the newborns who don’t get enough sleep during the day who have the hardest time staying asleep overnight. As a general rule, the better a newborn sleeps during the day, the better a newborn sleeps at night. Trying to keep Baby awake during the day could backfire and keep them up even longer. 
  • It’s too quiet – most newborns love white noise (remember, it sounded like a vacuum in the womb). Especially now, when Baby is still officially a newborn, they might just be looking for a little background noise. White noise machines are great, but so are vacuums, dryers, particularly loud fans, and pretty much any noise that might have been just a little irritating before – you’ll love it if it helps Baby get a little rest.
  • Baby doesn’t know night from day yet! After all, there wasn’t much of a change in the lighting between night and day in the womb, and daytime was when Baby was rocked to sleep with motion all of the time, anyway. During the day, open the shades and expose Baby to sunlight. Go for walks outside if possible. In the evening, dim the lights and engage in calming activities such as reading.
  • Newborns with colic or reflux can have a harder time sleeping for longer stretches of time than newborns without these conditions, and even normally very solid sleepers can seem to backtrack as they hit growth spurts that leave them needing a little more fuel, so they wake up for added night feedings.
  • You’re making being awake all night too much fun! It makes sense – if you and Baby are both going to be awake anyway, why not bond? But it can set a precedent where Baby doesn’t want to sleep through the night. Instead, feed Baby and encourage going back to sleep. Try not to play or engage in stimulating activities in the middle of the night.
  • Practice some calm and awake crib or bassinet time. Letting your little one get accustomed to their safe sleep space can help them feel comfortable drifting off on their own.

Importance of routine

Most experts agree that establishing a bedtime routine is one of the best things that you can do for your newborn. For example, you may opt to bathe, dress, and feed Baby at the same time every evening. Right before they begin feeding, dim the lights and play the same lullabies or white noise. Your personal routine may vary, but keep in mind that newborns thrive on consistency. Even if you don’t set out to schedule a routine, there’s a good chance Baby will fall into a pattern of sleeping and waking all on their own, and if you’re planning for it, you can help steer Baby towards healthy habits for your entire family.

Getting your baby to sleep through the night is one of the most difficult challenges of early parenting for many. It should only get easier from here! 

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team 


  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Baby sleep: Helping baby sleep through the night.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, November 23 2016. Web.
  • “Newborn-Sleep Patterns.” Stanford Children’s. Stanford Medicine, 2017. Web.
  • “When will my baby sleep through the night?” La Leche League International. La Leche League International, January 10 2016. Web.

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