|Image courtesy of Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
First, let's define sleeping through the night.
The "medical" definition of sleeping through the night is 5 hours. Now I know some of you would be happy with a measly 5 hours, but most of you want to know when your baby will sleep the entire night right? Say 10-12hrs?
After doing so much research I have narrowed the numbers down, and only considered answers from highly trusted sleep experts and organizations. Such as, pediatric sleep expert Jodi Mindell, The National Sleep Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics, to name a few. I am a firm believer in gathering the most trusted and up to date information. Anyone can say anything they want on the web. Making sure the information is from a reliable source is very important, so that you know what information to trust. With that being said, most of these experts say that a baby is capable of sleeping an 8-12 hour stretch between the ages of 3-6 months.
Some babies take a bit longer than 6 months, but usually only wake and need one feeding. If for example your 7 month old baby is sleeping for a 10 hour stretch, then wakes for a feeding and goes right back to sleep, then this may be normal for her age. Chances are, that is the longest she can make it without needing a feed. As she gets older the stretch of sleep will extend, until she no longer needs it. To make sure that this doesn't become a habitual waking, always remember to put your baby down awake after a feeding. It is very easy for a baby to start waking at a certain hour to be nursed back to sleep as a habit. Especially during the morning hours, when sleep is the lightest. So if your baby truly needs a feeding, always make sure she is put down awake when she's done . For more information on how to put your baby down awake, please refer to my article "How to Teach Your Baby to Self Soothe"
Another point worth mentioning is that just because most babies are capable of sleeping through the night at this age, doesn't mean they do sleep through the night. Many babies have bad sleep habits. They rely on sleep props or associations to fall asleep. They need mommy to do the work for them, and have other issues preventing them from sleeping through the night. If these issues are not addressed, then your baby may continue waking several times a night. Parents like to think that their baby's sleep troubles are just a phase and their baby will eventually outgrow this phase. A recent study shows that sleep troubles in infancy continue until 3 years of age. A similar study shows up to 5 years. Chances are your baby is not going to outgrow her sleep troubles anytime soon.
So somewhere between the age of 3-6 months, a baby is capable of sleeping through the night. Even if your baby is a little bit older and still waking for that one feeding, that is perfectly normal. But waking several times a night at that age definitely needs to be investigated further. Because by waiting and hoping that things will improve on their own, you will see that things usually only get worse.
If you need more help getting your baby to sleep through the night, I have many resources on my site. Please look through my articles, and feel free to contact me. A great start would be this article "How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night: My Secrets Revealed".