Do Breastfed Babies Sleep Through Night? Tips For Success!

Author Image By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH •  Updated: 04/24/24 •  Sleep / Sleep Tips

They’re the BIG questions every mother is desperate to know… Do breastfed babies sleep through night? Do they sleep through the night before a bottle-fed baby? Will it happen soon? What does sleeping through the night mean for me?

Fortunately, you’re in the right place. With almost 40 years of childcare experience as a Norland Nanny and mother, in today’s article, I will share all of the information you need to know about getting your breastfed baby to sleep through the night. 

Ready to reclaim your sleep? Let’s dive right in…

Do Breastfed Babies Sleep Through Night Featured

Can Babies Sleep Through The Night?

Yes, babies can sleep through the night!

However, WHEN babies can sleep through the night varies widely. And your definition of sleeping through the night might vary from other parents.

In my book, sleeping through the night means your baby consistently sleeps for at least 6 hours.

This can be from midnight to 6 am… Or even 10 pm to 4 am.

Having a consistent 6-hour stretch of sleep is also far more achievable than expecting your baby to sleep from 7 pm to 7 am.

Therefore, you are less likely to get frustrated with baby’s progress – a feeling no parent wants.

The good news is that by six months, most infants are developmentally capable of sleeping through the night.

However, factors like teething, growth spurts, illness, hunger, and sleep regressions can trigger nighttime wakings, all of which are perfectly normal.

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

When Do Breastfed Babies Sleep Through The Night

Regardless of whether breast or bottle-fed, newborns need to wake every few hours to feed due to their small stomachs and their need for regular nutrition to sustain the first few weeks of intense growth and development.

However, as your baby grows, they will start to sleep for longer stretches and need feeding less frequently. This is when you will notice the different sleep patterns between breastfed and formula-fed infants due to the digestibility of breast milk. 

Breast milk is easier to digest so your baby will wake up more often for feedings during the night.

Most breastfed babies begin to sleep for longer stretches after about 3 months. By this time, your milk supply has established a rhythm, which aids in more consistent sleep patterns. 

It’s common for a breastfed baby to start sleeping through the night, meaning 6 hours, at around 6 months old.

Should You Feed Baby Every Time They Wake At Night

No, I would not recommend feeding your baby every time they wake. This is because night wakings can occur for reasons other than hunger, such as needing comfort, the inability to self-settle, or because they’re ready to start solid foods.

The exception to this rule is for newborns as they require frequent feedings – around 8 to 12 times daily (every 2-3 hours). 

But how do you know if your baby has woken out of hunger or not?

Dream Feed Featured image

How To Get A Breastfed Baby To Sleep Through The Night

Getting a breastfed baby to sleep through the night is all about establishing a consistent bedtime routine, a cozy sleep environment, and beginning the night weaning process. 

But remember, it is important to avoid comparing your breastfed baby with formula-fed babies, as formula takes longer to digest, leading to different sleep patterns.

Baby Bedtime Routine

For baby’s bedtime routine, begin with a soothing bath, followed by a baby massage, a feed, and a quiet story before bed to ensure your baby is ready for sleep. 

Cozy Sleep Environment

You should also aim to give your baby the best chance to sleep through the night by creating a comfortable sleep space conducive to sleep:

Night Weaning

Night weaning can gradually help a breastfed baby to sleep longer stretches too. However, introduce this process only when your baby is developmentally ready (as they near their 1st birthday), as breastfed babies need to ingest more milk than formula-fed babies. 

If you are unsure whether nighttime weaning is right for your baby, I always recommend speaking to a healthcare provider to decide when and how to begin night weaning.

Keep reading to learn more about night weaning to help with nighttime wakings.

Other Notes

For many babies, introducing solid foods at around 6 months of age can help them sleep through the night as the extra calories and fiber help keep their tummies fuller for longer.

You must also be aware that sleep training your baby to get them sleeping through the night is a personal choice and many methods exist.

If you choose to implement sleep training, be informed about gentle approaches that align with breastfeeding. Read this post to learn more: 7 Fail-Proof Sleep Training Methods Every Parent MUST Know

How Can I Gently Night Wean A Breastfed Baby

Night weaning your breastfed baby needs to be a gradual process to help your baby sleep for longer periods at night and to prevent you from experiencing engorgement. 

Before starting, consult with your pediatrician to ensure your baby is ready for gentle night weaning and to put your mind at rest that you are getting the timing right. 

To sleep through the night your baby will need adequate nutrition during the day and have started on solid foods. This usually happens at around 6 months of age. However, you can help your baby to sleep for longer periods leading up to this significant milestone.

So how do you help your little one learn to sleep through the night without a feed?

Breastfeeding 101

How To Stop A Breastfed Baby Waking At Night

I think it is important to point out that it is perfectly normal for babies to wake up at night. Having a baby that never wakes at any point is rarely going to happen.

However, having a little one that sleeps 6 hours most nights and only wakes occasionally is every parent’s dream.

When your baby is very young, giving them a dream feed and having them sleep for 5-6 hours at night will be your first breakthrough. Progressively the length of time they sleep at night will extend until you reach the holy grail of your baby sleeping from bedtime to morning, without waking and without you having to dream feed.

Knowing what to expect sleep-wise at any age can ensure that you adjust your expectations and appreciate the progress that you are making with helping your breastfed baby sleep through the night.


When your baby is first born they will not sleep through the night. They have small stomachs that require feeding frequently (every 2-3 hours) to support the rapid growth and weight gain, that needs to take place in the early weeks.

4 to 5 Months

By 4-5 months many babies will occasionally sleep for longer at night and may even drop a feed. However, it is common for many babies at this age to still wake for 2-3 nighttime feeds for them to sleep 10-12 hours during the night. 

6 Months

6 months is the age at which most babies are ready and able to sleep through the night in the true sense of the word. Your baby will have dropped at least 1 or 2 feeds at night and will be preparing to drop the final one. 

With the introduction of solid foods and the knowledge that night feeding is not required nutritionally, you can go ahead and drop the final night feeds with confidence, by using gentle night weaning and sleep training in conjunction.

9 to 12 Months

By 9 to 12 months of age, I would not expect babies to be waking for a feed at night because of hunger. Instead, they are probably waking out of habit and for comfort due to separation anxiety.

I find that a combination of gentle night weaning and sleep training can help your baby become a consistently good sleeper.

Always be responsive to your baby’s cries, but give them a few minutes to see if they can fall back asleep on their own. 

If crying persists, address their needs promptly. If you are sure they are not hungry, try to re-settle your baby without resorting to a feed first. 

If you do feed baby make the feed short or offer water instead. Gradually baby will learn to self-settle and not rely on a feed for comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions About Babies Waking At Night

In this section, you’ll find answers to common concerns about breastfed babies and their sleep patterns at night.

Q: Is it normal for breastfed babies to wake up at night?

A: Yes, it’s normal for breastfed babies to wake up during the night. Their smaller stomachs digest breast milk quickly, which often means they need to feed several times throughout the night to stay satisfied. As your baby grows, the frequency of nighttime awakenings will decrease.

Q: Will my milk supply decrease if my baby starts sleeping through the night?

A: Your body will adjust to your baby’s feeding needs so when your baby starts sleeping through the night, your milk supply will likely adapt to a new feeding schedule. It’s important to maintain regular daytime feedings to ensure your supply matches your baby’s needs. Consult with a lactation expert if you have concerns.

Q: Why are breastfed babies often reported to wake up more frequently at night?

A: Breastfed babies often wake up more often due to the digestibility of breast milk. Breast milk is easier to digest than formula, leading to a faster return of hunger. 

Q: Are there differences in nighttime waking between breastfed and formula-fed babies?

A: The only difference between the night wakings of a breastfed and formula-fed baby is the frequency. Formula is digested more slowly, which might result in fewer nighttime feedings. On the other hand, breastfed babies may wake up more frequently due to quicker digestion and the comforting aspect of breastfeeding. However, every baby is unique, and sleep patterns can vary widely.

Q: Will my baby sleep through the night if I stop breastfeeding?

A: Stopping breastfeeding doesn’t guarantee your baby will sleep through the night. Sleep patterns are influenced by many factors, including developmental stages and individual temperaments so while some parents might see a change in sleep patterns after weaning, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. 

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Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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