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How to Help Infants Sleep Through the Night

by Michele Norfleet, studioD

Parents of newborns often struggle with sleep deprivation. It goes with the territory since newborns need to feed frequently during the first two months of life, even through the night. By 3 to 6 months of age, however, your baby should able to go for longer periods between feedings and may sleep up to 16 hours a day. Unfortunately, she may only sleep for a few hours at a stretch. Establishing sleep routines early will help you and your baby get the sleep you need.

Bedtime Routine

Play with your baby during the day to encourage better sleep at night.

Keep the bedtime atmosphere calm and peaceful. Dim the lights. Use a nightlight, if needed.

Establish a calm, consistent bedtime routine. After bathing, sing or read quietly to her in her bedroom.

Put her in her crib when she is drowsy but still awake to encourage her to fall asleep on her own.

Pat her gently and speak reassuringly if she fusses or cries when you put in her crib. Leave the room.

Wait a few minutes before going to check on her if she stirs or fusses in the night to allow her the time to soothe herself back to sleep. Go and check on her if she continues to cry. Keep the lights dim and speak softly to teach her that it is still bedtime, not playtime.

Gradual Withdrawal

Put her in the crib while she is drowsy but still awake.

Sit in a chair near the crib, giving her occasional pats or touches of reassurance. Pick her up to reassure her if she cries uncontrollably. Put her back in the crib to go to sleep on her own.

Stay by the crib until she falls asleep.

Move the chair away from the crib gradually every three nights until you are out of her sight but still in the room. After two to three weeks, put her down and leave the room.

Ferber Method

Put your infant in his crib while he is awake following the established bedtime routine. Leave the room.

Go back into the room to check on him after one to five minutes if he cries. Reassure him but do not pick him up. Stay for two to three minutes and leave again.

Increase the length of time before going in to check on him if crying continues. First wait for three minutes, then five minutes, then 10 minutes each time after that. Each succeeding night continue to increase the time before you return to check on him until you are waiting up to 12 minutes before returning.


  • Be consistent with any method you choose.
  • Plan to spend at least three weeks when changing your baby's sleep routine.


  • The Ferber Method is recommended for infants who are at least 5 or 6 months of age.

About the Author

Michele Norfleet is a freelance writer who writes on travel, home and garden and education topics. She has coauthored a handbook for teachers on school-wide discipline and has contributed tips for special-needs students in the basal curriculum for RCL Benziger. Norfleet holds a master's degree from Southern Illinois University and has experience as a special-needs teacher and speech pathologist.

Photo Credits

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