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What is your definition of "sleep through the night"?

[deleted account] ( 15 moms have responded )

I thought I knew the definition and have always considered my 8mo son a poor sleeper. But I notice some people on boards saying stuff like "he's always been good about STTN, he eats and goes back to sleep right away, now he wakes for an hour at 3am."

Well, except for a few times during major sleep regressions, my son has always gone right back to sleep after nursing, but he nurses anywhere from 2-5 times a night! I barely wake up these days since we co-sleep -- now that he's older, he just rolls over and finds my breast without disturbing me much -- and I can't even remember in the morning how many times it was. But I would never say he STTN. My definition is, no intervention from parents.

I've seen other people define it as 5-6 hours. My son used to do that. Big whoop. He slept from 7pm to 12-1am, but it didn't help me in the least because I went to bed around 10pm and he woke up after midnight every 2 hours or less. (Co-sleeping didn't help that much when he was younger, because he still needed a diaper change, and I had to position myself for nursing.)

Now when I hear people brag that their babies have slept through the night since 4 weeks old, I wonder what the heck they're talking about exactly. I also wonder if I'm giving my baby a bad rap. I tell everyone he's a sweetheart but a terrible sleeper!


Jenni - posted on 05/17/2011




It depends on the age what is considered STTN.

I believe it is defined by no parent intervention, like feeding, because it is used to describe how long they can go at night without a feed.

So this is what I always thought was considered STTN:

1-3 months: 5-6 hours

3-6 months: 6-8 hours

6-12 months: 8-12 hours

Not sure if that's correct but just what I always believed was considered STTN based on age.

Of course all babies are vastly different in how long they can go between feeds and how long they need to sleep.

My son still needed a night time feed at 11 pm at 9 months. My daughter started sleeping 12 hours at 3 months (but I woke her for a feed until 6 months).

Alison - posted on 05/19/2011




For me, the night is the night.

If your son is 8 months old, I would recommend you stop feeding him at night (via the method of your choice), so you can get back to peaceful and restful sleep.

Jennifer - posted on 05/18/2011




The ped says sleeping 6 hours at a stretch is "sleeping through". I disagree. Sleeping through the night is when I say goodnight and I don't see you again until morning! :()

Ez - posted on 05/18/2011




It means different things to different families. If a baby goes to bed at 11 and sleeps til morning, I would consider that STTN. But going down at 7pm and sleeping til 2? Not so much.

Generally speaking, I think if you can get a 6hr stretch out of a newborn, that's as close to STTN as you can expect (or want). My daughter was a bit of an enigma, and was sleeping 12hrs by 3mths (through nothing I did - that was just her natural sleeping habit). For an older baby or toddler, I think 10hrs (eg. 8pm-6am) would be STTN.

I don't believe in sleep-training, so I agree with Lisa that we put far too much pressure on babies to sleep longer than they are physically and emotionally ready for. Sleep patterns change week to week, or month to month, anyway. My 3mth old who sleep like a champion, turned into a teething beast who woke 10 times a night for 6 weeks before her first tooth popped through. She also went through a growth spurt at around 10mths where she was waking up to be fed. So even my good sleeper has had her unsettled periods. STTN is not like other milestones where it's set for life once they conquer it.

[deleted account]

I agree with Lisa and I also think that there is a wide range of "normal". Some babies seem to sleep all night from day one while others wake frequently for months or even years. Doesn't mean either way is right or wrong.


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[deleted account]

For us STTN meant that once we put our son down he didn't need us for comfort back to sleep or feeding etc until morning (even if he did wake up) - which could be anything from 6am onwards. I wouldn't class them waking at 2am as STTN but I also wouldn't worry about my baby waking in the night if he needed to, although we did use sleep training to help our son go to sleep on his own, we didn't use it to get him to STTN he just did it when he was ready. I am hoping this baby will be half as good as Ethan at sleeping we really have been spoiled with him :-)

Amanda - posted on 05/18/2011




STTN is when a baby can sleep on it's own without waking or intervention.
I was extremly lucky that both my kids were exceptional sleepers. They only ever woke once a night from day one and by 5 weeks (my son) and 6 weeks (my daughter) were sleeping 11-13hrs a night.
They still generally sleep 11 hrs a night (from 7pm - 6am sometimes 6.30am)

Christina - posted on 05/17/2011




My daughter is just like Lacye's daughter, she has been sleeping through the night since she was 4 months old. She sleeps from 8 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next morning, but she's not much of a eater so she can do that.

Lacye - posted on 05/17/2011




My daughter started sleeping through the night at 2 months old. Now when I say sleep through the night, I mean from about 8 at night until 7 the next morning. I had a very good baby. I don't think I want another one because I was severely spoiled with this one. LOL

[deleted account]

When I was able to get a good night's sleep, I considered my daughter to be sleeping through the night. I'm sure there is a more scientific definition somewhere though.

April - posted on 05/17/2011




I consider it 6 straight hours without help from a paci or nursing and as Teresa clarified, I'd start counting from teh child's bedtime, not my own.
My son is 2 and his sleep pattern is similar to the OP's son's sleep pattern. He has only STTN a handful of times, but a couple months ago he did it for 2 weeks straight and then didn't do it again.

Side note: In my son's case, i consider bedsharing to be parental help. He almost always sleeps 6 straight hours if he is in bed with me. When he is in his crib, STTN is very very rare*

[deleted account]

Sleeping through the night to me is sleeping through THEIR night. For the girls... it was 12 hours at 6 months for a month. Then not again til 12ish hours at 14 months. For my son... it's 10-11 hours and he wasn't doing it more than a handful of random times til after he was 2.

I know some people consider sleeping through the night at 5-6 hours, but I don't go w/ that concept. If it's not sleeping through the CHILD'S night.... it's not sleeping through. ;)

Jay - posted on 05/17/2011




My boy sleeps a six hour stretch.
We go to bed together at eleven and he wakes up 6am for a feed. (we co-sleep and breastfeed, so sometimes i think he eats in his sleep because he doesn't open his eyes!) he just has a quick snack.
then he wakes up again at 9 or 10am and we get up.
I don't consider this sleeping through the night. i say he wakes up once when people ask how he sleeps.
he has been doing this since 5 weeks and in the same pattern now at almost 12 weeks and im fine with it. xxxx

Minnie - posted on 05/17/2011




The official definition I have heard is five to six hours, no parental help to get back to sleep (because infants and toddlers wake typically every 50 minutes at the end of their sleep cycles).

And honestly, I think that is what is most reasonable. We're simply not made to sleep 12 hours straight through. Babies and young children most certainly aren't. It's just that with industrialized society, having a long stretch of sleep at night has become expected.

And I think that many people expect this 'sleep through the night' to happen a lot sooner than is appropriate.

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