STTN: Demystifying the Concept of Sleeping Through the Night

Jul 25, 2023

If you're a parent of a child under the age of 2, you've probably heard the term "sleeping through the night" countless times. It's a phrase that evokes a mix of emotions, ranging from hope and excitement to sheer exhaustion. Today, we're here to demystify this elusive concept and shed light on what it truly means to achieve peaceful nights for both you and your little one.


Decoding STTN: What Does It Really Mean?

STTN stands for sleeping through the night, and it refers to the ability of a child to go through sleep cycle transitions without needing external props to fall back asleep. As adults, we also experience these transitions every 90 minutes or so during the night, but we can effortlessly put ourselves back to sleep. For a child, STTN indicates that they have developed the ability to self-soothe and return to sleep independently, without relying on things like bottles, breastfeeding, or rocking.

Do Babies Sleep All Night?

Newborns may sleep a lot, but their sleep patterns are often erratic during the first three months of life, known as the "4th Trimester." Frequent wake-ups for feeding are entirely normal during this period. For babies under four months, focus on meeting their needs with love and care, providing them with comfort and nourishment as required. Sleep training can be considered after the four-month mark.

How Many Hours Should a Baby Sleep for STTN? The amount of sleep required for STTN varies based on the child's age.Here is a useful chart by  The National Sleep Foundation provides helpful guidelines for baby sleep duration. 

When do babies sleep through the night?

Be aware that, before your baby can sleep through the night, there are certain milestones – physical and cognitive – that he or she must pass:  

  • Decreased startle reflex. This reflex causes your baby’s limbs to jerk in response to triggers like loud noises and sudden movement. This reflex may wake your baby from sleep but usually goes away by 4 months. 
  • Increased feeding and weight gain
  • Fewer number of feedings during the night
  • Increased ability to self-soothe so she can put herself back to sleep if she wakes during the night


While some babies will begin to sleep for longer stretches between 4 months and 6 months of age, sleeping through the night for more than an 8-hour stretch typically occurs after 6 months. 

The elimination of nighttime feedings is another factor that helps babies to begin sleeping through the night. Many babies are ready for this after 6 months of age. The case may be different for breastfed babies since they metabolize breast milk relatively quickly and require more frequent feedings.

After getting past these milestones, if your child doesn’t have an association, such as the need for a prop to help them fall asleep, AND their sleep schedule is synchronized with their biological rhythms (which naturally elevates the sleep hormone melatonin), he or she  can be sleeping beautifully by 4-5 months. For some, however, this does include a night feeding or dream feed. There are many factors that need to be in place to have a good sleep foundation set, and that is where working with a Certified Sleep Consultant comes in!


What are some tips for how to get my baby to sleep through the night?

For newborns under 4 months, swaddling is wonderful because it controls the Moro reflex (startling reflex). Don’t try to place them on any specific regimented schedule because children under 4 months old are biologically immature. 

Once they are 4 months, you can begin with one of the simplest factors: Making sure the sleep environment is healthy and conducive to sleep. This can include a white noise machine(link to music/white noise article)  to maximize sleep by drowning out any outside noise, and helping them transition more easily when the child is going from one sleep cycle to the next. Here are my top faves. 

Also, black-out curtains are a must because our internal sleep clock works off of light and dark. Light is your enemy when you are trying to sleep. Light suppresses your sleep hormone; darkness is your savior as it elevates melatonin – a hormone that helps control your daily sleep-wake cycles. In addition, keeping track of their sleep patterns can also be beneficial. Just like you keep track of wet diapers and how much they eat, sleeping patterns should be no different.

Does breastfeeding or bottle-feeding during the night affect sleeping through the night?

  • Night feedings only affect children past 9 months (unless there is a medical need for the feeds). Beyond 9 months, feeding at night can create fragmented sleep which is the definition of sleep deprivation. Some pediatricians recommend eliminating night feedings earlier on, such as 4 months. 

If you are planning to stop night feeds, first get the green light from your pediatrician. Then, create a plan for yourself on how you will stop the night feeds and how will you comfort your little one to go to sleep. If you need help stop night feeds,

What are some common myths around STTN?

  • A huge one is that if you give them cereal in their bottle, they will sleep better. This is false. In most cases, I have found in my practice this does the opposite. It has the digestive system working harder, resulting in more diaper changes, more wakeups and more gas. This study from 2010 showed that starting solids before 4 months may actually disrupt sleep. This study revealed that babies who began eating cereal before 4 months of age slept half an hour less each day than infants who weren’t eating cereal. Another myth is that you should keep your baby awake a lot during the day; then they will sleep through the night. This is SO false! Sleep begets sleep. It needs to be balanced. If the quantity (how many hours the baby needs to sleep) + the quality of sleep isn’t up to par, you will have MORE night wakings. Simply because the body then has to kick into adrenaline. That adrenaline lingers and then shows up at night resulting in many unneeded night wakings. 

    For personalized sleep solutions and support, reach out to Carolina and the Sleep Trifecta team team to schedule a private appointment by  writing to [email protected]. Remember, achieving STTN is a process, and patience, along with tailored strategies, will ultimately lead to better rest for both you and your baby.

To delve deeper into the world of parenting and sleep success, don't forget to subscribe to the ‘Tired by Twilight Podcast’ , where valuable insights and heartwarming stories await you. 

With love and dedication, you can create a nurturing sleep environment, helping your child thrive as they embark on their exciting journey through childhood.

Sweet dreams and peaceful nights!

Carolina and Sleep Trifecta Team