How Much Sleep Does A Baby Need?

 In Fatherhood, Featured, Motherhood, Resources

Every parent worries about whether their baby is sleeping enough for their age.  We hear enough stories from friends with babies to see that there is variation between one baby’s sleep to the next. Despite these variations there is an average amount you should expect your baby to sleep in order to be well-rested. Most well-rested babies do not deviate too wildly from this. How much sleep your baby gets and whether they get enough sleep to feel rested will depend on how well you keep to their routines and follow their internal clocks.

For the first few months of your baby’s life their sleep patterns are very irregular.  They will sleep a total of approximately 17 hours a day. To begin with a baby’s longest period of sleep can happen any time of the day or night. Babies less than 6 weeks of age may fall asleep quite late at night and each period of sleep might not be for very long. After 6 weeks of age a baby will start to shift to more sleep at night and their bedtime will shift earlier, but their naps will still be irregular throughout the day. A baby this age may only last being awake for 1 hour and at most 2 hours through out the day.

At around 3 or 4 months of age a baby’s daytime sleep starts becoming more regular. Starting around 3 months of age you might start to notice a rough pattern of when your baby sleeps best. The longest period of sleep will be about 4 to 6 hours at night. By 4 months of age a baby will generally have two long naps with a shorter catnap in the late afternoon. The total amount of sleep you can expect is around 10 hours of sleep at night and around 4 to 5 hours sleep for naps.

The two longer naps with a late afternoon catnap remain until sometime before 9 months of age. This can vary depending on the child, but once they are consistently having a good solid 1.5 to 2 hours of sleep in both the morning and midday naps they will likely drop that catnap. By 9 months of age most babies will be able to sleep through the night without waking for a feed, if they haven’t been already. Between 6 and 9 months of age babies should be sleeping a total of 14 to 15 hours in a day, with 10 to 11 of those hours happening at night and the rest spread between the naps.

Babies keep those two naps a day until sometime after their first birthday. At 12 months of age your baby will be sleeping around 10 to 12 hours at night and 2 to 3 hours during the day. There is a vast range of time when a baby may drop down from two naps to one but it is typically done before they hit 18 months of age. Their morning nap will disappear, leaving only the midday nap.

It is important to keep in mind that there is some variation in sleep needs between one baby to the next, though in general the difference isn’t incredibly significant. It is important to provide babies the opportunity to get the sleep they need to keep them well-rested.  If you are worried about whether your baby is getting the right amount of sleep you might want to keep a log of their sleep for a few days. If you baby’s sleep is far outside the averages provided then you might need to look at where adjustments need to be made to your baby’s schedule. If they are falling roughly around the averages provided here, then you are probably on the right track.

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