How much sleep do babies need?
Last Updated on September 21, 2021
Most new parents are a bit fixated on the sleep their babies get and how often they wake up. Although your baby will eventually get to a full night of sleep, newborn and infant sleep generally falls within a range. It might be tempting to compare your precious baby with your friend’s one, but you need to understand that each child has a unique sleep schedule.
If you are wondering how much sleep do babies need and whether yours is on the right track, continue reading this guide for more information on the subject. And to your baby, sweet dreams!
How much sleep do babies need?
The amount of sleep your little one needs is based on their age, as well as a few other essential factors. For example, babies spend the majority of their day sleeping and the amount of time they rest depends on their age. So one child may need 17 hours of sleep, whereas another one might only require 12. Here’s a quick look at the different ranges of sleep during the first year:
0 to 3 months
Newborns in this age range should get a total of about 14 to 17 hours of sleep over a 24 hour period. In this stage, babies sleep for short periods (usually one to three hours) and wake up to be fed, burped, changed and soothed. Generally, your little ball of happiness should rack up eight to 12 hours at night, with the rest occurring during naps (typically two to five daytime naps).
4 to 6 months
During this age span with infants, you should expect a sleep schedule of about 12 to 16 hours a day, with some overnight stretches reaching five to six hours in a row. This is when your baby might be able to sleep through most of the night and be able to tell apart night and day. In this period, your baby will also start having fewer naps, and their sleep patterns will finally join the rest of the family’s routine.
7 to 11 months
The recommended amount of sleep for babies at this age is between 12 and 15 hours per day. This is because infants wake every couple of hours to eat. Breastfed babies usually eat every 2–3 hours, whereas bottle-fed ones tend to feed less often, which is about every 3–4 hours.
In the beginning, a baby’s life and regime can be challenging for parents, who have to regularly get up many times at night to tend to the baby’s needs. Every baby has a different sleep pattern. Some start to sleep throughout the night for between 5–6 hours at a time, but some don’t. If you want your little one to be in blissful slumber, but you don’t know where to start, maybe finding the right bed is the way to go. You can take a look at our guide on ‘Best Cot Mattresses’.
12 to 18 months
Overall, it is recommended that toddlers get between 11 and 14 hours of quiet time a day. Their napping goes down compared to infants, and they get 1-3 hours of napping per day. Two naps per day are normal at the beginning of this period, but older toddlers typically only take an afternoon nap. That’s when your child starts to get healthy sleep habits, and their bedtime routine is more structured. So finding the ‘Best Cot Bed Mattress’ for your kiddo is crucial, and you can take a look at our suggestions.
If your child is older, you can take a look at our guide on ‘How many hours of sleep do children need?’ for more information about kids for up to 13 years.
What can impact how much sleep newborns and babies get?
Generally speaking, there are two major factors that can impact how much sleep newborns and babies are getting, and they are premature birth and feeding methods.
For example, if your youngster was born prematurely, their sleep habits will likely differ from those of full-term infants. Surprisingly, many preemies can sleep up to 22 hours a day, depending on how much earlier they popped up.
Another example of an impact can be seen with bottle-fed infants, who tend to wake up less often at night and sleep for more extended periods compared to breastfed bundles of joy. That’s because formula takes more time to digest, but in the end, both get the same amount of sleep, so don’t worry.
If you want to improve your baby’s routine, you can set up a sleep schedule after they are at least three months old. The reason behind that is your newborn needs to nurse or take a bottle every few hours. Sleep safety is also crucial at a young age, which is why you should always place your baby on their back (never tummy) for naps and bedtime.
In the first few months of your babies growth, it is best if you avoid soft toys, blankets, pillows and bumpers because your kiddo needs a firm surface with no items that can cause them harm, like breathing issues.
Why do babies sleep so much?
This is a period of substantial growth that leads to babies sleeping more than half of the day. Sleep helps the brain to form networks and engage in activity that facilitates thinking and learning. In general, sleep and nutrition allow a baby to grow and have better motor skills.
Some babies are better sleepers than others. You will have to be extra careful during the first few weeks of your newborn’s growth and keep an eye on their diapers. There should be an adequate number of stools, and the baby’s urine should not be too yellow. However, especially in the first few months, your child will spend most of the time sleeping, which is normal and you shouldn’t worry.
A baby who does not sleep enough will be clingy and whiney, or they might be incredibly hyper and hard to soothe. It takes at least six months for a baby to develop its own rhythm. If yours seems to be unaware of any differences between night and day, a bit of help might be just what they need to get used to feeding at regular intervals and thriving.
What if your baby isn’t sleeping enough?
As young parents, most worry about their child’s sleep patterns and if they are not sleeping enough. But there is always a chance that your baby might be sleeping too little and not clocking the required amount of shut-eye for their age.
Overall, suppose your child sleeps log shows that their daytime and nighttime hours fall short of what they should be getting in a 24-hour period (as mentioned above), and there are signs of an overtired baby. In that case, you should talk to your paediatrician about how to help your little one get enough sleep.
The most common tips you’ll likely get from your doctor include following a consistent, soothing bedtime routine and providing a calm and quiet environment for sleep. Keep in mind that some babies sleep more than others, but soon your baby will be sleeping like a champ, and so will you!
How many naps should a baby take?
Unlike adults, youngsters don’t receive all of their required sleep during the night. Instead, most children under the age of seven take naps during the day to reach the optimal amount of sleep in a 24-hour period.
When it comes to exactly how many naps your baby needs, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. Every tiny human is different, and as long as their naps fall within the recommended number of hours per day, you should be worried.
You can try different nap times to find what works best for you and your little bundle of joy. Listen to your kids’ sleep cues and try using the natural lulls in your little one’s energy throughout the day to work out the best napping schedule.
To conclude our guide on ‘How much sleep do babies need’, we want to say that newborns follow their own schedule. So give it some time, and over the next few months, your baby will begin to settle into a routine.
Understand that in the beginning, your kid won’t be able to tell the difference between night and day, but you can keep things quiet and calm during the night, so they learn with time. Also, keeping the lights low and resisting the urge to play with or talk to your baby can help them learn when it’s time to sleep.
We hope we were able to answer the how and why, and now it’s our turn to hear from you if any questions regarding the subject were left unanswered. If you want to share some information, we would gladly hear about it in the comments below.