How much should my baby sleep?

This seems to be one of the most common questions new parents ask. It actually depends od two factors: your baby’s age and their individual needs. Sometimes they sleep less sometimes they sleep more – in both cases parents becomes worried. Sleep is important for your baby but it is highly unlikely that they are not getting enough of it. Irregular naps are nothing uncommon, especially among newborns. They don’t really have a day/night pattern yet and they also don’t do days and nights. You just have to get used to it.

Amount of sleep babies need in their first year

Here is a rough guide of how much sleep does a baby need depending on their age:

  • newborns up to one month – 16-20 hours a day;
  • three month old – 15 hours;
  • six month old – 14 hours;
  • one year old – 13-14 hours;

The distribution of sleep during the day changes dramatically with age. Newborns usually sleep in three hour intervals with breaks for feeding only. This changes after couple of weeks and the sleep periods extends up tp 5 hours. The sleep is nonetheless still very irregular and there is no clear day and night cycle. The pattern of sleeping at night and spending more time in the real world starts to develop around third month. At this age a baby will spend 10 hours sleeping at night and about 5 hours sleeping during the day. The time of night sleep will increase over time and the time of day naps will decrease. When a baby is six month they usually sleep 11 hours at night and 3 during the day. When they reach the age of 12 months they will usually sleep 12 hours during the night and only 2 during the day.

Day/night sleep pattern

Photo by Richard Orr, source, CC-BY-2.0.

Newborns no not have any sleep pattern and they wake up at random, usually when they become hungry. At the age of three months some sleeping patterns become to form. You can promote formation of this patterns and help your baby to sleep better. The easiest way to do it is to put your baby to sleep day by day at the same time. They may not initially cooperate but after some time this will become natural. Babies love routine, they need routine to feel safe. By promoting development of a healthy day/night sleep pattern by your child you are making them develop properly.

Teach your baby how to sleep

This applies to babies 6 month old and older. At this age they should already have developed a day and night sleep pattern and it’s time to learn how to fall asleep by themselves. This may seem natural and instinctive but falling asleep is a process that we all have to learn. It takes some time for the baby to learn how to just fall asleep. You actually can not do much to help but you can do much not to disturb this learning process. When your child wakes up at night and your are immediately holding them in your hand even though everything is OK you are not actually making much good.

How did your baby sleep when they were 1, 3, 6 month old?


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