Knowing how much sleep your baby needs can be confusing when your neighbor’s newborn baby sleeps 17 hours a day and your friend’s a toddler sleeps 13 hours a day. Setting your expectations is an important first step. Occasionally, I’ll get e-mail from parents who believe their 6 month old baby should nap three times a day for two hours each time and while there are a few babies who need this much sleep, not many do, or if they are napping this much, they most likely aren’t sleeping as much at night.
How much sleep your baby needs, on average:
• Newborns to 3 month olds: 10-11 hours at night, 4-5 hours day in 4-5 naps (short naps are common)
• 4 to 5 month olds: 10-12 hours at night, 2-4 hours day in 3-4 naps (at least two 1+ hour naps)
• 6 to 8 month olds: 11-12 hours at night, 2-3 hours day in 2-3 naps (two 1+ hour naps and 1 short one)
• 9 to 17 month olds: 11-12 hours at night, 2-3 hours day in 1-2 naps (1+ hour long)
• 18 month olds to 3 years: 10-12 hours at night, 1 nap (1 to 3 hours long)
• 3 to 5 years: 10-11 hours, sometimes 1 nap (1 to 2 hours, usually), but most lose between 3 & 4)
• 5 years+: 9-10 hours, no nap
Keep in mind these are just average baby sleep needs, so some will naturally fall below and some above. If your baby is sleeping a lot more, and you are concerned, you should talk to your doctor. Typically, your baby may just need a lot of sleep, but since that is less time to learn and play, you’ll want to make sure if your baby’s sleep needs are excessively high. If your baby is waking up a lot at night or taking short naps, these averages might feel very far-fetched and like a dream.
How much sleep your baby gets and whether your baby gets enough sleep will depend on quite a few factors including your diligence in keeping your baby on routine, providing the opportunity for enough sleep, and their personality / willingness to sleep. We can’t *make* our babies sleep, we can only provide the opportunity.
Here are a few tips to make sure your baby gets the sleep she needs:
- Keep in mind the average amount of sleep appropriate for your baby’s age.
- Know your specific baby’s average by logging your baby’s sleep for a week or two.
- Don’t fall into the trap that later bedtime or keeping babies up longer will promote longer naps or better night sleep or waking later in the morning. Over-tiredness is the #1 reason babies take short naps, have more night-wakings, and wake earlier in the morning. Strange, but true. Consider reviewing our sample baby sleep and feeding schedules.
- Don’t fall into the trap thinking your baby doesn’t need more sleep because she’s happy all the time. Some babies get cranky without enough sleep and others don’t. Even if your baby is happy, she may still need more sleep than you are offering.
- If your baby is sleeping less than the averages and is happy, then don’t stress too much that you are forcing more sleep than she can sleep. If you know HER average and she’s getting close to that AND she’s happy, breathe a sigh of relief.
- Adjust how much sleep your baby needs as she gets older. Most of the time, babies will not need two hours less sleep overnight. However, your baby will slowly need less over time. This should only decrease at a slow rate, though.
Knowing how much sleep your baby needs is the first step to better sleep. Figuring out how to get that much sleep is a whole other matter. 😀 Hopefully these tips help get you on the right path.