THIS Is What Good Baby Sleep Looks Like, According To Science.

good baby sleep

It’s that time again: time for new sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). Every so often, the AASM releases recommendations for healthy child sleep; now, we have their 2016 recommendations. Let’s take a look!

How Much Sleep Do Babies and Toddlers Need?

Our team looked at this area of the report first, and we were very pleased to learn that our sleep plan recommendations line up exactly with the recommended sleep totals from the AASM:

  • Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
  • Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
  • Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
  • Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

Why Is Good Baby and Toddler Sleep Important?

We’ve written about this quite a bit before and were very pleased to see that the new AASM recommendations reiterate the importance of quality sleep while also warning about the dangers of chronic sleep deprivation. From the report:

The group found that adequate sleep duration for age on a regular basis leads to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.

Not getting enough sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially for teens who may experience increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

We would add to this that, among parents of young children, “adequate sleep” can sometimes bec considered an afterthought or an unattainable goal. In reality, however, all babies and toddlers CAN learn to sleep soundly and nap consistently with some gentle sleep coaching from mom or dad. Even better, when you prioritize sleep early on in your child’s life, you create a foundation for lifelong healthy sleep habits that will benefit your child well into their adult years.

And speaking of healthy sleep habits, this brings us to the final recommendation from the AASM….

Why “Screens Off” Is A Key Part Of Healthy Sleep Hygiene

There are many elements that make up healthy sleep “hygiene”, including….

Interestingly, however, the AASM prioritizes one sleep hygiene recommendation above all others:

In addition to these recommendations, the AAP suggests that all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime and that TV, computers and other screens not be allowed in children’s bedrooms.

Why the focus on eliminating screens from the bedroom and minimizing screen time right before bed? Perhaps because we are living in the most “wired” society in human history! Your family (children included) is no doubt surrounded by screens of all shapes and sizes all day long. But in truth, TV and sleep just do not mix. It’s so crucial, then, that limited screen time and no screens in the bedroom be an integral part of your family’s sleep routines.

How much sleep do your children get? Questions or comments about these baby and toddler sleep guidelines? Scroll down to leave a question or a comment and to hear from other parents!

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8 thoughts on “THIS Is What Good Baby Sleep Looks Like, According To Science.”

  1. Optimal sleep can certainly be hard to achieve…

    Some great tips in here though. Eliminating screen time is of course something that even we adults could be better about! So glad I found this site–looks like you have a huge amount of resources available!

    • @Michelle Thank you for your comments! 🙂 Please keep reading and be sure to share our site with others who you believe will find it useful.

  2. Hello
    My 5 weeks son does not sleep more than 6 hours per day including naps (since his birth). He s growing well (I am breastfeeding). Shall I be worried? He never sleeps more than 2 hours in a row and usually never after 4am. I am afraid that his brain will not develop properly. Any advice?

    • @Daniela Hi, thanks for your comment! I’m sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble with your newborn’s sleep. The average 5 week-old does sleep around 20 hours a day, so 6 hours is very low. We would encourage you to check in with your son’s pediatrician just to make sure he’s doing well, as sometimes there are health issues that can cause poor sleep. You might also like our free ebook on newborn sleep to help you maximize the sleep he does get:
      Good luck with everything!

  3. My 10 month old son has what we think is a habitual night waking, which usually happens about 3 – 3.5 hours after he goes to sleep. He then is up for around 2 hours, sometimes more before going back to sleep, which is generally very much done with every association you can name. We have been capping his naps for quite a while now, because on his own, he would nap for 2-2.5 hours, for two naps, and then have many night wakings, with long periods of wakefulness. I’m wondering if we are just in a hole of sleep debt and things are not going to get any better until he makes up for that. Do you recommend doing a sort of “sleep cleanse” or “reboot?” Meaning, allow him to sleep as long as he wants whenever he wants before reinforcing his regular schedule again and working on his associations? I just feel so bad that we are constantly waking him up to try to fit him into this perfect sleep scenario, and he just isn’t getting enough sleep.

    • @Joyce I’m sorry your son has been having these troubles with sleep. If it is a new occurrence, your child may be experiencing the 8-10 month sleep regression. This is a great article that can help you determine if it’s a regression, or something else:

      I completely understand wanting to limit sleep during the day in hopes that your child will sleep better at night. This can actually be counterintuitive, as it can create an overtired situation and actually hinder night sleep. Generally, you only need to wake your child from a nap if their total nap time exceeds 3 hours for the whole day.

      If these lengthy night wakings have been going on for quite some time, then you may want to consider sleep coaching. If you decide to go this route, then you can check out this article that describes the most popular methods of sleep training:

      I hope this information helps! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

  4. With both parents working full-time it’s very difficult to get our 2-year old to sleep before 9pm, and on nights when he fights sleep it can even run into 10pm or later and that’s when I feel like I’ve failed him. But, his naps have greatly improved in the last 6mo so I’m relieved to see that at least on good days when he’s down by 9pm and up at 7am with a 2-2.5hr nap he’s still within the recommendations. And I do notice a difference when we make a point of “setting the stage” for bedtime with all screens off and having quality time reading or doing puzzles.

    • @NatesMom Thank you for commenting and please don’t feel like you’ve failed your little guy when he goes to bed later than you like! It can be very difficult to get toddlers to bed when both parents work full-time, as we know. It can even be difficult to get toddlers to bed at a decent time with parents who stay home! 🙂 The key is to get your kiddo on a schedule and bedtime routine that works for him and for your family. It’s completely normal for a toddler to go to bed later when he’s napping for more than 2 hours during the day – they tend to need that longer wake time before bed by 2 years old. You can use our free schedule maker here at any time to find general suggestions as to nap and bedtimes to help you with his schedule:

      And toddlers do tend to go through a sleep regression around this age that can make getting decent sleep even harder for a while. You can read more about that here:

      And that’s great to hear about his naps improving and his good sleep on those days! So wonderful! It’s so important to remember to celebrate every achievement and any progress on this sleep journey. 🙂 Best of luck to you!

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