How much should my baby sleep? Age-appropriate sleep expectations

Do you get confused and overwhelmed by all the various tips and advice thrown at you concerning your child’s sleep? How much should my baby sleep? What IS normal?

We mums often get trapped in a cycle of comparing ourselves to other mums, or our children with other children (especially on the topic of sleep!). If your baby hasn’t struggled with sleep, that’s great! Some babies just seem to find sleep easier than others. Personality can also play a big role here.

However, other babies, for whatever reason, struggle a lot with sleep, and this can really leave parents tired, frustrated, and a little bit insecure. It helps here for you to have realistic expectations of your children. If we expect our newborns to sleep for extended stretches overnight, we are most likely going to be disappointed.

month my month sleep expectations and how much your baby needs to sleep

How much should babies sleep?

What are realistic expectations? Let’s look at various ages and what we can expect biologically from babies in the sleep department.

Age-appropriate sleep expectations

  • Newborns (0-12 weeks old):Often wake every 2-4 hours in the night to be fed. May do one longer stretch of sleep per night (4-5 hours). Newborns often have 3-5 naps during the day and very short awake times of 1-1.5 hours.
  • 3-6 months:Can start to sleep slightly longer stretches at night if weight gain is good (5-8 hours). Often need to be fed 2-3 times a night still. Are usually having 3-4 naps at this stage. The awake time between naps is usually about 1.5-2.25 hours.
  • 6-9 months:Can usually sleep 6-10 hours in a stretch at night, and often feed 1-3 times a night. Babies usually drop the 3rd nap sometime at this age, and start eating solid foods. Awake time should be about 2.25-3 hours.
  • 9-12 months:Can sometimes sleep 11-12 hours through the night at this age, or may still wake 1-2x to be fed. 2 naps at this age with awake time of about 2.5-3.5 hours.
  • 12-18 months:From 12 months onward hunger is not usually a cause for night waking. Most babies are capable of sleeping 11-12 hours through, if weight gain is good. Babies should be eating lots of solids here and having 2 naps a day, and an awake time between naps of about 3-4 hours.
  • 18-24 months:Usually the morning nap drops around 18 months, leaving just 1 nap at lunchtime. Awake time before and after the lunchtime nap should be about 4.5-5.5 hours. If baby still waking in the night at this age, it is definitely not hunger, and sleep associations/sleep environment/nutrition etc needs to be evaluated.
  • 24-36 months: If still napping, awake time before and after lunch nap should be about 5.5-6 hours. The lunchtime nap drops anytime between 2.5-3.5 years old.

This is just a rough guide, and depending on your babies weight and development, they may not place exactly on this guide. Bigger babies tend to be able to stay awake for slightly longer between naps than petite babies, for example. Plus, if you are content with how things are, there is no need to change anything!

However, if you do decide you want to make some changes, make sure that the changes you want to make are age-appropriate first, and be aware that it takes 2-3 weeks for new habits to form.

Being realistic helps you to stay calm, and this rubs off on your child as well.

If you’re struggling to get your child’s sleep back on track, don’t hesitate to book a no-strings-attached complimentary sleep consultation, where we can look at your situation and see how we can help you find better sleep for your whole family!

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