Sleep is of paramount importance to young children. Early in life, a person experiences tremendous development that affects the brain, body, emotions, and behavior and sets the stage for their continued growth through childhood and adolescence
Newborn sleep overview
It helps to remember a few tenets of newborn baby sleep so you don’t tear your hair out when you’re up in the middle of the night time and time again:
1. Newborns sleep for most of the day.
A newborn baby doesn’t have much of a pattern to his sleep schedule. Baby will be sleeping anywhere from 14 to 17 out of every 24 hours, give or take. Your little one will probably only be awake for 30 minutes to an hour at a time, and will nap anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours at a stretch.
2. Newborns need to eat around the clock.
Newborns have very tiny tummies, so while it would be nice to load up your baby with breast milk or formula at bedtime and not hear from him until morning, it doesn’t work that way (at least not yet). Newborn babies need to eat at least every two to four hours, including overnight.
Babies under 12 months: sleep needs
Most newborns don’t have definite day and night sleep patterns. They’re still learning to tell the difference between day and night.
Newborns generally sleep for 16-20 hours in a 24-hour period, but they wake every 2-4 hours to be fed. They need lots of feed because they have tiny tummies.
Over the first 12 weeks most newborns start to develop day and night sleep patterns. By three months, babies are averaging 14-15 hours of sleep in each 24-hour period.
At this age, most babies sleep 10-18 hours in a 24-hour period. On average, they sleep around 14 hours.
Although they’re growing quickly, babies still need to wake for feeding at this age.
Sleeping patterns vary a lot, but babies generally nap three times during the day. Most babies need help to settle to sleep.
During these months most babies still sleep for around 14 hours in a 24-hour period.
Here’s what to expect during the day:
Most babies nap during the day.
Naps usually last 1-2 hours. Some babies sleep longer. Up to a quarter of all babies of this age nap for less than an hour.
And here’s what to expect at night:
Most babies are ready for bed between 6 pm and 10 pm.
Most babies take less than 30 minutes to get to sleep.
Many babies wake during the night and need an adult to settle them back to sleep. About 1 in 10 babies will do this 3-4 times a night.
More than a third of parents say they have problems with their baby’s sleep at this age.
Babies over 12 months: sleep needs
At 12-18 months old, babies generally sleep 13-15 hours over a 24-hour period. Most babies have naps twice a day until around 18 months. Around this time babies often go from having two naps to having one longer daytime nap.
Some babies start to resist going to sleep at night, preferring to stay up with the family. This peaks at around 18 months and tends to go away with age.
What if my baby isn’t sleeping enough?
There is also a chance that your baby might be sleeping too little and not clocking the required amount of shut-eye for her age.
If your baby sleep log shows that her daytime and nighttime hours fall short of what she should be getting in a 24-hour period and you see telltale signs of an overtired baby — including persistent fussiness, trouble settling down to sleep at night, and short catnaps instead of full naps, to name a few — talk to your pediatrician about how to help your little one get enough sleep.
Getting to know your baby’s sleep cues and following a consistent, soothing bedtime routine are among the tips you’ll likely get from your doctor.
As you slog through the early days, weeks and months with your baby, know that she’s very likely on the right track when it comes to the amount of sleep she needs. So while it may seem as if no one’s getting enough Zzzs at your house, in time there will be a little more shut-eye for everyone — and soon your baby will be sleeping like a champ.
How Does Feeding Affect Sleep for Babies?
There is some debate about how and whether the method of feeding affects a baby’s sleep. While some research has found more nighttime awakenings in babies who are breastfed, other studies have found little difference between sleep patterns of breastfed and formula-fed babies.
Overall, because of documented health benefits apart from sleep, the AAP recommends exclusively breastfeeding for six months and then continuing with complementary breastfeeding for a year or more. Although not firmly established, there is some evidence that babies who are breastfed may have better sleep during their preschool years.