Frequently Asked Questions
How much sleep does my baby need?
A Lot! Many parents are surprised to learn that children need anywhere between 12 and 18 hours of sleep per day, depending on the age of your child. Here are some specific guidelines for different age groups:
- 0 – 3 months of age: 16 – 18 hours per day
- 3 – 6 months of age: about 15 hours per day
- 6 – 12 months of age: about 14 hours per day
- 12 months of age and up: 12 – 13 hours per day
A good night’s sleep gives children the energy they need to wake up each morning feeling happy, refreshed and ready to learn, so if you’re concerned that your child might not be getting enough sleep, please keep reading! (Plus, if your child isn’t getting enough sleep, there’s a good chance that YOU aren’t getting enough sleep either… and this lack of sleep has been linked to everything from postpartum depression to weight gain in new mothers.)
Why does my newborn want to sleep all day and stay up all night?
A common complaint with new parents is that their child seems to be very sleepy during the day and very active at night—just the opposite of most adults! Firstly, understand that this is quite natural during the first 4 – 6 weeks, so try to make the best of it. When possible, sleep when your baby is sleeping. (You’ll need the energy!) A good way to help encourage your child to make the transition to “normal” waking hours is by making sure that you make a clear distinction between daytime and night. This means keeping the house brighter and more active during the day, and darker and quieter at night. (Avoid the temptation to get up and start watching TV or doing chores in the middle of the night.)
How can I get my baby to sleep longer?
Your baby will sleep for longer stretches once they have learned the skills needed to fall asleep independently. This simply means that your child must be able to get to sleep without any help from you.
A “sleep cycle” lasts about 45 minutes in both adults and children. This means that we all wake up (very briefly) every 45 minutes or so. In most adults (and children who can fall asleep independently), these “wake-ups” are so brief that we aren’t even aware of them.
However, if a child relies on a parent in order to fall asleep (if the child is rocked or nursed to sleep, for example), then that child will quite often need to be rocked or nursed back to sleep every time they wake.
How many naps should my child be taking during the day?
It depends on the age of your child. Of course, every child is different, but here are some good guidelines: » Age 0 – 3 months: 4 or 5 naps per day
- Age 3 – 6 months: 3 naps per day
- Age 6 – 14 months: 2 naps per day
- Age 15 months – 3 years: 1 nap per day
Note that each nap should last somewhere between 1 and 3 hours!
How can I tell when my baby is getting tired?
One of the most common mistakes parents make is waiting until their baby is overtired before putting the baby to bed. (This actually makes falling asleep much more difficult for your little one.)
You can tell when your baby is starting to get tired by the following signs:
- Rubbing eyes
- Arching back
- Pulling ears
When you notice your baby starting to show these signs, it’s either naptime or bedtime. Getting your baby into bed before overtiredness sets in will make things much easier for everyone!
When should my baby be sleeping through the night?
It depends. Every child is different, but assuming that your baby is healthy, you can expect 12 hours of solid nighttime sleep between the ages of 3 and 6 months.
If your child is 6 months of age or older and still not sleeping through the night, there are some simple steps you can take to quickly improve the length of your child’s sleep.