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How Much Sleep Do Babies Require?

It’s a universally known fact that babies need lots of sleep, and while there’s no set number of hours, there are specific guidelines you need to keep in mind. This includes gauging whether or not the child is still breastfeeding, how much time they spend sleeping during the day, and so on.

Read on as we look at the basic sleep requirements for babies before they turn one and after they cross that first milestone.

Sleep Requirements for Newborns

Newborns up to the age of around 3 – 4 months spend the most part of an entire day sleeping. In fact, their sleep requirements start with at least 15.5 hours and may go up to 17 – 18 hours in a 24-hour period. Note that these are not continuous. Babies of this age will instinctively wake up within 2 – 3 hours to fulfill their needs like being fed, having a wet diaper replaced with a clean one, and so on. Newborns may even sleep for up to 20 hours in a single day.

Typical sleeping patterns for newborns include 2-hour naps spread out through the day and a proper sleep of 8 – 12 hours at night including feeding breaks in between.

Sleep Requirements for Babies between 4 – 6 Months

This is the period where parents start sleep training babies so that they both the child and the parents can sleep for more hours consecutively during the night. They require less frequent feeding.

Sleep Training Tips

Some common tactics used to sleep train babies are:

  • Follow age-appropriate wake windows: newborns generally take naps that last for around 30 – 45 minutes but these may go up to about an hour and a half as well.
  • Properly feed your child and keep them comfortable and if they wake up, let them cry themselves to sleep again.
  • Set soothing intervals: if you can’t deal with crying babies, set time limits (such as 30 minutes of continuous crying) before you go back to sooth them and put them back to sleep.
  • Start off by putting your baby to bed only when they show signs of tiredness and sleepiness but are still completely awake. Adjust these timings by about 10 – 15 minutes until you reach a bedtime that works for both of you.
  • End all feedings at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

While most sleep training methods work over a couple of days, give your strategy at least 2 weeks to see if it works. Whichever method you’re using, stay persistent until your baby falls asleep.

Sleep Requirements for Infants Up To the Age of 1 Year

As babies grow older, they start needing a little less sleep. They need between 14-16 hours of sleep. After their first few months, babies fall into the habit of sleeping consecutively for more hours. For instance, during their night sleep, infants may be able to sleep for 5 hours straight without waking up to be fed. At the half year mark, babies transition to the point where they sleep more during the night and less during the day.

Sleep Requirements for Babies between the Ages of 1 – 2 Years

During this time, babies require a minimum of 12.5 – 13.5 hours of sleep in a 24-hour day. Babies at this age may show signs of separation anxiety, but they are also capable of soothing themselves and lulling themselves back to sleep.

Every Child is Different

Children have different sleeping habits, but one way to tell if your child is getting enough sleep is to gauge their mood: if they wake up content and stay calm/happy through the day, they’re probably getting enough sleep. If they’re throwing more tantrums and crying, the chances are that they are sleep deprived.

Many new parents start off with sleep charts to observe how much their baby is sleeping and how many of those hours fall at night. If these fall within the normal sleeping hours for babies, you’re good to go.

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