How much sleep should your baby be getting? When should he begin sleeping throughout the night? The main answer: Well, that depends.
Every baby is different and there is no right answer. But, like everything else with infants, there are general guidelines and milestones to which you should pay attention. That’s why we spoke to infant sleep specialist Dr. Rebecca Kempton, who provided the following chart. It details the hours of day, night and total sleep a child should receive. It’s even broken up into the amount of naps.
Please keep in mind that this is based on ideal sleep times for infants, and it’s perfectly natural for a baby to get more or less sleep from night to night.
Now, here’s a bit more information about those first few years of sleep.
The first few months
Newborns need 17-to-20 hours of sleep, but there’s no set schedule. They could be asleep at any given time, and usually will only wake long enough to eat and have a diaper change. Babies grow more in the first month than at any other stage, which is exhausting! n the first two months, it’s rare to see a baby awake for more than 60 minutes at a time. This is the rare phase of infancy where babies will actually be “sleeping like a baby” says Kerrin Edmonds a pediatric sleep consultant. By the second month, they might begin to sleep more reliably at night, but anything more than 4 hours at a time is rare.
A pivotal moment in infant sleep development comes about four months in, when a maturing circadian clock makes it possible to sleep through the night with only one or two night feedings.
By five months in, parents can set a sleep schedule with a bedtime, a wakeup time and roughly four naps during the day. According to Edmonds, most babies will respond to a regular wakeup time by requiring a midmorning nap, but the other naps will be taken as needed. To encourage the development of solid nighttime sleeping, it’s important to keep total naptime no longer than three or four hours.
As the first year progresses, overall sleep time will remain constant but will move more and more to the night. Naps shorten and night feedings become less common. Babies get accustomed to staying active for several hours at a time and will be very tired by an early bedtime of 7-to-8:30PM.
After a year, kids will consistently sleep through the night. The need for a morning nap gradually disappears, but an afternoon nap will remains essential for at least the next two years. That post-lunch cat nap absorbs the morning nap, and can last as long as three hours. Sleep development changes less dramatically after year one, and the basic schedule of early wakeup, early bedtime, and afternoon nap will persist through toddlerhood.