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Home  >  Baby Sleep Articles  baby sleep patterns


(this article reprinted with permission of www.pampers.com)

all about baby sleep patterns

Your Baby's Sleep Patterns

There's nothing like the sight of a peacefully sleeping baby. But as many new parents can tell you, it's a sight they don't see nearly often enough.

No child "sleeps through the night," but babies do reach the point where they get themselves back to sleep when they wake up periodically.

Parents have a lot of questions when it comes to sleep and their baby. The first and most important: How much sleep does my baby need? Here are some general guidelines.
AGE Approx. amount of sleep needed:
Newborn 16 to 20 hours per day
3 weeks 16 to 18 hours per day
6 weeks 15 to 16 hours per day
4 months 9 to 12 hours plus two naps (2 to 3 hours each)
6 months 11 hours plus two naps (1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours each)
9 months 11 to 12 hours plus two naps (1 to 2 hours each)
1 year 10 to 11 hours plus two naps (1 to 2 hours each)
18 months 13 hours plus one or two naps (1 to 2 hours each)
2 years 11 to 12 hours plus one nap (2 hours)
3 years 10 to 11 hours plus one nap (2 hours)
4 to 5 years 10 to 12 hours. Usually no nap.

The amount of sleep needed varies individually with the baby and with the age and circumstances. Some babies are long sleepers and some are catnappers. Some are very regular and others are very irregular.

Click on your baby's age below to learn more about her sleep patterns.

  Newborn

  3 Weeks

  2 Months

  4 Months

  6 Months

  9 Months

  1 Year

  18 Months

  2 Years

  3 Years

  Preschool

Newborn

Your newborn baby doesn't know the difference between night and day. She needs to sleep and feed around the clock to grow and develop correctly, so night and day don't matter much to her anyway. In general, your newborn will sleep about 16 to 18 hours out of every 24. A newborn usually sleeps two to four hours at a time and wakes up hungry. She needs to eat around the clock at first but will gradually sleep more at night and less during the day.

You can begin to teach your baby the difference between night and day by behaving differently at different times. During the day, talk to your baby more while you feed her. Keep it light and bright. At night, be more subdued and quiet. Keep the lighting down. Eventually, she'll catch on and begin to sleep more at nighttime.

Remember, if you're breastfeeding, your hormones have reorganized your sleep patterns to match your baby's. These hormones will help you avoid sleep deprivation if you give yourself a chance. Nap during the day when the baby sleeps.Formula-fed babies may sleep longer because formula tends to stay in their stomachs longer, but in general, their sleep patterns mimic those of their breastfed peers'.

Tip: When your baby was in the womb, your walking motions lulled her to sleep. It's no surprise that your newborn still loves to be gently rocked and swayed. Swaddling also helps make her feel "at home." Many babies also find comfort in music. But remember: She's supposed to feed every two to three hours around the clock.

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3 Weeks

Although your baby still wakes up to eat during the night, she's probably sleeping for longer stretches at a time, maybe for three or four hours. She'll also start to stay awake for longer periods.

Remember, if you're breastfeeding, your hormones have reorganized your sleep patterns to match your baby's. These hormones will help you avoid sleep deprivation if you give yourself a chance. Nap during the day when the baby sleeps. Formula-fed babies may sleep longer because formula tends to stay in their stomachs longer, but in general, their sleep patterns mimic those of their breastfed peers'.

Tip: If your baby tends to sleep all day, dozing through her feedings, try waking her up to eat. She needs to learn that the longest sleeping period is during the night. Help her get a little bit more organized at this point by taking her into the center of family activity at around 4 p.m. Even if she dozes, keep her upright in an infant seat, carrier, or bouncy chair. Then give her a bath around 7 or 8 p.m. This will simultaneously keep her awake and relax her for her long sleep (3 to 4 hours) ahead.

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2 Months

Your baby is starting to settle herself down to sleep but probably still needs to wake up to eat during the night. Although her pattern is starting to become more regular, it's also starting to vary. Follow her lead. It's too early for a set schedule, and trying to force one on her wouldn't be healthy.

Babies at this age sleep a little less than they did as newborns, about 15 to 16 hours on average. Your baby will sleep most of these hours at night and will stay awake much longer during the day, although she'll be working her way toward three naps a day. As always, this varies with the baby.

Contrary to what your mother or mother-in-law may tell you, 2-month-old babies don't usually sleep through the night. There are huge differences among babies at this age, but most 2-month-olds still need to eat during the night.

Don't be surprised if your baby starts to be "hyperawake" and crying in the late afternoon or evening. This fussiness is normal. When she does settle, she's likely to sleep longer.

Tip: A little whimpering upon waking is normal. Although you should still go to your baby when she cries, give her a little time (five minutes or so) to whimper and cry. She may settle down on her own and go back to sleep.

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4 Months

The average 4-month-old baby sleeps about nine to 12 hours each day and takes about three two- to three-hour naps each day. This is a time of gradual transition toward two regular daily naps. On days when your baby has just two naps, she'll probably sleep more during the night.

Most babies this age have put most of their sleep into the nighttime hours and are more awake during the day.

Your baby is now capable of doing a lot more to settle herself to sleep. It's time to set up a pattern of putting her to sleep that will work for her during the night and at naps. Routine is very important to your 4-month-old, so try to make sure things like naps and bedtime happen at pretty much the same time and in the same way every day. You don't have to be rigid, just as consistent as possible.

Tip: Your baby will now roll a bit and will probably move around her crib. Consider a blanket sleeper, or she'll often end up outside of her covers and wake up cold. Check the label to be sure it's flame retardant.

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6 Months

Everyone's sleep patterns are different, and the same goes for your 6-month-old. Special circumstances such as sickness or sleeping in a strange bed at Grandma's could affect your baby's pattern; otherwise, her sleeping patterns are settling down.

The average 6-month-old sleeps about 11 hours each night and has settled into two naps of about one to two hours, usually in the morning and afternoon. Almost all healthy 6-month-olds can sleep through the night, with no need for midnight snacks or early-morning conversations unless you want to spend this time with your baby or are trying to keep up your milk supply.

Your baby is starting to get more opinionated, however. This is your last chance to decide where you want her to sleep without her becoming a vocal part of the decision-making process. Developing firm bedtime routines will help her get herself to sleep and stay asleep.

Tip: Here are a few good habits to help make bedtime easier:

 Put your baby to bed while she's still awake. This way she'll have practice falling asleep in her own bed. If she's fed or rocked to sound sleep, she'll expect the same service in the middle of the night.

 Give your baby a favorite soft toy or "lovey" to help her get to sleep. Although you'll want to keep your baby's crib free of lots of toys (and no large ones), one special blanket or stuffed animal is fine. It'll help her comfort herself to sleep.

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9 Months

Sleep concerns are very common at 8 or 9 months. Your baby may wake herself in the middle of the night and then wake everyone else in the household after previously sleeping through the night. This can put a big strain on parents and make them feel that life with their little one is backsliding.

Babies at 9 months sleep about 11 to 12 hours at night. Just as before, your baby will wake up every few hours all night long. The difference now, however, is that she remembers you and misses you when she awakens. Additionally, if she's used to being rocked or cuddled to sleep, then she'll expect the same in the middle of the night. It's up to you to decide whether you're prepared to be a part of this routine or want her to learn to fall back asleep on her own. If she cries, give her a chance to settle back down on her own. If she's frantic, settle her back down as simply and quietly as possible. Try to avoid picking her up if you want her to regularly sleep in her own bed.

Your baby will usually take two naps at this age. Both the afternoon and the morning nap typically last one to two hours. As her parent, you know best how much sleep your baby needs. But no matter what her personal average, she'll sleep less at night if she takes extra-long naps. If this happens in daycare, discuss it with the daycare provider to adjust your baby's schedule.

Tip: Children tend to sleep longer when they're ill. But adding more than an hour to a regular nap is unusual. If your baby is sleeping more than an hour longer than normal due to illness, check in with your health care provider right away.

Tip: Crawling, climbing, and standing at the crib rail are normal at this age. Be sure your baby's crib is safe, and know that she will learn that she can get down from a standing position on her own.

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1 Year

At 1 year, the bedtime struggles begin. Your baby is so excited by her new abilities to move, say words, and feed herself that settling down for bed gets harder and harder. She may tease you and try to get you to come pick her up and she's so cute that she's hard to resist! Maintain your bedtime routine, though, as this structure will help you both in the coming months.

The typical 1-year-old will sleep between 10 and 12 hours at night and take a couple of one- to two-hour naps during the day. As always, the amount of sleep depends on the individual baby.

Many children adopt a "lovey," a blanket or stuffed animal, to help them settle. This is a positive step toward independence. A pacifier is a bad choice and should be removed at this age.

Tip: You may notice that your baby's afternoon nap is getting a little shorter, but that she seems content to play in her crib a bit before calling for you to come get her. Put a few small toys in her crib to encourage this behavior. But make sure they're not too big she could learn how to stack them and climb out of her crib.

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18 Months

Life is so fun and intense for your 1-and-a-half-year-old that going to sleep is the last thing she wants to do. She needs your help to quiet down at night so she can get her much-needed rest.

Babies at 18 months typically need 13 hours of sleep every 24 hours. This is often less sleep than their parents think and wish they needed.

Because sleeping needs are different from child to child, you'll have to figure out what's right for your child. Here are a few suggestions to help you out:

 Your child may soon need only one nap each day. But she will probably need two rest periods, even if one is short.

 Many kids in day care get two naps, even if they don't need them. That means your child will need less sleep at night. If you don't want to deal with a late bedtime or early wake-up time, you may want to talk to your day care provider about changing the amount of sleep your toddler gets during the day.

 If you have an older child, she may actually need an earlier bedtime than your 18-month-old. This is especially true if the older one doesn't nap during the day. Your baby's naptime is a good chance to spend some quality one-on-one time with your other child(ren).

Tip: A bottle at night is a bad habit. It's bad for your toddler's teeth and her ears, and if it becomes part of her routine, she'll always need it to fall asleep, even when she wakes up in the middle of the night. Get rid of it now if you haven't done so already.

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2 Years

Your 2-year-old is still trying to bend the rules to be sure they're real, and struggles over getting to sleep are common. Your toddler doesn't want to leave you or her exciting day. What to do? Establish rituals and routines for bedtime. It's the best way to encourage good sleeping habits and still make her feel secure.

Different toddlers need different amounts of sleep. But in general, 2-year-olds need 13 hours of sleep per 24 hours. Typically, they'll sleep 11 to 12 hours at night, with maybe one nap each afternoon of one to two hours.

Toddlers are big on refusing to go to bed. Being consistent every day about bedtime rules and routines is the best way to teach your child good sleeping habits and make things easier on you. Here are a few tips:

 Start winding down after dinner. Slowing the pace for yourself and your child will help make the transition to bedtime easier. Reading, singing, and quiet play are better than running around.

 Keep the before-bed routine short and sweet. Bathing, brushing teeth, and going to the bathroom shouldn't take more than a half hour or so. Any longer and your child will start getting wound up and you'll start getting frustrated.

 Your toddler will probably refuse to go to bed at least some of the time. Be firm and consistent about bedtime rules.

 Toddlers don't need their own rooms. In fact, many children this age sleep more soundly with someone else in the room. Another child between the ages of 3 and 5 would make a good roommate. Older children can usually sleep very well through almost any kind of ruckus.

Tip: Leave a book or one other quiet toy in your child's bed so she can amuse herself for a little while after awakening. She can't understand the concept of "too early," but you can tell her to stay in her room until the light comes in the window or she hears you say good morning (or some other specific signal).

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3 Years

The average 3-year-old sleeps about 12 hours each day. This usually means 10 or 11 hours at night and a one- to two-hour nap. Naptimes are more variable for 3-year-olds than for 2-year-olds. Your 3-year-old may need more or less sleep depending on the day's events, an illness, changes in her routine, or any developmental changes she's going through. Whatever amount of time your child naturally sleeps in a day is the amount she needs.

Your 3-year-old leads a very busy life, fueled by her improving language ability and active imagination. At night, these can also set the stage for vivid dreams and nightmares. You can't and shouldn't want to prevent her wild dreams; they help her deal with the challenges of her day. But you can help her settle down each night by keeping her bedtime routine calm and simple. Other types of nighttime ups and downs are pretty routine at this age click here for more.

Tip: If your child has trouble sleeping without a light on, put a dimmer on the switch and let her adjust it. Praise her as she turns it down, and in a few weeks she'll be used to a very dim light. Or try gradually lowering the wattage of a table lamp bulb over several weeks.

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Preschool

Your preschooler will have sleep ups and downs: Sometimes she'll be very resistant to go to bed, and other times she'll test your patience by bouncing up again and again, now accompanied by arguments and negotiations.

At this age, most children will give up napping. But if they do nap, that will reduce nighttime sleep, which is about 10 to 12 hours.

If you have to drag your preschooler out of bed in the morning, she may need an earlier bedtime and/or no nap during the day to get in a more balanced schedule. Also avoid altered bedtimes on the weekends. She'll have a hard time adjusting on Monday.

Night awakenings at this age are less frequent, as most preschoolers can get themselves back to sleep. They can remember dreams more than at a younger age, too, so they may recall these upsets in vivid terms. Don't be too worried by the dream content unless your child seems stuck on it.

Tip: Watch TV carefully at this age, particularly in the evening. Most children and particularly bright, sensitive ones take those images to bed, making it hard to get to sleep or to banish those monsters from under the bed.

Tip: Some medications can disrupt sleep. If there's a new sleep problem and a new medicine, ask your health care provider if they're related.

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  • This article is  copyrighted, and used with permission of the Pampers Parenting Institute. All information on Slumber Sounds is for educational purposes only, and is not  medical  or healthcare advice, nor a substitute for medical and professional services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal situation. For medical advice, including diagnosis and treatment, consult your physician or other healthcare provider regarding any condition and before starting any treatment. We supply this information with the understanding that Slumber Sounds is not engaged in rendering medical services or other professional services or advice. 

 




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