Updated: Apr 4, 2019
The only thing that is constant is change, this applies to sleep too. Your little one's sleep is constantly changing and will continue to do so dramatically for the first 18 - 24 months of his life.
As a sleep coach, I am often asked how much sleep a baby really need per night, and how many naps a baby should be taking each day. The truth is that baby sleep needs vary based on age, and change fairly often. However, you may be surprised to learn that the total number of hours your baby needs per night will stay fairly consistent from the time they are born until the age of four give or take a couple of hours!
In this post, I am going to dive deep into how your child’s sleep patterns may change with age, so you can walk away with a better understanding as to what your child’s sleep patterns may look like as they grow. And, while it may seem like our little one’s needs are always changing, one thing that stays consistent is the need for quality sleep for the whole family. So, let’s take a look at what consistent sleep will look like for your baby from birth to age four.
What you Need to Know About Sleep Patterns and Age
Sleep patterns will change, and they are going to change often, about every few months up until your child is nearly 2 years old. The total amount of sleep required for the first few years will not change too much; however, what will change is how that sleep is dispersed throughout the day and evening hours. How and when your child naps and goes to bed at night can be a game changer for how well they sleep.
Sleep Patterns By Age
The following is a breakdown of the average amount of sleep needed for each age. Keep in mind that this is an average and that every child is different. Optimal sleep habits for every age is essential for the growth of your little one.
Save this cheat sheet below to your phone so you can be sure your little one is getting the sleep they need.
Birth to Two Years
Newborn: During the newborn stage is when you can expect your bundle of joy to be sleeping a lot! Expect four or more naps per day (no schedule) and eleven hours of sleep at night. Your newborn should be sleeping about 16-20 hours out of a 24-hour period. During these early weeks, you will likely be feeding often, about every 2.5 - 3 hours during the day, even if it means waking your baby to eat.
3 Months: At three months, your baby will be taking about four naps per day, and sleeping for 11 hours each night for an average of 15.5-18 hours of sleep per 24-hour period. You will want to encourage naps about every 1.5 hours during the day, or less if your baby appears tired before that. Each nap should be at least one hour long.
4 Months: Four-month-olds will have 3-4 naps per day, and sleep 11-12 hours at night for a total of 15-15.5 hours of sleep per 24-hours. Bedtime may also start to be earlier than before, especially if your baby is starting to nap three times per day instead of four.
The time between naps may also be a bit more spaced out and can be up to every 1.75 hours. Note that babies do tend to go through a phase where they will want to cat-nap, so be sure to move bedtime up if they are losing out on sleep time by napping for shorter periods of time.
5 - 7 Months: By five months, your baby will likely be napping three times per day, and the third nap may only be about 30-minutes. Make sure the last nap ends by 5:00pm. If your baby is refusing the third nap, you may need to move bedtime up even earlier to help prevent the need for a nap too late in the day which can interfere with nighttime sleeping. They will still be sleeping 11-12 hours per night, totaling 14-15 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
8-12 Months: Between the ages of 8-12 months, your baby will likely be taking two naps per day, sleeping 11-12 hours at night, and sleeping a total of 14 - 15 hours per 24-hours. At nine months, your pediatrician may also give you the green light to allow your little one to sleep through the night without a feed, especially if you have been on a solid schedule with solids for a little bit of time. This is great news when it comes to sleep for the whole family!
PLEASE NOTE: When your child gets closer to the one-year mark, you may notice them starting to gravitate towards one nap per day. However, most kiddos still need two naps per day until at least 13-months of age, so don’t rush to drop that second nap of the day as it can interfere with quality nighttime sleep.
13-18 Months: At 13 months, your child may drop their second nap, and choose one long nap, while others will still rely on two naps per day. The average age to transition to 1 nap is 15 months, so do not rush it. At this age, your little one should still be sleeping 11-12 hours at night, and 13-14 hours total for the day.
19-23 Months: Between 19-23 months, your child should be on a solid one nap a day schedule, sleeping 10-12 hours at night (11.5 average) for a total of 13 - 14 hours per 24-hours.
Two Years Old and Beyond
2 Years Old: Two-year-old’s will still likely require one nap per day, 10-12 hours of sleep per night, and 12-13 hours of total sleep per day.
3 Years Old: At the age of three, your little one will still be holding onto that one nap per day. In fact, 91% of kids at this age are still napping. Three-year-old’s also need 10 - 12 hours of sleep at night and 11-12 hours in 24-hours.
4 Years Old: At the age of four, your child may no longer need that daily nap while others may require a nap every few days. It is estimated that 50% of four-year-old’s will need a nap at least five days per week. At this age, they will still be needing about 10-12 hours of sleep per night, requiring 10-13 hours total in one day.
While it may seem like your baby’s sleep requirements are constantly changing, accepting that they will change as your baby grows and adjusting accordingly can be the best way to help them regulate their sleep patterns.
Stick to your usual nap and bedtime routines, and move bedtime up by 30 - 45 minutes during nap transitions can be helpful (and temporary). Also know that another key trick during sleep transitions, and really during every aspect of childhood is to keep your little one well-rested. A well-rested baby is going to fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer which makes for a happy and healthy child!
Need more help with your little one's sleep? Schedule a free 30 minute discovery call today to learn more about my services and how I can help.