How much Sleep Your Baby Needs

The amount of sleep your baby needs will change gradually as she grows. She will transition from needing as much as 16 to 20 hours of sleep every 24 hours in the first few weeks after birth to about 10 to 13 hours a day when she is a toddler. Getting Enough sleep is essential to a healthy development especially for babies.425939475_cfef1e2d68_z

Unlike adults, your baby’s sleep needs, in her first year, cannot be met with just night sleep. The total amount of sleep your child needs, is the time she needs for her naps and her night sleep put together. So if she takes 2 naps of about 2 hours each, another 1 hour nap and sleeps 11 hours at night, a day, she has a total sleep of 16 hours. This is normally sufficient for babies between 6 to 9 months old.

Depending on your child and certain factors including your child’s age, the amount of sleep she needs will vary. Below is a general guide for babies at different stages of development.

1 – 6 weeks:       16  to 20 hours

Typically, even though newborns sleep for up to 20 hours, they do so in short periods of about 2 to 4 hours round the clock because at this age they do not yet have an internal biological clock, or circadian rhythm, so their sleep patterns are not related to the daylight and nighttime cycles.

7 weeks – 3 months:       18  to 20 hours

At about 2 months your baby would start sleeping longer periods during the night and staying up longer during the day. The day and night-time confusion ending.  You may notice your baby developing a more regular sleep pattern. This is when you can start shaping your baby’s sleep by encouraging and guiding her towards having longer night sleeps and helping her sleep through the night.

3 – 6 months:       14  to 16 hours

Most Babies at this stage still need at least 2 naps a day, from 1 – 3 hours each. one nap in the morning, and one in the afternoon and probably one cat-nap about an hour in the late afternoon. At about 4 months, your baby should be sleeping through at least one nighttime feeding and perhaps through the entire night.

7 – 12 months:       14  to 15 hours

At seven months, your baby probably still takes 2 regular naps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. She is also likely to sleep through the night as much as 12 hours without needing a middle-of-the-night feeding. But be aware of possible problems ahead: As her separation anxieties intensity in the next few months, she may star to resist bedtime and may wake up more often looking for you.

During this stage you may need to experiment with different strategies on how to your baby to go to sleep such as using a soft blanket or a stuffed animal to help her go to sleep easily.

1 – 3 years:       12  to 14 hours

As your toddler gets to about 18 months she will likely loose her morning nap and start to nap just once a day between 1 to 3 hours. Her night sleep should now be uninterrupted and about 10 to 12 hours long. Most toddlers don’t get as much sleep as they need, because they are more active, they tend to resist bedtime and nap time more strongly

3+- 6 years:       12  to 14 hrs

Most children at 3 years of age typically still take occasional naps up to 4 years, while most at 5 years don’t take any nap at all. They usually go to bed between 7 and 9 p.m. and wake up around 6 and 8 a.m., just as they did when they were younger, but with shorter naps or no naps at all.



– Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5

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Signs of Sleepiness in Babies and Toddlers

338937124_c6dfbcf7bb_zSigns of Sleepiness. Are they Important?

Yes. When a young child is over-tired, they find it harder to get to sleep or stay asleep for very long, when they eventually sleep. Once you can spot these signs of tiredness and sleepiness, you would be able to settle your child to sleep at the right time before over-tiredness sets in. Some children become irritable, very fussy, demanding or overactive when they get really tired, some as a way of fighting the sleep.

It is important to look out for these signs of tiredness and sleepiness so as to avoid stimulating your child when he is tired and start settling for sleep. These sleep signs are also important when you are starting a sleep schedule and/or a sleep routine to help improve your child’s sleep.

Spotting signs of tiredness in your baby (before they get over-tired) lets you get your child to sleep more easily. Every baby is different so signs of sleepiness in one baby will differ from another baby’s signs of sleepiness or over-tiredness. Some of these signs are easy to spot while some are not so obvious

Signs of sleepiness in Newborns

Newborn sleep for up to 18 hours a day and have short awake-time. So after about 1 hour or 1 1/2, your baby may start showing signs of tiredness. Some of the tired signs in newborns are:

  • tugging at his ears
  • trying to rub the eyes
  • not being able to focus his eyes
  • yawning
  • arching his back
  • start become a little unsettled and a bit restless
  • suckling his finger

Signs of Sleepiness in Babies and Toddlers

Babies from 4 months and toddlers usually show a little more distinct signs of sleepiness. Some of these signs depends on your babies temperament and include:

  • becoming fussy
  • crying easily
  • getting clingy and needing constant attention
  • grizzling
  • becomes bored  with toys
  • yawning
  • rubbing of eyes

What to do when you spot these signs of Sleepiness and Tiredness

  • It is recommended to start a simple routine consisting of 2 or 3 calming activities like swaddling, cuddling, rocking or reading to your baby. A 5 to 10 minutes routine would be good enough for naps and up to 20 minutes for night sleep.
  • Make it a quiet time by reducing the noise around your baby or moving him to a quiet area before he sleeps. If the house is noisy it might take your child longer to settle down and sleep.
  • Reduce stimulating activities when your child starts to show signs of sleepiness. Talk quietly and soothingly, darken the room a bit with blinds or thick curtains during the day and dim the lights or lights out at night.

These are calming activities to get your baby settled. You might have to experiment to see what works for your baby. It could take a few days or a few weeks for your baby to start sleeping better. The important thing here is to be able to

  • identify your baby’s sleep cues (signs of sleepiness)
  • have a positive sleep routine or pick something that works for your baby
  • be patient, committed and consistent because babies thrive well on consistency
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