How much Sleep Is Enough for Your Baby?
Latest update: September 20, 2018
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
sleep is enough? There are two ways to
answer this question:
- Observe (useful checks
- Compare average amounts (listed below)
of these two will give you the best idea about your little one's
The first option, even though subjective, is in fact the most reliable.
Your child's behavior are the best
signs of how
much is enough because perfectly tailored to her.
Checking the average amounts (hours)
at different ages can be a useful,
indicator. At the same time it's important to take the numbers for what
are: averages. That means there is a lot of room for variation.
my baby sleeping enough?
attention to your boy or girl's behavior, you can find out whether he
she is sleeping enough, or too little.
She's not tired ...
baby who does not sleep enough will be over-tired.
Over-tiredness is not always easy to recognize because it doesn't
show as sleepiness.
On the contrary: an over-tired baby or toddler may
be very active, bouncing
up and down till long past bedtime ...
However, being over-tired makes it much more
settle for a restful nap or night.
And that makes it a very common
parents with a young child who does not fall asleep before say 10pm at
often wrongly think that
she is not tired. In most cases though, the reason is
Shifting to an earlier bedtime and/or overall balancing the daytime sleep schedule (naps) - sometimes drastically - is the solution:
you will almost certainly see better settling into longer stretches.
How is your baby?
she happy, alert and nicely active most of the time?
- Is she healthy and
does she feed well?
- Does she wake up refreshed after a nap or in
- Does she settle for naps/nights and wake up at
regular times, without you waking her up?
When you answer yes
to these questions, your baby is quite probably sleeping enough. Keep
coming back to these questions if you are in doubt in the future.
Of course it is
normal for your little one to be fussy and cranky from time to time,
but if it
is most of the time, then she may not be rested enough.
If she often crashes
while playing or at moments where she wouldn't normally sleep,
that may also indicate too little sleep.
If she's paler than usual and easily falls ill, that may also be an
If needed, help your
baby sleep more. The best way is to start at the basics:
install a bedtime
routine and a regular daily
schedule that fits her age and is flexible enough for her
No Tears Naps (aka "Nap in a Snap"), my step-to-step nap
gives detailed instructions to help understand your little one's needs
and how to pour those into a good-fit daily routine for optimal naps,
which in turn result in optimal nights.
do you think?
Does she get much less sleep than you expect?
Do you feel she should get more at this age?
Most parents think their babies do not get as much as they should,
although that is not necessarily the case. We would just love to get
longer naps and nights, but unfortunately, a lot of babies just cannot
- and do
not need to - sleep as much as we would like.
How much sleep is enough, theoretically?
A very easy way to check whether your little one is sleeping enough:
down for a couple of days how much she sleeps during the day and at
night. Then compare to the numbers below. Too easy,
unfortunately: the numbers only show how an average, based on reserach studies.
Accurate as averages, they're not super reliable for how much is enough
for your baby.
So use the numbers as a soft guideline, and focus on assessing
your baby's behavior and feelings, as discussed.
About the numbers
The numbers shown, whether on this site or elsewhere, are always average sleep hours.
They are not based on what would be best for any child, but on how a
group of babies sleep, on average. The numbers are also regional and
Please look at the numbers that way and remember that they are not absolute.
of 17 hours a day, means that there are also newborns who
hours a day and others who do no more than 11 hours.
I can testify: at 1 month my son slept a total of 12 hours during the
'night', zero during the day...
If you worry about your little one sleeping too
much or too little, never hesitate to consult your doctor.
On average, a newborn sleeps
17 hours per day. They wake up about
every four hours. This is the same during the day and at night.
From 1 to 3
months old, an average infant will do about 7,5 hours
during the day
and 7,5 hours during the night in total but not without waking in
Between 3 and
6 months old,
daytime sleep decreases to about 6 hours (2 or 3 naps). Nights become a
bit longer with 9 hours on average, and fewer awakenings than before.
months old and 1 year, 2 naps on average give 4 hours of
daytime rest. Nighttime is 10 hours on average of which on
average 6 hours non-stop.
Between 1 and
4 years old, total average decreases to about 12
hours a day. Between the age of 3 and 6, daytime naps will disappear
(naps are very regional and culture dependent and often related to
You may also find the graph below interesting. It was published by the National Sleep Foundation in gives an interesting overview.
Comparing with other babies
A third option
to answer the How much
sleep is enough? question we all use at some point is comparing with other babies.
Interesting as this may be, it is mostly unreliable, because
all babies are so different to begin with.
it can be quite frustrating to hear your friends report about
double the hours you get ... If that happens, please don't pay too
much attention - chances are those reported numbers are exaggerated, and in any case sleep needs are individual. Simply go through the checks
above and you may find you are doing absolutely fine and in fact have
the best suited arrangement for your little boy or girl.
However, if there is room for improvement, start with the basics
discussed in the sleeping
through the night pages.
Sleep Duration From Infancy
to Adolescence: Reference Values and
General Trends Ivo Iglowstein, Oskar G. Jenni, Luciano Molinari
and Remo H. Largo Pediatrics,
2003;111;302-307 doi: 10.1542/peds.111.2.302.