Babies sleep a lot, especially newborns, and new parents are often surprised by how much of the day their little one spends in dreamland. It’s important to remember that every baby has a unique sleep schedule that will adjust over time. The amount of sleep your baby or toddler needs is dependent on several factors but is primarily based on their age. Here are the weekly, monthly, and yearly breakdowns of the general sleep guidelines that parents should follow to ensure that their baby is getting all of the sleep they need to grow up happy and healthy.
Related: Why Does My Baby Cry So Much?
General Guidelines For How Much Sleep Your Toddler Needs
1-4 weeks old
Newborns do not have an internal biological clock or a circadian rhythm that correctly corresponds to daytime and nighttime cycles. They don’t have a truly recognizable pattern for sleep at all, as most of their day is spent asleep. Babies between one and four weeks old should be getting approximately 15 to 18 hours of sleep per day, though premature babies may require more sleep than others.
1-4 months old
By the time your child is six weeks old, they should begin to settle down a bit, and you may be able to identify some more regular patterns of sleep. At this point, your baby should be sleeping for up to four to six hours at a time, and day-night confusion should start coming to an end. During this period, your baby should be getting between 14 and 15 hours of sleep each day.
4-12 months old
Though 15 hours may still be ideal between the ages of four and twelve months, most infants get approximately 12 hours of sleep once they enter this age range. This is the point where it becomes critical for parents to begin establishing healthy sleep habits that can foster their baby’s growing social abilities. Infants of this age should have between two and three naps per day (in the midmorning, early afternoon, and late afternoon) that typically vary between one to two hours in length.
1-3 years old
Once your child is one year old and begins to approach 18 to 21 months of age, they will typically begin to drop their early morning and late afternoon naps, moving to just one nap per day. Toddlers should be getting approximately 14 hours of sleep per day at this point, but they will typically only get about 10 hours.
Are These Numbers Surprising?
The amount of time babies end up sleeping throughout their first several months can be surprising for new parents. Families must help their babies establish a quality sleep schedule over time. Promoting healthy sleeping habits is an essential part of their development, especially as their social abilities begin to expand and their sleep patterns become more adult-like.
What Are Some Healthy Sleep Habits to Follow?
Ensuring that your child is sleeping enough is essential for any parent. Children who experience sleep deprivation can encounter many irritability issues, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and even obesity. To help support families and promote babies’ health and well-being, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come out with several helpful tips to promote the development of quality sleeping habits in young infants and toddlers.
Make it a priority
Ensuring that your baby gets enough sleep to function at their particular developmental stage properly is critical, so making sure that they get a good night’s sleep should be a top priority for families. You should also remember that you are a role model for your child, so you should be setting a good example and making sleep a priority for yourself as well.
Routine is important for children, and having regular waking times, meal times, playtimes, and bedtimes can help them feel comfortable, safe, and secure. Early bedtime routines are beneficial for young children and often include a bath, brushing teeth, and a bedtime story. Having a flexible routine that you can perform anywhere is also important because it can help your child sleep even if they aren’t at home.
No TV before bed
The AAP recommends that all types of screens (from TVs to computers and phones) should not be put into a child’s bedroom, especially at bedtime. To promote a quality night’s sleep and avoid sleep disruptions, children should be kept away from electronics or screens for at least one hour before bedtime.
Be active during the day
Kids need a large variety of stimulation during the day as they play and learn. Ensuring that you have a wide selection of different activities for your baby to engage with throughout the day will help them sleep easier at night.
No drinks before bed
A bottle of water is fine, but don’t give your baby any juice, milk, or formula in their bottle when you put them to bed. This can cause baby bottle tooth decay, so remember to feed or nurse your little one before putting them down for the night.
Ensure that your child has a relaxing sleep environment for rest. Dim the lights, turn down the temperature in your home and give them a favorite stuffed toy or blanket to help keep your little one relaxed for bedtime.
Recognize sleep problems
Difficulty falling asleep, snoring, nighttime wake-ups, heavy breathing, and other problems can make it difficult for children to sleep. Keep your eye out for these patterns and experiment with ways to help your child work through them.
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