There’s no question about it: Babies and infants need a lot of sleep! How much, exactly? Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Many factors influence how long a baby or infant sleeps, such as whether or not the child is breastfed and how much the baby is exposed to natural light. But these age-related guidelines, below, can help you figure out what’s best for your bundle of joy.
Full-term, healthy newborns (or infants up to about three months old) should spend the better part of a 24-hour day sleeping. Specifically, they should sleep a total of 14 to 17 hours per 24-hour day. Of course, these hours aren’t consecutive. During the first months of life, a baby will sleep no longer than two to four hours at a time, because of other pressing needs, such as feeding. Typically, a baby should clock eight to 12 hours of sleep at night (with intervals of awakenings for feedings) and accrue the rest by taking two to five naps during the day.
These tots still need 12 to 15 total hours of sleep per day. In this age range, most little ones start to establish sleep patterns and may sleep for longer stretches—for as many as five consecutive hours. This is known as “sleeping through the night,” and it tends to happen more often when infants are developmentally mature enough to start consolidating sleep hours. At this age, many babies start snoozing even more during the nighttime and even less during the day. Around six months, most babies experience separation anxiety, which may translate to more crying in the crib for parental attention and soothing. Luckily, this is about the same time that babies become capable of self-soothing and start to learn how to get themselves back to sleep.