Baby Sleep Schedule: The Complete Guide For Parents
We’ve all the heard the phrase “sleep like a baby” before. But, as a parent, you know first-hand that babies don’t always sleep so soundly. It can be hard to understand how a healthy baby sleep schedule should look.
This post will help you get a handle on your baby’s sleep schedule. We’ll start with some sleep safety tips and then explain a typical baby sleep schedule for children from birth to three years of age.
Sleep Safety Tips For Your Baby
Before we get into the specifics of baby sleep schedules, let’s go over some important safety tips.
First and foremost, always put your child down to sleep on their back. This is crucial because putting a baby to sleep on their back will greatly reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It’s the only safe baby sleep position until your child is one year old.
In fact, after the American Association of Pediatrics launched the Back To Sleep campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of putting infants to sleep on their tummies, the SIDS rate dropped dramatically. Research indicates that the number of children who succumbed to SIDS fell by 53 percent from 1992 to 2001.
It’s also important to remove any blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, and toys from your child’s crib before putting them down. Research has shown that all of these items can increase the chances of SIDS when left in the crib with your baby.
Finally, don’t let your little one fall asleep in your bed with you and your partner. Bedsharing can also increase the likelihood of SIDS. If you’d like to have your baby nearby at night, simply put their crib or bassinet next to your bed.
Baby Sleep Schedule: Birth To Six Weeks Old
The first six weeks of your child’s life can be taxing. Your baby’s sleep schedule is practically non-existent because they are so new to the world that they really have no sense of day and night. You’re probably struggling to get more than a few hours of sleep at a time.
Don’t worry; this is completely normal. Below is a typical baby sleep schedule for a newborn six weeks old or younger.
- Four or five naps of 15 minutes to two hours each
- A total of six to eight hours of sleep during the day
- Eight to 10 hours of sleep at night, interrupted by two or three feedings
Part of the reason your newborn can’t sleep for long periods of time is that they need to eat every two to three hours, on average. One of the main reasons for your baby’s crying is hunger.
Babies around one month old are developing extremely quickly and need plenty of nutrients to help them continue growing. Plus, your baby has a tiny stomach, so they can’t consume too much milk or formula in a single feeding. That’s why they need to feed so often.
To help your baby sleep longer at night, keep them active as much as possible during the day. You can read or sing to your little one, let them have tummy time, or show them colorful objects to keep their senses stimulated.
Baby Sleep Schedule: 6-12 Weeks
As your little bundle of joy continues to grow and develop, their baby sleep schedule begins to stabilize considerably. You will notice your baby staying awake for longer periods during the day and sleeping for longer both during the day and at night. Here’s what their sleep schedule may look like at this age.
- Three to four naps of 30 minutes to three hours each
- A total of six or seven hours of sleep during the day
- Eight to nine hours of sleep with two or three feedings in-between
Overall, your baby will still be sleeping 15 to 16 hours per day — that’s a lot! But, in general, you will find them sleeping and staying awake for longer stretches of time than in the first six weeks.
Baby Sleep Schedule: 3-6 Months
Around the three-month mark, your baby will begin sleeping a little less — about 14 hours per day. It’s still plenty of sleep, but they will have more awake time than in the first three months of life.
- Usually three naps per day of one to three hours each
- A total of about six hours of sleep during the day
- Roughly six to seven hours per night
Sometime in the three-to-six-month window, your baby will start sleeping in periods of six or seven hours continuously through the night. This will allow you to get some much-needed rest!
Baby Sleep Schedule: 6-9 Months
Although your baby may have started sleeping through the night by the time they reached six months old, things may be getting ready to take a turn for the worse.
Many babies experience sleep regression at some point between six and nine months. It doesn’t happen to every child, but it’s not rare. Teething, growing pains, and rapidly developing senses may all contribute to your little one’s sleep regression.
Every child is different, but here’s what your baby’s sleep schedule may look like when they are six to nine months old.
- Three naps of around two hours each
- A total of roughly six hours of sleep during the day
- About eight hours of sleep per night, with one to three interruptions
If your little one is having trouble sleeping at this age, just be patient and remember that it’s only a temporary step back. Your baby will be sleeping all the way through the night soon enough.
Baby Sleep Schedule: 9-12 Months
Around nine months of age, your child is learning to crawl, and their baby sleep schedule will become more regular than ever. It’s common for babies to transition from three naps per day down to just two at this age.
At the same time, your little one will likely start sleeping through the whole night without interruption.
- Two naps of two to three hours each
- Five to six hours of sleep during the day
- Seven to nine hours of sleep at night
- Night time sleep will often be continuous
If you haven’t started baby sleep training, it’s best to begin around nine months. This will teach your child to self-soothe and drift off to sleep on their own.
Baby Sleep Schedule: 12-18 Months
Your child’s first birthday is a huge milestone. They are starting to seem more grown-up every single day. This includes their baby sleep schedule.
You’ll notice your child developing a natural sleep cycle and falling asleep easily when it’s bedtime. Here’s what a baby sleep schedule might look like for your child between 12 and 18 months.
- Two naps of roughly two hours each
- Around four hours of sleep during the day
- Approximately eight hours of sleep per night
Your child may wake up during the night but will generally be able to fall back asleep on their own, without help from Mom and Dad.
Baby Sleep Schedule: 18-36 Months
Your baby is now a toddler! Whereas your child transitioned from three naps to two around the nine-month mark, your little one will transition from two naps down to just one sometime around a year and a half old.
- One nap of around two hours per day
- Eight to 10 hours of sleep per night
As before, your child may wake up in the middle of the night but will not always need help falling back asleep.
Baby Sleep Tips
Here are a few final tips to help your little one rest well:
- Put your baby down at the same time every night
- Make sure you’re putting your little one to sleep with a full tummy
- Develop a nighttime routine, such as a warm bath with soothing baby oils and cleansers
- Gently massage and moisturize your little one’s skin with baby-safe creams and lotions like Mustela’s
- Read or sing to your little one to put their mind at ease and help them relax
All of these tips will help your bundle of joy sleep like…well, a baby!
In the end, every child is different. If your baby is sleeping all the way through the night at three months old, consider yourself lucky. On the other hand, if your baby doesn’t start sleeping through the night until one year old, there’s really nothing to worry about (besides your own sleep).
Every child will follow their own baby sleep schedule. Just be patient and implement the tips above, and your little one will be on the right track to enjoying uninterrupted nighttime sleep before you know it.