How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?

Contrary to the popular expression, “I slept like a baby,” many parents of infants can attest that their babies’ sleep schedules aren’t a dream. Frequent feedings, teething, discomfort, and illness can all disrupt a baby’s sleep.

Sleep is critical to a young child’s development and health. Are you concerned whether your child is getting enough sleep? How much sleep do babies need?

Recommended Number of Hours of Sleep for Babies

Sufficient sleep is crucial for developing infants, but their sleep needs and patterns are different from older children and adults. Babies require a lot of hours of sleep, but they do not need to be in a long consecutive stretch.

Newborns will usually sleep for just one to three hours at a stretch, waking up to eat between sleeping rounds. They typically won’t sleep for a long stretch through the night until they are a few months old.

Infants and young children also require naps during the day to supplement their nighttime sleep hours. As they grow, the number of hours of sleep they require for both nighttime and daytime decreases.

According to the CDC, the number of total hours of sleep ranges from 14-17 hours for a newborn to 12-16 hours for an infant up to a year old.

When counting the hours of sleep a baby gets each day, include the total amount of nighttime and daytime naps to ensure they’re getting the proper amount. The following is the recommended amount of total sleep by age for infants and babies.

Newborns (0-4 weeks)

Newborns need a lot of sleep but do not have an established sleep pattern. They usually sleep in short 1-3 hour shifts throughout the day. Because newborns need to eat every 2-4 hours, they won’t sleep for a long stretch at a time.

Depending on your baby’s weight and health, your doctor may even advise you to wake the baby up to eat if they sleep for more than four hours.

Total daily sleep: 16 hours

Nighttime sleep: 8-9 hours, waking up for feedings every 2-4 hours

Daytime sleep: 8 hours, in frequent naps between feedings

1 – 2 Months

Once a baby is a few weeks old, you can begin to gauge a sleeping and eating pattern. They should begin sleeping more at night and may even skip a feeding to sleep for 5-6 hours at a stretch during the night.

They will still require frequent naps but it may now be able to schedule them into three or four shorter naps a day.

Total daily sleep: 15-16 hours

Nighttime sleep: 8-9 hours, waking up every 2-4 hours for feedings

Daytime sleep: 7 hours, over three or four naps

3 – 6 Months

As your baby grows, their sleeping patterns should become more scheduled and they should start sleeping in longer stretches in the night. Their daytime naps may also be consolidated into two longer naps, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.

Total daily sleep: 15 hours

Nighttime sleep: 9-10 hours, may wake up every 3-4 hours for feedings

Daytime sleep: 4-5 hours, divided into two naps

6 – 9 Months

Your baby is growing and may even begin to sleep through the night! Not all babies do, so don’t be concerned if yours is still waking up for feedings. Babies should be on a sleep schedule at this age with set nap times and nightly bedtimes.

Total daily sleep: 14 hours

Nighttime sleep: 10 hours

Daytime sleep: 4 hours, divided into two naps

9 – 12 Months

At this age, babies can sleep for longer stretches and through the night. Your baby may have some sleeping setbacks if they are teething or growing through a new development, but they should settle back into their sleep schedule.

Total daily sleep: 14 hours

Nighttime sleep: 11 hours

Daytime sleep: 3 hours, in two daily naps

12 – 18 Months

Babies are turning from babies to toddlers and may be walking and talking, but sleep is still critical to their growth. At this stage, your baby may drop a nap and start taking one longer nap each day instead of two.

Babies at this age should now be sleeping through the night and getting a long solid stretch of nighttime sleep.

Total daily sleep: 14 hours

Nighttime sleep: 11 hours

Daytime sleep: 3 hours, in 1 or 2 naps

Factors that May Affect Your Baby’s Sleep

Each baby is unique and has different needs. A sleep schedule that works for one infant may not work for another. While getting sufficient sleep is crucial to a baby’s development and growth, there are many factors that can affect a baby’s sleep.

  • Premature Babies – Babies who are born early are usually smaller than average and may require more frequent feedings and more sleep. Preemies may sleep up to 22 hours a day, waking up frequently for feedings, and it may take them longer to start sleeping through the night.
  • Formula vs. Breastfed Babies – Formula-fed infants may sleep for longer stretches than breastfed ones. The total amount of hours of sleep they get should be the same, but breastfed infants may wake up more frequently during the night for feedings.
  • Illness – Babies are susceptible to many viruses and illnesses. From ear infections to colds, your baby may be in pain and have a hard time settling in to go to sleep. Speak to your doctor if your baby suddenly has difficulty sleeping or is waking up more often than usual. They may be sick and require medication.
  • Teething, Rashes, and Discomfort – Unfortunately, there are many reasons why a baby may be in pain and have trouble sleeping. Teething, diaper rashes, gas, and colic are common reasons why their sleep may be disrupted.

In Summary

Sufficient sleep is very important for infants, babies – and their parents! Make sure your baby is getting the recommended number of hours of sleep throughout the day, both in nighttime sleep and daytime naps. If your baby is waking up more frequently or is having trouble going to sleep, speak to your pediatrician to make sure they aren’t sick or in pain.

Brett Gordon

The brains behind The Toy Report. Having clocked tons of time in toys research and online resource development, today, Brett is dedicated to making The Toy Report a trusted space in the world of toy reviews and recommendations.