Like most new parents you’ll probably wonder whether your baby is sleeping enough, or sleeping too much. There are guidelines of what to expect as a “normal” amount of sleep, but of course this can be different for every baby. Even if you’ve had children before, each baby’s sleep routine is bound to be different.
How Much Sleep Does A Newborn Need?
Most newborn babies will usually sleep about 16-17 hours in a 24-hour period for around 3 hours at a time.
It’s common for newborns to have no idea about the difference between day and night! This is something babies have to learn. By about the two week old mark your baby may be more receptive to learning a more normal sleep pattern and you can help by making wakeful periods during the daytime interesting and stimulating eg playing with them, singing, having a lighter bedroom etc and then making wakeful periods at night less stimulating eg low lighting, less talking, hushed voices etc.
Remember that most babies will not sleep through the night until they’re at least 3 months old. And some babies take as long as 5 or 6 months before they get the hang of sleeping right through.
There are several reasons why babies can’t sleep through the night.
- First of all, their stomachs are very small and they’ll get hungry faster, especially if you’re breastfeeding your baby.
- Breast milk is much more easily digested than formula, and your baby will need to feed more often, especially in the beginning.
- Babies also have shorter sleep cycles than adults do and have shorter dream cycles.
In general, your newborn baby should sleep about 8 or nine hours during the day and 8 hours or so at night. Unfortunately for mum’s and dad’s these won’t be in 8-hour cycles, of course. In the beginning, those sleep times will be very short.
As your baby gets older they’ll still be sleeping 13-14 hours up until around 2 years old, but the amount of sleeping during the day will get less. By about 2yrs old, your baby should be sleeping through the night with about a 2-hour nap during the day, usually early or mid afternoon.
Again, this can be different for every child. Your toddler might need a slightly longer nap or two short naps during the day. Although you may want to try and discourage your baby from having naps too late in the afternoon, as this can make it harder to get them to sleep at bed time.