By Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
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How much sleep do babies need? A little extra sleep can be all that stands between a contented baby and a grumpy one. Enough sleep helps with your baby’s mood, general health and development.
Baby sleeping
 

How much sleep do babies need?

Is your baby getting enough sleep at the right times? Just like grown-ups, babies all sleep for different amounts of time. As a guide:

  • an 8-9 month-old baby will sleep for about 14-15 hours every 24 hours
  • an 8-9 month-old baby will have two naps per day lasting at least one hour each
  • wakeful, grizzly babies probably need more sleep
  • wakeful, contented babies are probably getting enough sleep!

Sleep needs for 0-5 year olds
* This sleep might not be continuous as younger babies usually wake at night for feeding or resettling.

Babies 6-12 months

Day sleep is important for babies up to and beyond 12 months of age. The following relates to babies aged 6-12 months.

In the daytime

  • 85-90% of babies will have a daytime nap.
  • Naps usually last 1-2 hours. Some babies will sleep longer. Up to a quarter of all babies of this age nap for less than an hour.

At night

  • Most babies at this age go to bed between 6 pm and 10 pm.
  • Most babies take less than 30 minutes to get to sleep. About 10% take longer.
  • About 60% of babies wake at least once during the night and need an adult to settle them back to sleep. About 1 in 10 babies will do this 3-4 times a night.
  • Waking up is partly related to a child’s worry about being separated from parents. Overcoming this worry is normal and necessary for all children as a step to becoming more independent.
  • More than a third of parents report problems with their baby’s sleep at this age.
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Babies over 12 months

Some babies start to resist going to sleep at night, preferring to stay up with the family. This peaks at around 18 months and tends to improve with age. Parents report this sleep problem more than any other.

After one year of age, children tend to sleep better. Less than 5% of two-year-olds wake three or more times overnight.

Keeping a record of your baby’s sleep

Before embarking on the journey to change your baby’s sleep, you might want to keep a simple record of your baby’s sleep.

Making a chart is easy. Divide the day into hourly blocks, colour the intervals when your baby is asleep, and record when your baby wakes. Keep your chart for 5-7 days.

Once completed, the chart will tell you things like:

  • when your baby is sleeping
  • how much sleep your baby is getting
  • how many times your baby is waking during the night over the course of a week
  • when your baby is waking at night
  • how long your baby is taking to settle after waking.

Compare the information you collect to the information in this article:

  • How does your child compare to other babies the same age? All babies are different, but if your baby is getting much less sleep than others, your baby might be tired and need more opportunity for sleep.
  • How many times is your baby waking up during the night? Fewer than one in 10 babies of this age wake 3-4 times a night. If this is happening to you, it’s no wonder you’re feeling tired and want to change things. If your baby is waking only once or twice, your baby isn’t that different from the majority of babies the same age.

Keep your chart going as you try some of the suggestions in these articles. It will allow you to assess your progress and see just how much change is occurring.

If you decide you need to see a professional for help with your baby’s sleep, take your chart with you.

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  • Content supplied by Centre for Community Child Health
  • Last Updated 19-08-2010
  • Last Reviewed 19-05-2014
  • Acknowledgements This article was adapted from Centre for Community Child Health (2004). The infant sleep study: Managing sleep problems in babies: A training manual. Melbourne: Royal Children’s Hospital.
  • Centre for Community Child Health (2004). The infant sleep study: Managing sleep problems in babies: A training manual. Melbourne: Royal Children’s Hospital.