How much should my baby sleep?


Your mum says 12 hours but your neighbour claims ten hours are just fine. But is there a way of knowing if your baby is sleeping enough?

It is vital that your baby gets enough sleep. This is the time when they are growing, building their immune system, becoming healthier and stronger. For many mothers, knowing whether their baby is sleeping enough is a huge concern. Of course, not all babies are the same. Some babies sleep for hours on end, uninterrupted, while others wake up frequently or don’t sleep for long stretches at all.

Fortunately, the clever people at Baby Centre have worked it out all for you. If your baby is a newborn – so anything from a few days old to one month old – they should be sleeping for about eight-and-a-half hours every night. During the day, they will probably have three naps, which makes for a total of about eight hours.

As your baby grows older, you will see the day-time naps becoming shorter and the night-time sleeping increasing. By the time your baby is one month old, he or she will be sleeping nine hours a night and by three months, it will be round 10 or 11 hours every night, with the naps decreasing to maybe one hour three times a day.

By the time your baby is nine months old, there should be only two naps a day (ideally in the morning or early afternoon) and at night-time, they should be sleeping 11 hours. This really is a very general guideline and don’t worry if your baby sleeps a bit longer during the day.

It is normal for your baby’s sleeping patterns to be a bit jumbled in the first few months of his or her life. Especially a newborn can’t sleep for hours on end, they need to eat too remember. With a very tiny tummy that fills up quickly, chances are that it will need to drink at least every two hours or so.

This does mean that you will have to get up frequently during the night, especially during the first few weeks and months. Many experts advise getting your child into a sleeping pattern and if you want to do this, wait at least until your baby is about three months old.

When will my baby sleep through the night?

Ah, the magic question! So many parents hear the wondrous tales of other babies who started sleeping through the night at the age of six weeks. While this undoubtedly does happen, you need to know that it is far from the norm.

Most babies will wake up at least once or twice a night when they are about one year old. Often, you will be able to get them back to sleep again without a feed, by soothing them with singing, rocking or a dummy and provided there was a big feed before going to bed – you shouldn’t have to feed again during the night.

There are many reasons why babies wake up during the night – other than hunger. Some babies may simply want reassurance and to know that you are nearby. When babies start teething that can also bring about a change of routine. A baby with colic or reflux will definitely have trouble falling – and staying asleep.

Many mothers have found that putting their baby down to sleep on an elevated platform, by lifting the mattress a bit or putting them down on a special pillow, can help them fall asleep faster. If your baby is a fussy sleeper, you may try rocking them to sleep or even going for a drive in the car to get them to fall asleep.

Establish a bedtime routine early on to help both of you get used to the idea of night-time sleeping. Reading a story, singing a lullaby or having a bath and a cuddle are good ways of showing your baby that the day is over and night-time is beginning. Try not to overstimulate your baby, dim the lights and speak to her in a low, soothing voice. This helps to settle your little one and gets them ready for bed.

Babies like routine as it structures their world and gives them security. Routine is reassuring for you too as your day follows a set timeline, for example, playtime, dinner, bath and bed. Getting your baby used to good sleeping patterns is not only good for them – but for you too!