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Baby Sleeping Schedules – Sleep Patterns by Age

Last Updated on May 26, 2021

Are you concerned that your baby may not be getting the right amount of sleep? Are you struggling to get your baby off to sleep and having a hard time getting them to stay asleep?

These sleep concerns are all incredibly common among new mothers, parents, and caregivers. So it’s not exactly surprising that many parents wonder what is considered a normal sleep schedule and want to know if their babies sleep pattern falls in line with what is expected.

Afterall you want to be sure your expectations are reasonable. So in this article, we will answer some of the most common questions regarding baby sleep and explore practical solutions that are widely recommended for some of the most common sleep issues.

How Much Sleep Does a Baby Need? 

Just like adults, babies are individuals that have varying sleep patterns, which can change as they continue to grow and develop. For this reason, there is no exact answer to how long a baby should sleep or at what times. Instead, there are rough guidelines that can provide an idea to what parents and caregivers should be aiming for.

With regards to sleep duration, in 2016 The American Academy of Sleep Medicine established a set of guidelines for the amount of sleep 0-5 year olds should aim to achieve on a regular basis (1):

  • Infants 4–12 months: 12–16 hours per 24 hours
  • Children 1–2 years: 11–14 hours per 24 hours
  • Children 3–5 years: 10–13 hours per 24 hours

Baby Sleep Patterns by Age: 

0-6 Weeks Newborn Sleep Schedule

  • Wake Time: Approximately 7 AM
  • Number of Daytime Naps: Regular (4-6)
  • Time Awake Between Naps: 40-120 minutes
  • Total Hours of Sleep in 24 Hour Period: 15-16 hours
  • Bed Time: Often Late & Irregular

A newborns sleep pattern is often very long in duration, usually, they will only wake up every few hours in order to feed. As a result, for the first 6 weeks, many parents find their baby in a constant cycle of sleeping, eating and brief diaper changing. At this point in time, many parents choose to start swaddling their baby.

During this period, there is no regular sleep pattern. Instead, the priority is to ensure your baby gets as much rest and attention as possible. With your baby waking up often your own sleeping pattern will be affected, which can leave you feeling drained and tired.

You may find taking turns with your partner or what is often referred to as “doing the baby shift” relieves some of the strain.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend sleeping in the same room for at least the first 6 months, but ideally until the age of 1. For this reason, many parents find co-sleeping with a bassinet helpful as it allows you to keep your infant within reach throughout the night (2).

Some parents often find getting their baby to sleep without being held a challenge too. If this is an issue you are facing make sure to check out this guide for some practical solutions you can employ.

2 to 3 Months Baby Sleep Schedule

  • Wake Time: Approximately 7 AM
  • Number of Daytime Naps: Regular (4-6)
  • Time Awake Between Naps: 40-120 minutes
  • Total Hours of Sleep in 24 Hour Period: 15-16 hours
  • Bed Time: Often Late & Irregular

From around 2 months babies will start to establish a more recognizable sleeping pattern. This is due to the duration of REM sleep shortening so that infants reach deep sleep in a shorter amount of time.

This means babies will begin sleeping for longer durations without waking up, so you may begin to get an idea of when your baby will likely start to get tired. You may also find your baby starts to sleep for longer periods during the night.

During this period, it’s still very common for babies to have several naps during the day, but over time you may start to see some big changes.

4 to 6 Months Baby Sleep Schedule

  • Wake Time: Approximately 7 AM
  • Number of Daytime Naps: 3 to 5
  • Time Awake Between Naps: 120 minutes
  • Total Hours of Sleep in 24 Hour Period: 15-16 hours
  • Bed Time: Between 8 & 9 PM

At the 4 to 5 month mark, it’s quite normal for parents to report their baby sleeping for up to 6 hours without waking up in between. Due to this indicating they are starting to develop a regular sleep-wake cycle, most experts recommend starting the process of sleep training between the 4 and 6 months period.

By now, you should have also seen their number of daytime naps reduce, and it’s common for parents to struggle to get their babies to take regular naps.

The 4 months sleep regression is also a very common phenomenon. Regression refers to a period when babies wake up for no apparent reason. At this particular point, it mainly occurs due to your infant’s sleep cycle changing and developing into one that resembles one more similar to a regular adult cycle.

The biggest hurdle during this period is adjusting to the many changes in your babies sleeping patterns. It may also be the time to think about adjusting their crib height as it’s likely they are now beginning to move more and potentially climb in the near future.

6 to 10 Months Baby Sleep Schedule

  • Wake Time: Approximately 7 AM
  • Number of Daytime Naps: 2 to 4
  • Time Awake Between Naps: 120 minutes
  • Total Hours of Sleep in 24 Hour Period: 15-16 hours
  • Bed Time: Between 8 & 9 PM

From the 6 month mark, you may continue to see big changes in your babies sleep pattern, so you may need to make further adjustments to their sleep schedule. However, by this period you should have a relatively good idea of when your little one will start to get sleepy.

Although all babies develop at very different speeds, the majority of parents find that their babies do sleep for many hours without waking up. Typically 5-6 hour stretches of uninterrupted sleep are not uncommon at this age, yet don’t be concerned if your infant hasn’t yet reached this goal post.

You may have already started initiating a regular and consistent bedtime routine, but if not now may be the right time. According to the National Sleep Foundation by 9 months old, as many as 80% of babies have no issues sleeping through the night. Surprisingly, they may wake up several times during the night, but will usually fall back to sleep quite soon afterward and before you ever notice.

10 to 12 Months Baby Sleep Schedule

  • Wake Time: Approximately 7 AM
  • Number of Daytime Naps: 1 to 2
  • Time Awake Between Naps: 3 hours
  • Total Hours of Sleep in 24 Hour Period: 15-16 hours
  • Bed Time: Between 8 & 9 PM

By the time babies have reached the 12 month mark, napping during the day is less frequent. But it still has many benefits and your baby may continue to nap a few times during daytime hours.

By employing effective sleep training from around 4 months, approaching the 12 month milestone the majority of babies have started to sleep through the night. At this point, your biggest challenge will most likely be the result of sleep regressions.

At this age, common reasons for sleep regressions include separation anxiety and key developmental milestones.

Why Do Baby Sleep Cycles Differ to Adults?  

In comparison to adults, young infants spend much more time sleeping and also have very different patterns of sleep too. On average, infants sleep between 16 and 18 hours in a 24 hours period.

The sleep cycle of adults is divided into key stages. This includes rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM), with NREM divided into for stages. In babies, the sleep cycle is divided almost equally between REM and NREM. Baby sleep cycles are also shorter than adults, typically having a 45-minute duration in the first 12 months.

The major reasons for these key differences are thought to be related to infant brain development, learning, and processing the day’s events (3).

As babies continue to develop and grow their sleep cycle and schedule begins to gradually resemble that of an adult.

When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night? 

As mentioned above, from around 6 months you may notice your baby sleeping through the night. This is largely due to babies of this age getting used to a regular sleep-wake cycle, typically in response to sleep training.

However, this may not be the case for all babies, since they all develop at slightly different speeds. Equally, you may not have started the sleep training process yet, which is recommended to begin anywhere between the 4 to 6 month mark.

You can help increase the likelihood of your baby sleeping through the night by adopting a regular and consistent bedtime routine and feeding schedule. This also means assigning a regular time to wake up in the morning and a target time to go to bed in the evening.

Importantly, it’s worth realizing that most babies that are perceived to be sleeping through the night, do in reality wake up several times through the night. However, they do generally fall back to sleep quite quickly so it often goes unnoticed.

Baby Sleeping Schedules

References: 

  1. https://aasm.org/recharge-with-sleep-pediatric-sleep-recommendations-promoting-optimal-health/
  2. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Safe-Sleep-Recommendations-to-Protect-Against-SIDS.aspx
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3034475/

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