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How much sleep do babies need?

As a new parent, you might wonder if your bundle of joy is getting enough sleep. There are no two ways about it – babies need plenty of sleep. But how much, exactly?

Read on to find out how many hours your little one should be sleeping.

Sleep during the first year

The duration of sleep a baby requires is based on his age as well as other important factors. During the first year of life, the amount of sleep your baby needs is as follows.

Newborn to 3 months

A healthy baby within this age bracket should get a total of about 14-17 hours of shut-eye in a 24-hour day. Expect short spurts of 2-4 hours, with feedings, burping, diaper changing in between. While there is no well-defined sleep schedule, your little one will likely get anywhere from 8 to 12 hours of sleep at night, with the rest occurring during day naps.

4 to 6 months

If your child is in this age bracket, you can expect him to sleep for about 12-16 hours a day and around 5-6 hours in a row at night. Your baby’s sleep patterns will gradually start matching yours as she starts snoozing more at night and less during the day. By five months, your baby may start having fewer daytime naps – expect around 3-4 a day.

7 to 11 months

The total hours of sleep during this age span are almost identical to the 4-6 months age bracket, but overnight stretches may reach 10-12 hours. As a result, daytime naps may be fewer.

Babies over 12 months

Babies in the 12-18 months age range can sleep 13-15 hours over a 24-hour period. Most babies will nap twice a day until they reach the 18-month milestone. They will then often from two daytime naps to one longer nap.

Some babies may start resisting going to bed at night, preferring to stay up with you. This is especially common at around 18 months and usually goes away as they get older.

Factors that can impact the amount of sleep a baby gets

Other than age, factors that can impact the amount of sleep a baby gets include:

1. Premature birth

If you have a preemie, the amount of sleep he gets will differ from that of full-term babies. Premature babies can sleep up to 22 hours a day, depending on how early they were born. Preemies will also wake up more frequently to feed. As for sleeping for several hours in a row, it will take more time with a preemie (until they’re 10-12 months), so be patient.

2. Feeding method

Babies who are bottle-fed wake less frequently at night and sleep for longer than their breastfed counterparts. This is because it takes longer for formula to be digested. However, both groups still get the same amount of total sleep, and by 9 months, there isn’t much of a difference.

Final thoughts

All babies are different, so there will be some variation when it comes to sleeping patterns, but if your baby is relaxed and happy, they're probably getting enough rest. On the other hand, if your little one is cranky, restless, or generally fussy, they might need a bit more shut-eye. Consider tracking your baby's sleep for about a week or so if you're concerned.

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