Healthy Sleep Habits for your Baby

Parents often have lots of questions about their baby’s sleep.  Is he sleeping enough? When should he be sleeping through the night? How many naps is normal?

Infants and children have different sleep requirements, but encouraging healthy sleep habits from Day 1 is important for a child’s overall health and well being.

How much sleep does my baby need?

Remember that every baby is different and unique! These numbers should be used only as a guideline.

0-2 months – 16-18 hrs a day. Most babies will sleep in 3-4 hr increments and wake to feed.

2-6 months – 14-16 hrs a day

  • Around this time, your baby’s sleep schedule will become more routine with longer periods of sleep overnight and regular naps during the day.
  • By 3 months of age, most babies can sleep for up to 5 hrs at a time.
  • By around 4 months of age, most babies have 3 naps during the day, morning, afternoon, and evening.

6-12 months – 14 hrs a day

  • Around this time, most babies can sleep through the night without a feed, up to 9-12 hrs at a time.
  • Many babies will have 2 naps during the day.

After the age of 1, most children need between 10-12 hrs of sleep each night.

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Tips for Healthy Sleep

  1. Keep things stimulating during the day to develop a proper day-night sleep cycle.
  2. Get into a daily nap and sleep routine. Some families start with a quiet cuddle, then a short story, then sleep. You can use other relaxing techniques such as bathing, singing or playing music.
  3. Develop a daily sleep schedule. Watch your baby for cues of fatigue to develop a nap and bedtime schedule based on his natural sleep pattern.
  4. For night time feeds, avoid a lot of stimulation. Keep the lights dim, use a soft voice and calm movements.
  5. Put him to bed in his crib once he is drowsy, but still awake. This will help him associate his bed with the process of falling asleep.
  6. Place your baby on his back on a firm, flat surface. Keep soft items such as pillows and stuffed animals out of the crib. Try to avoid bed sharing. Doing so will decrease the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
  7. You may use a pacifier to help comfort your baby to settle, but try to avoid using it once baby is asleep. Do not allow your baby to fall asleep with a bottle as this can increase his chances of tooth decay, choking, and ear infections.
  8. Teach your baby how to self soothe. When he wakes in the middle of the night, allow him to settle on his own for a few minutes before attending to him. Try to speak to him softly or stroke his head lightly while he is still in the crib.


Categories: Ask A Pediatrician, Sleep

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