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How much sleep does a baby need?

Sleep is a skill we need to learn – you can’t just turn it on and off – and it is one of the first skills you need to teach your baby. One in three children, under the age of five, do not have this skill; and out of these children, 30 per cent are said to have serious sleep problems. When adults get tired they tend to slow down, but when a child or baby gets tired the opposite occurs, and they will speed up and become hyperactive.

An interesting study published in BBC News Online (24th April 2004), suggests that sleep problems in babies could lead to drug problems in the teenage years. This is the first study to look at the relationship between children’s sleep problems and substance abuse in later life. Researchers from the University of Michigan claim that early sleep disruption does not mean a child will have substance abuse problems as a teenager, but that it could be a ‘marker’ for later issues. This is one more reason that parents should focus on healthy sleep habits for their children.

Everyone is different in the amount of sleep they need, but the table below gives the average amount that I recommend.

Some babies will sleep a lot more, and other’s slightly less.

Age Total hours in
a 24 hour period
Total hours
at night
Total hours
during the day
Daytime sleeps
or naps
Newborn 15 to 17 hours 10 11 hours in 2 5 hour blocks 5 to 6 hours 3 to 5
4 weeks 15 to 17 hours 10 – 11 hours (broken for feeds) 5 to 6 hours 3 to 4
3 months 16.45 hours 12 hours (broken for feeds) 4.45 hours 2 sleeps and 1 nap
5 months 16.15 hours 12 hours (broken for feeds with the dreamfeed) 4.15 hours 2 sleeps and 1 nap
7 months 16 hours 12 hours 4 hours 2 sleeps
9 months 15 hours 12 hours 3 hours 2 sleeps or 1 longer sleep and 1 nap
12 months 14 hours and 30 minutes 12 hours 2 hours and 30 minutes 1 sleep or 1 longer sleep and 1 nap
18 months 14 hours and 15 minutes 12 hours 2 hours and 15 minutes 1 sleep
2 years 14 hours 12 hours 2 hours 1 sleep
3 years 13 hours 12 hours 1 hour 1 nap

Please note that a sleep is when your baby sleeps for more than one sleep cycle; a nap is when your baby only sleeps for one sleep cycle or less.

image_tizzieAnd don’t forget…
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I wish you every success.

Best regards,
Tizzie Hall
Director