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How much sleep should my baby have?

The first few months can be a bit of a blur with your little one up at all hours. It’s good to know what’s ahead and how their sleep needs change over time.

All children are different, this guide will help give you a rough idea of how much sleep babies usually need. But remember not to worry if your baby sleeps a bit more or a bit less.

How much sleep does a newborn need?

Newborns usually sleep for upwards of 18 hours a day. They tend to only sleep for 2-3 hours at once - and usually not when we want them to! Because they have small stomachs and are just getting used to feeding, they need to eat every 2-3 hours as well.

This can be tricky, especially if you’re breastfeeding and can’t share feeding duties at night, so it is important to try and nap when possible. You will be putting your baby down many times a day, so make sure they are sleeping safely.

How much sleep do 3-4 month olds sleep?

At 3-4 months your wee one may be sleeping for around 16 hours a day. At this age many babies start sleeping longer in one go. This could see your wee one sleep for around 5 hours at night.

It’s important to remember that this is an average and all babies are different. If your wee one is sleeping a little more or a bit less than 16 hours at this age there is nothing to worry about as long as they are alert and happy when they’re awake. Some babies need more or less sleep than the average (just like some adults!)

They might also start to show signs of sleeping more at night than during the day. This might allow you to start introducing more of a pattern at bedtime from when they are 3-4 months old. You might find that they start to have a pattern with their naps during the day too.

Their stomach is still very small so they will continue to need night feeds to fill them up. It can be difficult at this stage and it may feel like forever since you had a good night's sleep. Maybe ask your partner or family member to help round the house while you rest when the baby naps.

How much do 5-6 month olds sleep?

At 5 months old some babies will be beginning to sleep through the night. But most will still be up during the night. After months of broken sleep it can be tempting to try and encourage your little one to fit into a more normal pattern, but at this age it is important to follow your baby.

They may not be quite ready to sleep all night. It could confuse their natural rhythm and stop them feeding during the night when they need to.

They will still likely be sleeping upwards of 14 hours a day across nighttime and daytime naps. It’s important to remember that this is an average and all babies are different. Babies like routine but try to let their needs lead the way when they are this age.

How much do 6-9 month olds sleep?

Your baby will still need around 14 hours of sleep at six months. But remember this is an average and all babies are different. They may be getting better at settling themselves should they wake up at night, but if they can’t there is no reason to worry. Your baby is still comforted by your presence and will still need to feed at night. A regular bedtime should help. There could be other factors waking them up, like teething or new things they are learning during the day like when they start to crawl.

How much do 9-12 month olds sleep?

You may find that your baby wakes up less for night feeds at this stage, and may begin to sleep through. They may still need 14 hours of sleep across their naps and through the night, though you may notice this slowly decrease. But remember this is an average and all babies are different.

Looking after yourself

We all hear stories about babies who sleep through and are no trouble at all. But the vast majority of wee ones are up during the night. Most parents are in the same boat. It is important to look after yourself. A lack of sleep isn’t easy for anyone.

There are things you can do to help your baby get to sleep, and you can contact your health visitor if you are worried about sleep. They can offer support and guidance to help move things forward for you and your baby.

Sleep problems during the coronavirus pandemic

You may have found that your wee one’s sleeping patterns have become more disturbed since the coronavirus pandemic started. This could be because lockdown restrictions make it harder for everyone in your family to get out and about and burn off energy. Or it could be because groups and activities you usually attend together are currently closed.

If your child has additional support needs, you may be finding it even harder if you haven’t been able to get the same level of support and respite you did before the pandemic started. If this is the case for you, you’re not alone, and there is support out there and the following organisations can all help:

Cry-sis offer help and support to parents with babies who cry excessively or have sleeping problems. They have a helpline you can call on 08451 228 669.

Sleep Scotland offer support to improve sleep habits for children and young people. Call them on 0131 258 1258 or visit their website.

Twins Trust have advice on sleep if you have twins, triplets or more.

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Sleeping Sleeping tips Baby (0-1 years)

Last updated: 23 Mar, 2021