Nap Time: How to Know How Much Sleep Your Baby Needs
With all the changes to a family’s schedule when a baby arrives, when and how long a baby should sleep can be just as confusing as everything else. So how do you know how long is too long for your baby to be awake or asleep?
Sleep time and Newborns
Newborns have shorter sleep and awake patterns than older babies because their stomachs simply cannot hold enough food to keep them happy for much longer than that. Newborns will sleep up to 16 hours (on average 11 to 18 hours within a 24-hour period), usually in naps anywhere between 15 minutes and four to six hours at a time. Most babies less than 8 weeks old can only stay awake between 45 minutes to 75 minutes; this is the maximum amount of time your baby should be awake at a time.
It is recommended that parents don’t try to establish a napping schedule within the first two months.
Naptime for 4- to 7-Month-Olds
Babies of this age will sleep, on average, 14 hours a day (usually between 9 and 18 hours a day). Daytime naps last between 3 and 4 hours, although some babies will only sleep for 20 minutes.
It is a common misconception that overtired babies sleep better. In actual fact, they don’t. Overtired babies are usually more difficult to settle and the quality of sleep they get at night may not actually be better.
Four- to seven-month olds will be able to stay awake about 2 hours in between naps.
Naptime for 8- to 12-Month-Olds
By this age, most babies are sleeping between 13 and 14 hours a day, and nap only once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The length of the average nap varies from child to child, with some only sleeping for 20 minutes. Others will sleep for couple of hours.
Naptime at this age can be tricky as baby learns more things about her world and wants to spend more time with you. But nap time is crucial because it allows her to be able to do all the things she wants to do, as well as keeping her from becoming overtired, which can actually make going to sleep at night more of a challenge.
By 18 months, most babies are down to one nap, usually the afternoon, and this sleep pattern will carry on until they are three or four.
It sometimes takes some trial and error to figure out your individual child’s signs and the amount of time before they start getting sleepy – fussiness, rubbing of the eyes. It is important to learn these signs as early as possible and put her down as early as possible. “You’ll know you’ve figured out how long your baby should stay awake when she falls asleep really easily. If it’s a struggle to help her fall asleep (assuming something like hunger, tummy gas, etc., isn’t preventing her from falling asleep) you’re either trying too soon, or you’re trying too late.” (Troublesometots.com)
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
Sleep and Newborns. Kidshealth.org. Web. June 29, 2012.
Sleep and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old. Kidshealth.org. Web. June 29, 2012.
Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old. Kidshealth.org. Web. June 29, 2012.
Naps: the basics. Babycenter.com. Web. June 29, 2012.
Are You Keeping Baby Awake Too Long. Troublesometots.com. Web. June 29, 2012.
The Importance of Naps for Toddlers. Stannard Gromisch, Elizabeth.
Babies’ sleep problems persist into toddler years
New Sleep Safety Recommendations for Infants. Cody, Susan.