How long your little one sleeps for will depend on their age, as different developmental stages can impact this.
How much sleep do babies need between 0-6 months?
At this stage, babies sleep for an average of 16 hours over a 24-hour period, which is roughly divided equally between day and night time sleeping. However, this doesn’t mean they will sleep for long periods. In these early weeks, babies’ sleep will often be split into many periods of 2-4 hours, with the amount of sleep in the day and night being roughly even.
This broken sleeping pattern is often due to the slow development of the biological clock. When babies are born, they cannot distinguish between light and dark and rely on their hunger to wake them. Luckily, they will soon learn to recognise day and night within a week or two. Whilst this doesn’t mean they will sleep whenever it is dark, the new awareness will help to encourage sleep if reinforced by you, and by week 10 you should start to see daytime naps reduce and baby sleeping for longer periods.
How much sleep do babies need between 3-6 months?
By three months, around three-quarters of babies are sleeping for a large unbroken period during the night. At around 3-4 months, baby’s biological clock is developed enough to sleep through the night as well as becoming more responsive to the routines set by their parents, which is a key window of opportunity that parents should try to take advantage of. As this is a period of rapid development, you can also expect the time spent sleeping throughout a 24-hour period drop from 16 hours to roughly around 14. This means that daytime napping often decreases to roughly 4 or 5 hours a day and with good sleep routines, night-time sleeping increases to 10 hours.
How much sleep do babies need between 6-12 months?
At around six months, there is usually a significant shift in the balance of daytime and night time sleeping, with most babies only needing one daytime and one afternoon nap by nine months, both of which should be roughly an hour. Luckily for parents, this is also the age where the length of night-time sleep becomes more predictable and more time is spent sleeping during the night. As night-time sleep increases to 11-11 ½ hours, this means parents can get some essential unbroken sleep too.
How much sleep do babies need between 1-2 years old?
Roughly between 1-3 years is when it is normal for babies to drop down to one daytime nap lasting between 1 ½-2 hours, pushing their morning nap to later in the day around lunch and dropping their afternoon nap. At around three years, the length of their daytime nap usually decreases to 1 hour, which is then complemented by 11 hours sleep during the night. However, the circadian rhythm is still developing at this point and good sleep routines can be easily disrupted by a change in sleeping arrangements.
From three years, little ones should be getting a regular 11 hours sleep during the night, with daytime napping often dropped at around four years as it is around this age when their circadian rhythms will become fully established.