Your Baby and Sleep

How much sleep does your baby need? The amount of sleep a baby gets varies greatly with the individual. Age plays a factor; your baby will probably need two to three hours less sleep at the end of her first year than she did at the beginning. But your child's individual nature plays much more of a role in determining how much she will sleep. In looking at the table, keep in mind that the average takes account of individuals at both extremes. The range is so wide that your baby may sleep much more or much less than the average.

Age Average Range

0-1 months 16½ hours 10-22 hours
1-4 months 15½ hours 10-20 hours
5-8 months 14½ hours 9-20 hours
9-12 months 13½ hours 9-18 hours

Some blissful babies start out sleeping more than 20 hours a day and continue sleeping nearly that much throughout the first year. On the other hand, very active babies may, after their first few days, sleep less than 12 hours a day. Unfortunately for their exhausted parents, the sleep needs of these infants are not likely to increase as they grow older. Your baby will let you know through her sleeping patterns just how much sleep she needs. As long as she can function throughout much of the day without fatigue, general misery, and crankiness, she's getting enough sleep--no matter how little that is.

Because your baby probably sleeps somewhere around half the day, you may wonder why you feel so tired all the time. The reason is that babies don't get their sleep all at once, as most adults do. If your baby slept 13 hours in a row, you'd be the most rested new parent in the world. Unfortunately, they don't.

During the early months, your baby probably slept no more than two to four hours at a stretch. At three months, your baby was probably able to sleep six hours or more without waking. Even at six months, most infants only sleep six to eight hours at a stretch. But after half-waking at four or five A.M., your child can drift back to sleep fairly easily after some comforting or feeding.

Just because she can sleep that long, however, doesn't mean that she will. Your baby's schedule may seem entirely random to you, with no set patterns to sleeping, waking, or eating. If so, don't despair. You can take steps to make her schedule more predictable.

More on: Babies


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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