Newborns sleep a lot, typically up to 16 hours a day. Although most don’t stay asleep for more than two to four hours at a time, as they like to get fed in regular intervals. As your child grows up, the sleep patterns change.
Sleep patterns of babies
Naturally, infants under 1 are heavier sleepers than adults. They spend more of their sleep time in active sleep instead of quiet sleep. In active sleep, babies breathe shallowly and twitch their arms and legs. Their eyes are also fluttering under their eyelids. During active sleep, babies can easily be woken up.
Birth to 3 months
- Newborns are sleeping day and night on and off.
- The total sleep varies from baby to baby — it can be around 8 to 18 hours a day
- They only sleep in briefly because they have to be fed often.
- If babies sleep more than 5 hours at a time you want to wake them up to feed.
- Newborns usually sleep very lightly: in active sleep they spend half of their sleep time
3 to 6 months
- Your baby now sleeps less
- Your baby may have 3 naps of up to 2 hours each day
- Most babies will sleep in total around 14 to 16 hours a day.
6 to 12 months
- The sleep patterns of babies are more like those of adults from about 6 months old
- Babies are sleeping an average of about 13 hours a day at this age. They tend to sleep at night for the longest period, about 11 hours on average
- Your baby will begin to drop to about 2 their amount of daytime naps. Usually their naps are about 1 to 2 hours.
- Babies generally wake up less often at night because they do not have to be fed so much anymore
After 12 months
- Babies from 12 months of age tend to sleep deeper, longer and wake up less often
- Many babies now nap only once or twice during the day
- At night many babies now can sleep through 8-12 hours
After 24 months
- Toddlers ages two to four sleep 11 to 13 hours at night and many still nap in the afternoon for one to three hours
How to help your child sleep well
Implement good daytime and bedtime routines:
- Keep a regular nap schedule, even on weekends. When the day is busy and naps are missed, your child may not sleep well at night
- Try to have your child eat regular meals and snacks during the day
- Wind down exciting activities before bedtime. Try giving your toddler a bath, followed by reading a calming story.
- Avoid all screen time. The phone and other LED screens have strong blue light waves and are very stimulating. Videos and TV should be avoided for children under three in general and before bedtime in particular
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat, MD. (30 June 2020)