Is Your Baby Getting Enough Sleep?

Is Your Baby Getting Enough Sleep?

You’d do anything for your baby when it comes to sleep. Pull an all-nighter when a cold strikes, navigate your way to the crib in total darkness, dress in matching pastel footed pajamas (okay, that one might be just for you).

But how can you tell if your efforts are working and your baby is actually getting enough sleep? We asked Dr. Haviva Veler, director of the Weill Cornell Pediatric Sleep Center, for advice. After all, she’s seen it all when it comes to sleep, from infant behavioral insomnia – i.e. the lack of sleep due to poor sleep habits – to teenagers unable to fall asleep without their parents in the room.

With Dr. Veler’s help, we put together this little cheat sheet for deciphering baby’s sleep.

What a well-rested baby will look like:

  • Happy
  • Active
  • Able to interact and engage in daytime activities
  • Sleeps through the night
  • Maintains regular naps
  • Meets developmental milestones

Signs of sleepiness or overtiredness:

  • Eye-rubbing
  • Heavy or red eyes
  • Ear tugging
  • Head nodding
  • Increased daytime sleepiness
  • Inability to sleep through the night
  • Crankiness
  • Yawning
  • Crying
  • Fussiness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lack of concentration

How much sleep baby needs: Take a look at our sleep recommendations to determine how many hours of sleep baby should get during the day and night.

Common sleep disruptors:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Travel
  • Developmental changes and new motor skills, like crawling or teething
  • Colds or illness
  • Acid reflux
  • Sleep apnea
  • Change of sleep environment
  • Behavioral insomnia
  • In toddlers and older kids: Nightmares, night terrors, sleep walking, sleep talking and an unwillingness to go to bed

What to do about…

  • Colds: Let your child get as much sleep as needed, even if it throws their sleep routine out of whack. Get back on track once the cold is gone.
  • Travel and time zone changes: Travel is a notorious sleep disruptor. Check out our tips for handling baby’s sleep while on the go here.
  • Snoring, gasping or choking during sleep: Consult a doctor right away. Sleep apnea occurs in 2 to 5% of infants and is a serious medical condition.
  • Behavioral insomnia: It’s a common sleep issue that occurs in 25 to 30% of children between 1 to 3 years of age and can start as early as 3 months. You can address behavioral insomnia with sleep training and a consistent bedtime schedule. Find out how to easily set up a sleep routine for baby here.

When to call the pediatrician:

In addition to snoring, signs of a possible medical issue include over-sleeping, inability to gain weight, failure to thrive or meet developmental milestones, sudden change in sleep habits (including bed wetting or night terrors in older children) and abnormal sleep positions.

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Our primary objective is to furnish readers with the most current, trustworthy, and actionable information concerning a host of parenting topics. We strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions by offering comprehensive and respected insights.

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Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.