How Much Sleep Do Babies Need

How Much Sleep Do Babies Really Need?

It’s a question that can keep you up at night, even rudely interrupt your favorite dream about baby’s soul-stirring Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech – what exactly is the right amount of sleep for baby?

Every child is different, so sleep needs can vary based on personality, genetics and environment, says Dr. Haviva Veler, director of the Weill Cornell Pediatric Sleep Center. It’s the same with adults. Some survive on 6 hours of sleep. Others turn into zombies without a full 9 hours and a few leisurely naps.

In general, though, children should get, “as much sleep as they need to be productive and not tired during the day,” Dr. Veler says. Keeping that in mind, we put together some sleep guidelines incorporating Dr. Veler’s suggestions and recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation. That way your little snoozer gets the best sleep possible (and is one step closer to that Nobel Peace Prize).

Sleep Needs by Age

Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours of sleep

  • Sleep times are irregular and can go anywhere from minutes to hours
  • Awake times range from 1-3 hours

Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours of sleep (9-12 hours at night: 1-4 naps lasting 30 minutes-2 hours)

  • Sleep training can begin around 4 months
  • After 6 months, infants should be able to sleep up to 12 hours at night without waking to feed
  • Naps will decrease over time

Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours of sleep, mostly at night

  • Around 18 months, naps can decrease to once a day, lasting 1-3 hours
  • Sleep issues addressed in the infant stage may pop up again, including unwillingness to sleep and waking up in the middle of the night

Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours of sleep, mostly at night

  • The move from crib to bed often occurs around 3 years
  • Naps can stop around age 5
  • Nightmares are common due to active imaginations

Premature babies (born before 37 weeks): Sleep varies

  • May appear sleepier and have fragmented sleep due to frequent feeds, acid reflux, heartburn or sleep apnea
  • To determine the sleep needs of preterm babies, subtract the number of weeks or months they were born premature from their current age. For example, a 6-month-old born 3 months early would have the same sleep needs as a 3-month-old

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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.