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How Much Sleep Do Babies Need: Baby Bedtime Routine

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP
Learn how much sleep to expect at all ages and stages.

How much sleep does my baby need? That’s a question every parent has asked — including us.

As moms, we often compare our baby’s sleep to that of other babies. We worry our baby is sleeping more or less than they “should.” And then, we fly into a jealous rage when we hear someone brag about their child sleeping through the night at 6 weeks old. We might wonder if something is wrong with our baby if they aren’t doing the same.

So, let’s put this topic to bed by discussing how much sleep babies need, how you can help them sleep, and when a baby’s sleep pattern is cause for concern.

Key Takeaways

  • Newborn babies sleep in a “nap cycle” for about 16-17 hours a day, with daytime sleep around eight hours and nighttime sleep around eight to nine hours.
  • At 3 months of age, babies sleep 14-16 hours total, with daytime sleep decreasing to four to five hours and nighttime sleep increasing to nine or ten hours.
  • Six-month-old babies usually sleep for 14-16 hours total, with daytime naps similar to how they were at 3 months, but they are more likely to sleep a solid six or seven hours through the night.
  • Establishing a bedtime routine and recognizing signs of sleep readiness can help improve your baby’s sleep pattern and develop healthy sleep habits.

How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?

All babies are different, and as a mother, I can say with certainty that they all have their own individual sleep patterns. The information about infant sleep needs and patterns should be seen as a general guide. Sleep needs and habits vary from child to child, so don’t worry if your baby’s sleep pattern differs slightly from the ones described here.

As long as they are healthy, alert when they are awake, and generally content, they are probably getting the sleep they need (1).

So, with that in mind, here’s a breakdown of how long babies need to sleep (2).


Newborn babies have a “nap cycle” rather than a sleep cycle, sleeping somewhere between two and four hours at a time. This is because they have tiny stomachs and have to eat more frequently than older babies.

Daytime Sleep

Newborns sleep much of the day, which can be a great break for you when you need to get things done.

During the day, your newborn will sleep for about eight total hours. This may sound like a lot, but remember, this sleep will occur in short bursts.

Don’t expect your baby to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. Many newborns, however, do sleep long periods during the day due to “day/night confusion”(3). I typically recommend that parents wake a baby to feed after four hours of daytime sleep. This ensures that the baby is feeding well enough to gain weight and helps them begin to sleep longer periods at night.
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Editor's Note:

Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

Nighttime Sleep

Newborn sleep can be the same throughout the night as during the day. You’ll see about eight or nine hours of naps, broken up by the need to feed. Again, this is normal, and you shouldn’t worry about your baby waking frequently.

Other newborns may “cluster feed” every 1.5 to 2 hours during the early evening hours, followed by longer periods of sleep during the remainder of the night. This often coincides with an infant growth spurt.

One Month

By the time the 1-month mark comes around, you may begin to see a slight change in your infant’s sleep pattern (4).

Daytime Sleep

At 1 month of age, you can expect your baby to sleep for six to seven hours during the day, although this will still be in the form of three or four naps.

Nighttime Sleep

Unfortunately for the sleep-deprived parent, nighttime sleep patterns also remain much the same. You can expect your 1-month-old child to sleep for a total of eight to nine hours, which will still be broken up into three or four naps.

Three Months

Your baby’s sleep pattern may shift slightly when they reach the 3-month mark. Their total sleep requirement will still be somewhere between 14 and 16 hours, but when they get to this age, sleep changes.

Daytime Sleep

Your 3-month-old will be sleeping less during the day, and you will begin to recognize their preferred nap pattern.

The four to five hours they need will be broken up into two or three naps, usually at the same time every day. This makes it much easier to help your baby fall asleep independently. When nap time is approaching, you can prepare your child and put them down to sleep while they are groggy but still awake.

Nighttime Sleep

At this stage, your baby’s nighttime sleep will begin to increase to nine or ten hours.

While the occasional 3-month-old baby will sleep through the night, this is unusual and also depends on how many hours constitutes “through the night.” So, don’t expect to put your baby down to sleep at 10 p.m. and have them sleep through to 8 a.m. However, you might be lucky and make it from a midnight feeding until 6 a.m.

Six Months

At 6 months of age, babies sleep for roughly the same amount of time as they did at 3 months. However, your 6-month-old will need less frequent feedings and is more likely to sleep a solid six or seven hours through the night.

Between 4 and 7 months, your baby will develop an understanding of object permanence. Until this point, if they couldn’t see something, it didn’t exist. Now they understand that if someone is not within sight, they are “gone,” and this makes them anxious.

This separation anxiety is a perfectly normal stage of development. As a result, a baby’s sleep at this stage can become disrupted. This is normal. The best way to deal with it is to strike a balance between going to your baby and reassuring them you are there and teaching them to self-soothe.

Teething pain often becomes evident at this age and can disturb sleep. You may notice your infant softly crying while asleep or waking up with a more vigorous cry every one to two hours. The most common reason for this is painful gums (5). If you notice this pattern, you may want to discuss teething remedies with your baby’s doctor.
Headshot of Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

Editor's Note:

Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

Nine Months To 18 Months

In this age group, you might see a slight decrease in the duration of daytime naps and a slight increase in the nighttime block of sleep. However, your child’s total sleep requirements will remain the same at approximately a 14-hour total.

Some infants may continue to wake frequently at night with persistent separation anxiety (6). This is particularly common if the baby has not yet learned to self-soothe.

On average, older infants and young toddlers take two three-hour daytime naps and sleep 11 hours at night (7).

18 Months To 24 Months

At this stage, your child may take one or two daytime naps. Two to three hours of sleep will be plenty to recharge them until bedtime, allowing them another eleven hours to be ready for the next activity-packed day.

Is My Newborn Sleeping Too Much?

It’s normal for a newborn to wake, feed, and go back to sleep almost immediately. Your newborn may even fall asleep during a feeding.

What’s more important than the total amount of time your newborn sleeps is the amount of time they sleep in one stretch. A newborn’s stomach is tiny, so they will wake frequently to be fed. Your newborn should be waking for a feeding between eight and 12 times in a 24-hour period. In other words, they should be feeding every two to four hours.

If your newborn happens to sleep past the time you expect them to wake for a feeding, don’t worry. The occasional longer sleep is not a cause for concern (8).

What Can Make A Healthy Baby Sleep More Than Usual?

Here are some reasons a healthy baby may sleep more than usual (9):

  • A growth spurt.
  • A developmental leap.
  • Suffering from a minor illness such as a cold.

However, ensuring your baby wakes often enough to receive adequate nutrition and hydration is important, especially during the first few weeks of life.

These are some signs that your baby is not feeding enough:

  • They are lethargic and do not respond to stimulation.
  • Your baby is producing fewer than four extremely wet diapers in a 24-hour period.
  • Their diapers are wet, but the urine is dark in color or smells strong.
  • There is a reduction in stools.
  • Your baby doesn’t seem settled, even after feeding.

Newborns can become dehydrated quickly, and excessive sleepiness is a symptom of that. If you are concerned that your newborn is sleeping too much, contact a medical professional (10).

Be Careful About Dehydration

Dehydration can become serious very quickly in babies. If you suspect your baby is dehydrated, call your doctor immediately (11).

How To Help Your Baby Sleep Better

The key to helping your child sleep better is to understand the signs that your baby is tired. Contrary to popular opinion, droopy eyelids and a head that is gently nodding onto your shoulder are not always signs your baby is ready for sleep.

Here are a few signs your baby is overtired (12).

  • They are not sleeping enough during the day or night.
  • They seem crankier than usual.
  • They don’t want to go to sleep.
  • They are easily startled and upset.
  • They wake up easily after falling asleep.

Don’t take the advice of well-meaning friends and relatives who tell you to keep your baby awake during the day to ensure they sleep through the night. This doesn’t work. Not only do you spend all day with a cranky, overtired baby, but you’ll find that your baby is even less likely than usual to sleep through the night.

Instead, look for signs your baby is beginning to get sleepy, then help them fall asleep.

Signs Of Sleep Readiness

As your baby grows, you will begin to recognize their signs of sleep readiness. These are the little giveaway behaviors that signal your baby is ready to sleep (13).

Common signs of sleep readiness include the following:

  • A general reduction in activity.
  • Yawning.
  • Rubbing their eyes or face.
  • Fussiness.
  • Turning away from the person who is holding them.

Here are some tricks to help your baby sleep better (14):

  • Ensure they are warm, have a dry diaper, and that they have had enough to eat.
  • Lay them down to sleep in a calm, dark room if possible.
  • Do not run to your baby and lift them up at the slightest sound. Some babies, especially newborns, can be pretty noisy when they sleep. By picking them up at the first sound, you may be encouraging them to wake up when they might not have.
  • If your baby is fussing for no apparent reason, try rubbing their back for a few moments. This can help them fall asleep again and prevent them from developing a “feed me off to sleep” habit.

Baby Bedtime Routine

Every baby is an individual. They will have their own quirks when it comes to bedtime. There are tried and tested bedtime routines that are likely to help your child fall asleep and develop healthy sleep habits (15).

We recommend using one of these simple routines and tweaking it as necessary to suit you and your baby.

Newborn Bedtime Routine

Your newborn will sleep and eat when they need to, so there is little point in trying to establish a routine at this stage. Instead, you can avoid these behaviors that may develop into bad habits later on:

  • Rocking your baby to sleep every time they slumber.
  • Demanding complete silence whenever your baby is asleep.
  • Always having the same person put them to sleep.

The key to knowing if you are developing a bad sleep habit for your child is the inconvenience factor. If the behavior is inconvenient, such as having to rub your baby’s feet for 30 minutes before they sleep, then it’s a bad habit.

Bedtime Routine At One Month

A baby’s sleep pattern at 1 month is similar to that of a newborn, but as you approach the 6-week mark, begin to establish healthy habits. You can do this by doing the same things in order at roughly the same time to indicate it’s time to sleep.

These include the following:

  • Reducing noise and stimulation.
  • Moving into a calm, darkened room.
  • Cuddling, rocking, or softly singing until your baby shows signs of sleep readiness.

At 3 months, your baby will become more receptive to a bedroom routine.

Bedtime Routine At Three Months

By this stage, you can expect your baby to recognize the signs that it is nighttime rather than daytime. That’s not to say your baby will think, “It’s nighttime, so I should be asleep.” Instead, when you maintain a dark, quiet atmosphere, your baby will not become stimulated and fully awake during nighttime feeds.

This lays the foundation for good sleep habits as your baby grows older.

Bedtime Routine At Six To 18 Months

Once your baby is 6 months old, you can establish a clear bedtime routine that they will understand. For example:

  • Have a bath.
  • Get ready for bed.
  • Read a story.
  • Lay down.
  • Go to sleep.

The most challenging thing for parents during this stage is the conflicting advice they receive about letting a baby “cry it out” or, instead, being immediately responsive so their child is secure. One person will say crying it out is cruel and teaches your child that you don’t care. Another person will say that going to your child immediately creates a child who demands instant attention.

There is no definitive answer.

What works for one family may not work for another, so you should do what you feel is best for you.

Bedtime Routine At 24 Months

By the time you reach the two-year point, your child will understand bedtime routines and probably do their best to avoid going to sleep. It’s practically an unspoken toddler law.

Once your child is in this sleep avoidance stage, you can help by being firm about bedtime. Returning your child to their bed and not engaging with them is the best way of making the “getting up and playing when I should be sleeping” game as boring as possible. Once they realize there’s no fun in it, most kids get over this stage quite quickly.

In clinical practice, parents often say that their toddler is more compliant with one parent or caregiver at bedtime but not with another. In these situations, we recommend that both participate in the bedtime routine. In this way, the toddler does not receive confusing messages and cannot pit one parent against the other.
Headshot of Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

Editor's Note:

Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

When Will My Baby Sleep Through The Night?

Even before their baby is here, some parents begin to obsess about when they will sleep through the night. In some ways, you will be much better off if you can avoid becoming obsessed with getting a full night of sleep.

However, this is easier said than done, especially when the rest of the world seems to do nothing but ask about how much sleep you’re getting. The situation is usually compounded by a friend or relative telling you how their baby slept through the night at six weeks.

The story of the “super sleeper” is usually an equal mix of bravado, a loose definition of what a full night means, and a dodgy memory.

As a general guideline, don’t expect your newborn baby to sleep any more than two or four hours at a time. Their need to feed is too great to expect anything else.

By the time they reach 4 or 5 months of age, your baby’s stomach can hold more, so you may get the occasional six-hour sleep stretch.

It’s not until they are 6 months old that most babies begin to demonstrate anything like a “sleeping-through-the-night pattern,” as long as you count six to eight hours as “sleeping through the night.”

In addition, remember that a baby who has been unwell or has had some kind of upheaval is likely to have some sleep disruption. So don’t panic if your once-good sleeper begins to wake in the night again.

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Headshot of Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

Leah Alexander, M.D. FAAP is board certified in General Pediatrics and began practicing pediatrics at Elizabeth Pediatric Group of New Jersey in 2000. She has been an independently contracted pediatrician with Medical Doctors Associates at Pediatricare Associates of New Jersey since 2005. Outside of the field of medicine, she has an interest in culinary arts. Leah Alexander has been featured on Healthline, Verywell Fit, Romper, and other high profile publications.