How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?

In amongst the millions of things that run through a new parent’s mind each day, there are always questions surrounding sleep. Number one: How much does my child need? And number two: How do I get them to do it? So today let’s start with the “how much,” but be sure to check back on my blog regularly for the “how to” part.

To begin with, let’s talk about how long your child should be awake at one time, as this can vary greatly from that exciting day you bring them home from the hospital, right up until they reach toddlerhood at which point you decide they no longer need a nap during the day. Take a look at my chart for a good idea of what an “awake window” looks like based on your child’s age.

Age

Awake Window

0 – 3 months

45 minutes

3 – 6 months

1.5 – 2.5   hours

6 – 12   months

2.5 – 3.5   hours

12 – 18   months

4 – 6 hours

18 months –   3 years

4 – 12 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These times are approximate and every child is a little different, so while keeping this guide in mind, it is a good idea to also be aware of what your child’s tired signals look like. Some common signs of tiredness in infants and toddlers are:

  • Pulling ears
  • Arching back
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Pushing face into you
  • Yawning
  • Crankiness
  • Overactive (especially in toddlers)

The number of naps a day your child has from day one may seem endless, especially when a newborn should only be awake 45 minutes at a time and they spend at least half of that being changed and fed! But over time, patterns will emerge and the need for a nap schedule can be very beneficial for you and your child. Children crave routine and by following a schedule it will ensure that your child is getting all the sleep they need to thrive. Nap length will vary up until the 3 month mark but once your child is on a more consistent nap schedule a good length is around an hour and a half although some children may nap for longer. If your child is napping for less than an hour, you should consider working with them on lengthening them as they are likely just making it through their first sleep cycle and then are unable to put themselves back to sleep for the remainder of their nap. Take a look at how many naps a day your child should be taking based on their age:

Age

# of Naps

0 – 3 months

4-5

3 – 6 months

3

6 – 12   months

2

12 – 18 months

1-2

18 months –   3 years

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to night time sleep, while a newborn’s schedule can vary for the first few months due to their elevated feeding needs, by the age of 3 months children should be getting anywhere between 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. A good schedule to work with is a 7pm bedtime and a 7am wake up.

Overall sleep needs for a child in a 24 hour period should look something like this:

Age

Total Sleep Hours

0 – 3 months

16-18

3 – 6 months

16-17

6 – 12   months

15-16

12 – 18   months

13-16

18 months –   3 years

13-15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now we have covered the “how much” part! Please leave any questions you may have in the comments, email me at kathryn@sleepstars.ca or give me a call at 778.881.4345; I’d be happy to discuss your child’s ideal sleep schedule with you.

Sleep well,

Kathryn

March 20, 2017 - 1:53 pm

Violeta Perez - I co-sleep with my 1yr old, and he now has restless night, I regret not training him earlier. Am desperate now because we just found out am pregnant and my only worry is that our son Ethan is not sleeping in his crib. I desperately need help training him.

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