Although it is probably not the most commonly asked question, obviously some parents do raise a concern if their baby seems to sleep a lot, in their opinion.

Generally, a typically developing healthy baby will achieve, when able, their own personal sleep quota, and this will have a range. It is true that babies DO need a lot of sleep, it is just a lot of them, don’t achieve this in a consolidated fashion, and this is entirely typical as well.

Vary hugely

Each child is entirely unique and individual and therefore their sleep needs will vary hugely. This is proven in numerous studies, especially within the first year of life.  Within this variability, there are typically recommended amounts as agreed in the most recent research detailed below.

Age

Number of Naps Total Hours of Daytime Sleep Night-time hours of Sleep Total Sleep in 24 hours

0-3 months

Every 1-2 hours Varies Varies

14-17

3-6 months

4-5 4-5 9-10

13-15

6-9 months

3 3-4 10-11

12-14

9-16 months 2 2-3 10-11

11-14

16-24 months

1 2-3 10-11 11-14
2-2.5 years 1 Up to 2 10-12

10-13

2.5-3 years 0-1 Up to 2 10-12

10-13

(Hirshkowitz, et al., 2015)

In the main, the most reliable indicator of whether your baby is getting enough sleep is their mood and behaviour – if they are not getting enough sleep then they may appear to be cranky and tired, or hyper and wired, they may sleep fitfully and restlessly too.

A concern would arise if you feel your baby is getting adequate sleep, both in terms of quality and in quantity, but they don’t appear well-rested, and in this instance, I would encourage a review with your GP to rule out any underlying medical concerns.

Sleeping too much

One typical dynamic can be a baby sleeping too much by day and then not being able to sleep as much at night as you would like or as needed, and as they can only do so much sleep in a 24 hour period. Sometimes they need assistance to help them distribute their sleep needs and begin to organise their sleep into night time and day time phases.

Your baby will not have a big concept of day versus night at the start of life. We can help initiate this by using exposure to bright and natural light by day and then by dimming the environment toward the onset of nighttime.

Press start on the day

It may also be helpful to waken baby at certain points in the day to distribute their potential longer sleep durations into nighttime: typical recommendations include a wake time no later than 7.30 am, together with a first feed and exposure to bright or natural light to press “start on the day”, potentially waking after 1.5 hours on the first morning nap, and waking from sleep to keep your feeding practise in place.

For the first 3-4 months your baby’s bedtime will be quite late and then will gradually get earlier and then they might start to wake by 5 pm to promote an earlier onset of bedtime which promotes a deeper, more rested, more consolidated sleep profile, continuing to use light and dark together with bedtime routines and sleeping cues as external indicators, that further promote both the onset and maintenance of sleep and the optimum times to be awake as well.

Lucy Wolfe is a Sleep consultant, Co-creational Parent and Relationship Mentor, Author of The Baby Sleep Solution and All About the Baby Sleep Solution, creator of “Sleep Through”, a natural bed and body sleep spray and relaxing rub, and Mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise and valuable support to families around the world. See www.sleepmatters.ie |+35387 2683584 or |lucy@sleepmatters.ie