Sleep is the brain’s primary activity in early development. It promotes mental and physical growth. The sleep and wake cycles of babies are often irregular because it can take time to develop circadian rhythms. By six months of age, most infants fall into a more typical sleep pattern, which means being active during the day and asleep at night.
Understanding how long your baby or child should be sleeping can help you identify if there are any problems. It’s important to know that every baby is different, so there can be some variation in the number of hours each baby sleeps.
Newborns (1-2 months): Newborns need a lot of sleep. They only wake to eat, have their diapers changed, and feel the presence of their parents. Most newborns sleep up to 18 hours a day with one to three hours awake at a time throughout the day or night.
Infants (3-11 months): Infants begin to sleep through the night when they don’t need as many feedings. By four months, many don’t need any feedings at night, but some take longer to get to that point. Infants can sleep up to 12 hours at night, and then will sleep up to three hours 1-4 times during the day.
Toddlers (1-3 years): Toddlers are active but they still take a nap during the day, which can last up to three hours. Toddlers can sleep between 12 and 14 hours in a 24-hour period.
Preschoolers (3-5 years): Naptimes are a thing of the past by age five, but they might end sooner for some children. At this age, preschoolers need about 11-13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
School-aged children (5-12 years): School-aged children need between 10 and 11 hours of sleep. Many children will sleep more on the weekends, as they lose some of those hours with extracurricular activities, homework, and early morning wakeups to get to school on time.
Sleeping too little or too much can be a sign of a medical problem. If your baby or child is not sleeping the recommended amount of hours, speak to your pediatrician.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, August 2019
- Naptimes can vary, but children normally sleep longer at night if they don’t get enough sleep during the day.
- At 5 years old, most children are no longer taking naps because they get all of the sleep they need at night.
- Sleeping too little or too much can be a sign of a medical problem.