How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?

Though many parents are often distraught over lack of sleep, most babies actually sleep two-thirds of the day away. Like adults, children vary in their need for sleep; some need a lot, while others need very little.

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In order to avoid potential sleep problems during the first year of life, put your child down to sleep in a drowsy state rather than rocking him to full sleep. This way, your child can learn to calm himself to sleep rather than relying solely on you. You may also want to change which end of the crib your baby’s head is placed each week (which will also help to avoid positional skull flattening). You can’t make your baby fall asleep, but you can teach him how to comfort himself to sleep when he is tired. Here are a few tips to help your child get the sleep he needs:

Daytime Stimulation

Try to stimulate your baby through play during the day to better prepare him for bed by nighttime.

Bedtime Routines

Rituals performed before bedtime each night will prepare your baby for rest. These can include giving your baby a bath, reading a story (even if they’re too young to understand it), or sharing any other quiet, settling-down activity.


The gentle sway of a cradle or rocking chair helps most babies relax. The motion your baby feels when you hold him close to the body in a sling or front carrier has the same effect. So does the action of a steadily moving car.

A Night Light

Soft illumination in the room may reassure your baby and help ease the transition from day to night.

A Cozy Space

Swaddling your baby and/or placing him in a small secure space may help comfort him to sleep.

Sleep Positioning

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy full-term infants be placed on their back to sleep, as lying on their stomach has been found to be a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Sleep Requirements

Age Daytime Sleep Nighttime Sleep
Newborn 8 hrs. 8 hrs.
4 months 6 hrs. 8 hrs.
6 months 3-4 hrs. 11 hrs.
1 year 2 hrs. 11 hrs.
18 months 2 hrs. 11 hrs.
2 years 1 hrs. 11 hrs.

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