How long do babies sleep?

They’re so beautiful when they’re sleeping. How long until they wake up?!

There’s nothing that looks so at peace as a sleeping child. Their calm can inject a wonderful serenity into your day. Babies need a lot of sleep, especially in the early months. These sleep needs are going to keep changing as they grow, though, and it can be hard to figure out how much sleep is enough or to estimate how long a baby sleeps during each development period.

How long a baby sleeps

How long a baby sleeps depends on numerous factors. These factors include the age of your child, whether it’s a nap or nighttime sleep, whether your baby is in sleep regression, and the general temperament of your baby, among other things. In short though, over the course of each day, how long a baby sleeps will be:

  • 0-2 Months: 15-17 hours
  • 2-4 Months: 14-16 hours
  • 4-6 Months: 12-15 hours
  • 6-9 Months: 11-15 hours
  • 9-12 Months: 11-14 hours

In short, approximately every 2-3 months, how much a baby sleeps will drop by about an hour as your baby continues to develop and grow.

Your baby’s changing sleep needs

As your baby grows, their sleep needs are going to change. What was normal at the beginning is going to evolve, and while every baby is different, there are some good rules of thumb you can keep in mind when thinking about how long a baby sleeps.

0-2 Months

During this period, your baby needs a ton of sleep. It’s not unusual for a baby to sleep between 15 and 17 hours a day during this period. Typically, this will cycle in a series of naps that last between 2 and 4 hours.

Daytime naps may last anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours, and in these early months, most babies don’t sleep through the night. The longest night stretches of how long a baby sleeps are usually 2 to 4 hours, interrupted by the need for feeding and other stimulation. This period can be a little rough since it doesn’t match the typical adult’s sleeping schedule, but it will change as your baby continues to grow and head into their next stage of sleep development.

2-4 Months

Once your baby hits about 8 weeks old, their sleep pattern will start to more closely resemble a normal rhythmic sleep cycle. However, how long a baby sleeps over the course of the day is still large, usually about 14 to 16 hours.

As your baby starts to sleep longer through the night, you can expect periods of night time sleep that last up to 6 hours. During the day, your baby will still be napping consistently. The naps will vary in length between 30 minutes and 3 hours, and how long a baby sleeps during each one is going to depend on each individual infant.

4-6 Months

At 4 months, many babies will experience a hiccup in their sleep routine that had been previously established. This is known as the 4 month regression, and it can result in your baby not sleeping through the night and being more irritable. This happens because this is when your baby is developing their sleep cycle of light and deep sleep. This is also a period when some recommend moving away from swaddling. All of these changes can have a big impact on your baby’s sleep, but they still need it!

How long a baby sleeps during this period drops during this stage of development. Typically, your baby will sleep anywhere from a total of 12 to 15 hours. Once they’ve overcome the milestone of the 4 month sleep regression, their nighttime sleep will also start to extend and can last anywhere from 5 to 8 hours. Naps are still an important part of sleep during this period, though. You can expect your baby to take up to 3 naps each day, lasting anywhere from 1 to 3 hours apiece.

6-9 Months

Your baby sleep needs will continue to evolve. As they grow older, the amount that they need to sleep in a day gradually declines. During the 6-9 month age, how much sleep a baby needs drops to 11 to 15 hours per day. Now that their sleep cycle and new sleep routine is established, your baby will also most likely become a much better night sleeper. Nighttime rest may last anywhere from 6 to 10 hours. 6-9 month old babies are still napping regularly as part of their sleep routine. You can expect your baby to take either 2 or 3 naps each day, and to sleep for 1 to 3 hours at a time.

Your baby may experience another sleep regression during this period that may make sleeping difficult. The length of naps may change, and your baby may not be sleeping through the night. In that case, shorter naps are better than no naps, and extra sleep during the day can make up for fitful nights. All of this will add up as how much a baby sleeps contributes to their overall rest.

10-12 Months

As your baby nears their first birthday, how much sleep a baby needs continues to shrink. Most babies will need between 11 and 14 hours each day of sleep. However, unlike in previous stages, the bulk of your baby’s sleep will come from their nighttime rest from this point forward. Most babies will be sleeping through the night during most nights, clocking in between 7 and 11 hours each night.

Nap routines will also become more regular, as babies start to transition from 2 daily naps (morning and afternoon) to just 1 nap each day in the afternoon of between 1 to 2 hours. In this way, your baby’s routine will start to mirror that of toddlers and older children.

What if your baby doesn’t match the guidelines

Every baby is different, and because of this, your baby may not fall neatly into the categories above. That’s okay! Some babies are immediately great sleepers and sleep through the night from the early months. Other babies are champion nappers and never have any trouble going down. On the other hand, some babies are fitful sleepers and have trouble napping. How long a baby sleeps is unique to each child.

Another thing to think about when considering how long a baby sleeps is that a baby’s day doesn’t necessarily start and end at midnight. When people refer to how much sleep a baby should get in a day, they are generally referring to how long a baby sleeps over a 24 hour period. If it’s easier for you to keep track of rest from morning to morning instead of trying to split the night in half, do that!

Getting to sleep

As you can see, your baby needs a lot of rest. Getting them to sleep can sometimes be a challenge, but this can be alleviated by cultivating good sleep habits. Work with your baby to establish a regular nap routine so that their body can get into a natural rhythm. Be on the lookout for signs like yawning, fussing, and rubbing eyes that may indicate that your baby is getting sleepy and needs some rest. Be understanding that sleep transition periods can be tough, but that a new routine will get established, and your baby will start to more easily get the rest that they need.

How long a baby sleeps changes over time as they develop into toddlers and young children. What doesn’t change is the importance of quality sleep and rest.