What Is Normal Baby Sleep?
Assessing what is “normal” sleep can be really difficult for parents to determine. There are so many factors involved with what is considered normal. However, the Sleep Foundation lays out some general guidelines that parents can find helpful (Suni 2020):
- Newborns: From 0-3 months newborns sleep in 3-4 hour chunks of time throughout the day and night. It’s why parents of newborns have a difficult time determining what is and is not normal for newborn sleep — they have not yet consolidated their day/night sleep schedule. While normal, it is hard to keep up with which is why parents of newborns need all the support they can get
- 4-6 Months: Babies at this stage begin to consolidate their nighttime sleep and wake up less frequently at night. They will still take 2-3 daytime napes and need 1-2 nighttime feedings.
- 6-12 Months: Parents will notice that their baby will wake up less frequently at night for feedings and as they become more active during the day. Naps may from 2-3 to 1-2 daytime naps.
- 1-2 Years: Expect the early toddlers to need between 11-14 hours of total sleep. By this age they generally have 1 nap during the day.
- 3-5 Years: Young kids need 10-13 hours of total sleep and may still need 1 daytime nap. If your child no longer needs a daytime nap, it is still encouraged for them to have some quiet time during the day.
- 6-13 Years: Kids and preteens need 9-11 hours of sleep and have outgrown the need for daytime naps. That said, it is still recommended they get some quiet time during the day so as to not overexert themselves.
Why Is Sleep Important?
Sleep is critical to the well being of babies and children — and adults would also make the case that sleep is important for them as well. What makes it especially important for babies and children is that they are undergoing significant developmental milestones that are fostered by proper sleep. Sleep impacts three major factors in infant development (Bluebell 2019):
- Growth: Babies experience their growth spurts during their sleep cycles so frequent interruptions to normal sleep patterns will impact a baby’s growth and weight gain.
- Memory and Learning: There is a significant correlation to normal sleep patterns and positive developmental growth. A baby’s brain will double in size in the first year alone so it’s important for their learning development to be accompanied with proper sleep
- Immune System: At any age, sleep is important for one’s immune system. However, it is especially critical in babies because their immune system is not yet fully developed. Since they are less equipped to fight off illness, it’s important for their immune system to have every chance at success to develop. For this to happen, babies need to get their sleep.
Sleep Disorders In Babies
There are a few important sleep disorders to be aware of with infants.
- Colic: When a baby cries for more than 3 hours a day, for 3 days a week, for at least one week, your baby may have colic. When you baby is crying inconsolably for no obvious reason that is an indicator of colic. Talk to your doctor to find resources and support for dealing with a colicky baby.
- Sleep Apnoea: While prevalent mostly in babies born premature, being aware of sleep apnoea is infants of any age is important. When airway abnormalities prevent a sleeping baby from breaking properly they will wake up frequently. Indicators of sleep apnea in babies include
- Regular patterns of low oxygen or a slow heartbeat
- Pauses in breathing that last for more than 20 seconds
- Patterns of repeated breathing pauses
- Abnormal Reflux: Reflux is a common occurrence in babies, it happens when the baby spits up the milk/formula they just finished. Abnormal reflux is when you find that your baby spits up a significant volume of their milk/formula, coughing or hiccuping repeatedly after feedings, gulping after feedings, or being unsettled after feedings.
- Illness: When your baby has a fever, it is not uncommon for your baby to have a poor night’s sleep while sick. If it’s an isolated illness, don’t stress out. However, if it happens frequently contact your doctor to see if there are any other underlying causes.
What Parents Can Do
According to the National Childbirth Trust, around 20% of babies in the UK have difficulties sleeping (Semple 2008). Meaning that if you and your baby are struggling to get adequate sleep, you are not alone. There are things you can do to help with the problem.
The first thing you will need to do is invest in a LoveyQ sleep monitor. This Device is a wearable sleep monitor that allows parents to track the sleep patterns of their baby. Some doctors will ask parents who suspect there is a sleeping problem, to write down their baby’s sleep times.
However, parents in the middle of sleeping problems with their baby will find that this can be difficult to track when the parents themselves are also not getting enough sleep. What’s great about the LoveyQ sleep monitor is that it will track the sleep data for parents and store that data so parents can access it from their mobile device. This allows them to see long-term patterns of sleep habits.
The device is also especially useful because it tracks more than sleep habits. This monitor can also track heart rate, and temperature. These are all critical pieces of information for parents to track when diagnosing sleep problems in their child.
Suni, E. (2020, September 24). How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need? Sleep Foundation.
Bluebell. (2019, January 14). The importance of sleep in your baby’s first year. Bluebell.Io.