How Much Sleep Does My Baby Need?

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In my last blog post, I wrote about how sleep deprivation can have an adverse effect on a child’s ability to learn, growth and mood. I also wrote about how sleep deprivation may result in a mum falling into postpartum depression.

So, then, how much sleep is enough?

The table below serves as a good guide for every parent, however, do keep in mind that every child is different; some may need more, some less. What’s important is that we watch for signs of tiredness and prevent our children from getting overtired or falling into sleep debt.

 Age Daytime Sleep Periods of Awake Time (between naps) Night Time Sleep Total sleep
0 – 6 Weeks 7 – 8 hrs (3 naps) 45-60 mins 8 – 9 hrs ~ 16 hrs
2 Months 5 – 6 hrs (3 naps) 60 mins 9 – 10 hrs ~ 16 hrs
3 Months 5 – 6 hrs (3 naps) 1 – 1.5 hrs 9 – 10 hrs ~ 15 hrs
6 Months 3 – 4 hrs (2 naps) 2 – 2.5 hrs 10 – 11 hrs ~ 14 hrs
9 Months 2 – 3 hrs (2 naps) 2.5 – 3 hrs 10 – 11 hrs ~ 14 hrs
12 Months 2 – 3 hrs (2 naps) 3 – 4 hrs 10 – 11 hrs ~ 13 hrs
18 Months 2 – 2.5 hrs (1 nap) 5 – 6 hrs 10 – 11 hrs ~ 13 hrs
24 Months 1 – 2 hrs (1 nap) 6 – 7 hrs 10 – 11 hrs ~ 12 hrs

How do I catch that “sleep window” so that my child isn’t overtired?

Infant tired signs:

  • Squirming or arching their back
  • Clenching fists
  • Rubbing their eyes or ears
  • Pulling their knees to their chest

The challenge for newborns and infants is that they may be using these signs to convey different messages, so take into account how long it’s been since their last feed/ nap/ soiled diaper. Another reason why it may be a good idea to set a great sleep schedule – an essential in getting enough quality sleep for your child.

Toddler tired signs:

  • Clumsiness and lack of coordination
  • Short temper
  • Tugging of hair and/or ears
  • Fussiness and irritability

Of course, identifying sleep signs in a toddler is not that all easy. Toddlers are boundary pushers, and you know that they would typically do anything to avoid going to bed… They’ll stall bedtime, up till a point where they break and collapse. Hence like newborns and infants, some detective work is required, and a good sleep schedule and routine will definitely help to prevent any negative associations with bedtime.

What is sleep debt?

This is definitely something you do not wish your child to fall into. Imagine sleep debt = carrying a backpack of bricks, a collection of fatigue that builds up over time due to the lack of sleep. As the debt builds, your body may start shutting down because it hasn’t gotten enough rest and time for the body’s essential immune repair process. That is when we fall ill, because our body forces us to rest, and catch up on that sleep!

Every child needs a certain amount of sleep each day, so keeping to a strict schedule will ensure that a child goes to bed and wakes around the same time every day; that’s just the way our body clock works.  A well-rested child without sleep debt will let sleep come naturally, often falling asleep within 10 – 15mins without protest; while a child carrying sleep debt may always feel tired and moody… and although they may almost instantly fall asleep the minute their head touches the pillow, you may also be at risk of having an overtired and cranky child just before that happens.

An overtired child can turn into a different person altogether; more on this in our next blog post. Till then, sleep well, and keep an eye out for those tired signs!

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