Sleep like a baby: Your expert guide to 12 months of rest

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Sleep like a baby: Your expert guide to 12 months of rest

These age-by-age sleep guidelines from baby's first weeks through baby's first birthday answer parents' top sleep questions, from "when do babies sleep 12 hours" to "how much sleep should a newborn get?"

How much should a newborn sleep: Week one

At 1 week old, your baby will sleep about 14-18 hours a day, on average.

As you've probably begun to notice, your newborn's sleep is nothing at all like yours. Newborn babies tend to sleep in short cycles, waking frequently to feed and then drifting off to sleep again. This is absolutely normal. In fact, your 1 week old baby needs to feed often in order to gain weight and grow properly. Remember, your newborn will ideally get back to his or her birthweight by the 1-week mark, so it's important to feed around the clock at this stage.

At this age, sleep isn't really divided up into "naps" during the day; instead, think of your baby's sleep in terms of patterned cycles. It's normal at this age for some cycles to be short (30-45 minutes of sleep, then a feeding, then 30 minutes of sleep, and so on).

At this point, don't worry too much about getting your baby on a sleeping schedule—your priorities in week one should be to get acquainted with your newborn, to figure out the basics of infant care and (most importantly) to enjoy your precious baby!


Week two


At 2 weeks old, your baby will sleep about 14-18 hours a day, on average.

Some time over the next two weeks, your baby will start to show signs of his or her first big growth spurt. And it. is. a. DOOZIE for many parents.

Plan to park yourself on the couch and do some Netflix binge-watching, because that baby of yours is going to be eating. A LOT. During this growth spurt, it will feel like your baby wants to feed constantly for 24-48 hours. You'll no doubt get alarmed (because this need-to-feed drive is so new and unexpected), but rest assured that it is normal.

As for sleep—sleep is essentially the same this week as it was last week. Look for 14-18 total hours of sleep. Most babies are still very sleepy at two weeks of age, and while you would no doubt like to see more active-and-alert time from your baby, don't worry; that is coming.

For now, be sure that your baby is feeding every 2-3 hours, if not more (for breastfeeding babies; formula-fed babies may be able to go slightly longer between feeds). If your baby has regained his or her birthweight, then one longer stretch of sleep is okay, but don't hesitate to wake your baby from an overly-long sleeping session in order to get the appropriate number of feedings in, especially if you are breastfeeding.

For sample newborn sleep and feeding routines (for both breastfed and formula-fed babies), click here.

Week three

At week 3, your newborn is still sleeping about 14-18 total hours each day.

Three weeks tends to be the point at which the "newness" of parenting your newborn wears off, and you run smack into the brick wall of exhaustion.

Don't worry—you are not alone in this. After all, a woman can only take so much fragmented sleep before she starts to fall apart! Don't forget to ask for help, and to lean on your partner and surrounding community for help. You and your family need your rest too.

It's still too early to see any sort of real "schedule" emerge at this point; your baby will still be sleeping in cycles. You may, however, start to see a bit more awake time, which is great! Don't forget to encourage tummy time each day; when placed on his or her belly, you may see your baby start to try and lift his or her head by week three.

Week four

In week four a newborn should get around 14-17 total hours of sleep each day.

The name of the game this week is day-night confusion.

This term is just what it sounds like—newborns who struggle with day-night confusion have their days and nights reversed, and are sleeping all day and feeding all night. While some day-night reversal is understandable in the first week or two after birth, by the four week mark, it can feel downright excruciating!

Fortunately, this problem is fixable. You can start by feeding your baby regularly during the day, and feeding in a brightly-lit room. You may even want to have your child nap during the day in a sunny room. Exposing your newborn to sunlight during the day will go far to help reset your baby's inner clock. After daytime feedings, keep your baby up for a few minutes: do a diaper change, read a book, have some tummy time, etc. Conversely, keep nighttime feedings dark and quiet, and put your baby right back to bed after you feed. Do this for a week, and you should start to see improvement.

At this stage, sleep continues to be more cyclical than scheduled. Ideally, once you sort out day-night confusion, sleep totals will be pretty evenly split between day and night.

Week five

At five weeks, your baby's sleep totals are still hovering around 14-17 hours per day, with sleep happening in cycles. However, by the 5-week mark, you may begin seeing a longer stretch of sleep emerge (hopefully at night!), especially if your baby is formula-fed all or part of the time.

At some point between about 4.5 and 6 weeks old, your newborn will have another big burst of growth, so again, be prepared to camp out in a comfy spot and feed your baby for what feels like forever. Be prepared also for an extra-sleepy baby...even if your baby was beginning to seem a bit more awake and alert before this growth spurt, he or she will probably seem extra sleepy again for a day or two.

Week six

A six week old baby should get 14-17 hours of sleep total for the day, with sleep still happening in eating-sleeping cycles, rather than in clearly-defined naps and night sleep.

The 6-week mark is full of good things—by now, your baby may be starting to smile and make more eye contact!

But there is also a challenge at this point: 6 weeks brings a peak of fussiness. Around 6 weeks, newborns are outgrowing their "sleepy" state and begin to perk up and notice the world. And while this is a good thing, it can also be overwhelming and can cause noticeable—and uncharacteristic—fussiness.

Even worse, this peak of fussiness can also overlap with the growth spurt that happens between 4 and 6 weeks, which can make the crying even worse. The good news is that this "peak of fussiness" is relatively short-lived, and things should return to normal within a few days to a week.

Sleep may actually feel like it's falling apart around the 6-week mark, due to the peak of fussiness; know that this is normal, and that once you're over this developmental hurdle, sleep will likely improve.

Week seven

You can expect a seven week-old newborn to sleep for 14-17 hours total each day, although you may start seeing a bit more nighttime sleep at this point.

It's still too early for a strict schedule, but you might find that your baby has some feedings and sleep sessions that are pretty consistent. If so, that's great! If not, don't worry. Here are some tips for creating more predictability in your baby's routine.

This is also the time when some parents start seeing a predictable long(ish) stretch of sleep emerge at night. If this is happening in your home, then hallelujah…enjoy it! If it isn't, don't fret; you're not alone! Here are some expert guidelines for helping your baby become a good sleeper.

Week eight

Sleep totals for your 8 week old baby are about 14-16 hours each day, with a bit more of that sleep happening at night than during the day.

You've made it to the two-month mark—congratulations! Keeping a tiny human safe and healthy for 2 months is no small feat.

It's so important to remember that very few babies are ready for a by-the-clock schedule at this point; however, you can establish a little consistency by using something called "fixed points." To use fixed points in your baby's day, simply establish a few key points in your daily routines and make sure they happen at about the same time each day—within the same 30 minute window. You can start by getting your baby up for the day at approximately the same time; from there, you can make sure the first morning nap is happening at the same time each day, and so on. Building in several fixed points is a gentle way to move towards consistency without jeopardizing your baby's sleep and feeding needs.

Week nine

Your baby in week nine needs about 14-16 total hours of sleep each day, with about 9 of those hours happening at night and the rest happening as naps throughout the day.

By this point, you may be starting to wonder when (or possibly if!) your baby will sleep through the night. This is a natural question; with 2 months of sleep deprivation under your belt, it's understandable that you'd want your sleep-filled nights back!

A few things to remember about this: the technical definition of "sleeping through the night" is 5 straight hours of sleep—so it's possible that your baby already IS sleeping through the night! However, most moms define sleeping through the night as 8-12 hours of sustained sleep without feedings. If that is your goal, know that you will likely have to wait a few more months (at least) until you get to that point. At 9 weeks old, your baby will still need to feed several times during a 12-hour nighttime stretch. Hang in there, though….sleeping through the night WILL happen. We promise!

Week ten

At 10 weeks old, your baby will still be sleeping about 14-16 hours total each day. Ideally, 9-10 of those hours will happen at night, with the remaining 5-6 hours divided up into naps throughout the day.

Now that your baby is a little older, we can start to talk about ways to guide your little guy or little gal towards healthy sleep habits.

Keep in mind that 10 weeks old is early to do any "sleep training"; at this stage, we focus more on gentle techniques that can lay a foundation for healthy sleep as your child grows.

One gentle technique you can try is to lay your baby down drowsy but slightly awake for one or two naps during the day or at bedtime (not both). An eat-play-sleep cycle is helpful when you're working on drowsy but awake: feed your baby, keep him or her up for a short playtime or tummy time, and then put your child down sleepy but still a little awake. At first, do this for just one or two naps—you don't want your baby to get fussy and overtired. If it goes well, you can gradually do this more and more.

Week eleven

At 11 weeks old, your baby will still be sleeping about 14-16 hours total each day—about 10 hours at night, and 4-6 hours total during the day.

By the 11-week mark, your baby is ready for a more predictable bedtime and bedtime routine. The actual timing of bedtime should be flexible, but in general, it should fall somewhere between 8 and 10 pm. Having an official bedtime is the first step in differentiating nighttime sleep and daytime sleep, which will become important as your baby grows.

Along with carving out a bedtime, you'll want to start implementing a bedtime routine. Your routine should be relatively short (most young babies get overtired if the bedtime routine is too long), and it should consist of a few relaxing, sleepy activities, like singing a lullaby and reading a simple bedtime story. You may want to skip an evening bath as part of your routine; while some babies find baths soothing, others tend to get riled up during baths, which is counterproductive at bedtime.

How much should a baby sleep: 3 months old

On average, your 3 month old baby will likely sleep 14-15 total hours per day: 10-11 hours at night, and 3-4 hours during the day.

You may also notice that your baby's sleep is starting to organize itself a little better; you may be getting one nice, long stretch of sleep at night, and you may find that your baby's daytime sleep is sorting itself into a series of semi-predictable naps. If that's happening in your home, congratulations! If it's not, don't worry—some babies take a bit longer to consolidate their sleep. Hang in there!

By the time your baby is 3 months old, you can (if you choose) continue your work on building healthy sleep habits by trying to lay your baby down drowsy but awake much of the time. You can also encourage longer stretches of sleep at night by offering plenty of daytime feedings. Just be careful not to keep your baby awake too much during the day; it may seem counterintuitive, but this can make your baby overly tired which will actually lead to less sleep at night, not more.

4 months old

A 4-month-old baby should sleep 14 to 15 hours total each day: 11 to 12 hours at night and three to four hours during the day spread out over four or five short naps.

The 4-month mark is a big milestone, however, because it marks the first (and usually the most disruptive and challenging) sleep regression of your baby's life.

At 4 months of age, your baby undergoes some major brain developments that impact her sleeping patterns. She becomes more aware of the world around her. And simply put, at 4 months, your baby starts sleeping less like a baby and more like an adult.

This usually means that a baby who may have been sleeping fairly well is suddenly waking up every 20 minutes during the day, and almost as frequently at night.

There is really no "fix" for this 4-month sleep regression; these changes to your baby's sleeping patterns are permanent.

But don't despair. You CAN reclaim your nights by simply teaching your baby how to fall asleep without the use of any sleep associations, like rocking or feeding to sleep. That process is called sleep coaching.

Four months is generally the earliest you should work on sleep coaching, and it's best to use gentle, gradual methods at this young age. By no means do you have to try sleep coaching—it's not for everyone. But if sleep is a real problem in your home, then sleep coaching can be a nice option.

Sleep coaching includes methods like putting baby to bed drowsy but not asleep, picking up your baby for a bit when she cries and then putting her back down, sitting in a chair to provide a reassuring presence, or even allowing baby limited time to cry-it-out. There is no one size fits all method for babies and families, you need to contemplate and test what works best for you. (For more details about how to implement each of these methods, see a brief overview here.)

Some babies are able to sleep eight straight hours or more at night by 4 months, but the large majority aren't; one to three night feedings are still considered very normal at this age.

Your baby may be ready for a more by-the-clock schedule at this age, but many aren't, so be flexible.

You can see a sample 4-month-old sleep and feeding schedule here.

5 months old

At 5 months old, your baby will be sleeping about 14 total hours each day: 11-12 hours at night, and 2-4 hours during the day, spread out over about 4 naps. The last nap of the day is likely more of a short catnap, which is normal at this age. Night feedings are still very normal at this age, too; many babies will still need 1-2 feedings at night.

By the time your baby is 5 months old, the worst of the 4 month sleep regression has likely passed, and you can really start to work on sleep coaching, if you haven't already.

This is usually a great window of time during which to sleep coach: your baby isn't as mobile as he or she will be in another few months and is still young enough that sleep associations haven't yet become deeply-rooted habits. But remember, only sleep coach if you want to—sleep coaching is by no means a mandatory thing! If you're happy with your child's sleeping patterns, and if they work for your family right now, then feel empowered to keep doing what you're doing.

One issue that typically crops up around the 5-month mark is teething. If your baby is suddenly fussy and seems in pain, and if he or she is waking too early from naps or waking more than usual at night, check for bumps and redness on the gums. Teething pain is usually short-lived, but if it's becoming very disruptive, talk to a health care provider about how to alleviate the discomfort.

You can see a sample 5 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

6 months old

By the time your baby is 6 months old, sleep will most likely have consolidated into 3-4 distinct naps, with each nap being about 1 hour long and any third or fourth nap being about 30 minutes long. By this age, the majority of your baby's sleep should be happening at night (11-12 hours).

If your child is still struggling with short naps at this age, it's likely you need to work on teaching your baby how to fall asleep independently, without any sleep associations like rocking or feeding. Short naps at this age usually happen when a baby wakes briefly between sleep cycles during the nap (something that is very normal and developmentally-appropriate) but then is unable to fall back to sleep without your help. If you notice your baby always wakes 20-30 minutes after falling asleep at nap time, this is likely the problem. Correcting this short nap issue can go a long way towards helping your baby naturally adopt a predictable, clock-based schedule.

As for nighttime waking, keep in mind that while some babies are sleeping through the night by 6 months, others aren't, and that's okay. Formula-fed babies are usually sleeping 8 hours or more at night by this point, but breastfed babies may continue to need 1-2 nighttime feedings.

7 months old

At the 7-month mark, you can expect your baby to sleep about 11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day, spread out over 3 naps.

These naps are likely becoming fairly predictable at this point, which means you can coordinate feedings around nap times. This is especially important because, by this stage, you have probably introduced solid food meals into your baby's diet. For tips on how to coordinate feedings and naps, you can check out this sample 7 month old sleep and feeding schedule.

By 7 months of age, most babies are able to sleep 8 hours or more at night without feedings; however, your breastfed baby may still need 1 nighttime feeding, and this is perfectly fine. If your baby is still waking multiple times at night, however, it's likely you have a sleep issue on your hands. If that nighttime waking is becoming problematic for your family, you may want to work on sleep coaching, if you haven't already.

Remember, it's very normal for your child to wake between sleep cycles at night (even we adults do this), but if your baby is used to you putting him or her to sleep, via rocking or feeding or holding, then your child won't be able to fall back to sleep without your help. That is the root cause of excessive nighttime waking, and that's why some parents find it necessary to teach their babies how to fall asleep unassisted.

8 months old

You can expect your 8 month old to sleep about 14 total hours each day: 11-12 hours at night and 3 hours during the day, spread out over 2-3 naps.

Get ready, mama—another sleep regression is on its way! You may still be feeling scarred from the 4 month regression, but don't worry: while the 8-10 month sleep regression is tough, it's not permanent. Within a few weeks, all should be back to normal.

So what is the 8-10 month regression? Well, at some point between 8 months and 10 months of age, your baby will go through a significant developmental leap—his or her mobility will just explode! But while this newfound mobility is exciting, developmental leaps like this wreak havoc on sleep. You'll likely find that your baby suddenly reverts to taking short naps and to waking more than usual at night. Separation anxiety is also a part of this sleep regression; your baby may suddenly seem super clingy and wail loudly every time you leave the room, making naps and bedtime a nightmare.

Fortunately, the worst of this regression should be over in a few weeks. While the regression is happening, do your best to offer plenty of comfort to your baby without creating any new sleep habits you'll have to undo later.

If your 8 month old takes two naps, each should be at least an hour long; if your baby still needs a third nap, it will no doubt be a short (30 minutes or so) catnap in the later afternoon. You can see a sample 8 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

9 months old

Your 9 month-old baby needs 13-14 total hours of sleep, with 11-12 hours happening at night and 2-3 hours happening during the day over 2 naps. Both of these naps should be at least an hour long.

At this point, if your baby is not yet sleeping through the night, you may be feeling like you're seriously going to lose your mind. 9 months is a long time to endure fragmented sleep, and even getting up just once to feed your baby at night can feel like an excruciating task by the 9-month mark!

Here's something to keep in mind: One night feeding is still normal for breastfed babies at 9 months old. In fact, a small percentage of breastfed babies need to feed once per night until they're about 12 months old. However, if your baby is still waking to feed at night, an attempt at night weaning around 9 months of age is usually a good idea. Why? Simple: by this age, some babies continue to wake and feed out of habit, and not necessarily because they need the nourishment. It's true that some babies will naturally night wean without any nudges from mom, but others won't. If your baby is still feeding at night, it may mean you need to offer a little night weaning help.

Signs your 9 month old may be ready to night wean include: Your baby isn't eating as much during the day. Your baby isn't really eating during night feedings and is treating them more as playtime or comfort time. Your baby has started solid foods and is getting plenty of daytime nourishment.

These signs together are a strong indication that you can work on night weaning your baby and encouraging sleeping through the night.

10 months old

At 10 months old, your baby will sleep 13-14 total hours, most likely. You can expect 10-12 hours of sleep at night, and 2-2.5 hours during the day, spread out over 2 naps.

Good news: if you haven't yet worked on sleep coaching your baby, and if short naps and nighttime waking are still a problem, this is another ideal time to work on healthy sleep habits.

By now, the 8-10 month regression is likely over (thankfully!). And while you may have felt reluctant to work on sleeping habits earlier, when your baby was young, by this point, you can trust that your baby is more than ready, developmentally, to sleep through the night (possibly with 1 feeding) and take long, restorative naps. Again, by no means do you have to sleep coach; if your child's night waking and shortened naps aren't really a problem for you, or for your baby, then no worries—keep doing what you're doing! But if sleep deprivation is taking a toll on your family's health and happiness, then sleep coaching can help resolve that issue. You can see a sample 10 month sleep and feeding schedule here.

11 months old

At 11 months old, your baby will sleep about 13-14 hours each day. You can expect 10-12 hours of sleep at night, and 2-2.5 hours during the day, spread out over 2 naps.

You may find that your baby's appetite for solid foods is increasing these days; this is normal (most likely because your child is moving around a whole lot more these days!).

You can compensate for this increase in appetite by offering several healthy snacks throughout the day. Timing up these snacks around your child's usual mealtimes can really help ensure that naps stay nice and long, and that your baby doesn't wake up hungry in the middle of the night.

Learn more by checking out this sample 11 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

1 year old

Your 12 month old will sleep about 13-14 total hours each day. You'll most likely get 10-12 hours of sleep at night, and 2-2.5 hours during the day, in 2 naps.

Welcome to toddlerhood, parents! That's right—your adorable baby is now officially a toddler. Fortunately for you, this doesn't have much of an impact on sleep at this point; although at the 12-month mark, we do tend to see a little mini-nap regression. This toddler sleep regression is nowhere near as disruptive as the 4 month sleep regression, or the 8-10 month sleep regression, but it does have an impact. The 12 month nap regression happens when your toddler suddenly seems ready to give up the afternoon nap, and transition to just one nap during the day. Many parents notice that for several weeks, their 12 month old babies refuse one of their naps altogether. However, bear in mind that 12 months is a bit too early for most babies to transition to one nap; it's usually better to wait out this regression and stick to offering two naps until your baby is about 15-18 months old. At that point, you can transition to offering just one afternoon nap. If you wait out this little "nap strike," you will probably find that in a week or so, your 12 month old goes back to taking two naps without a fuss.

Emily DeJeu is a writer with The Baby Sleep Site, a leading resource helping mamas—and their babies—get their rest.

This post was originally published in 2015; it has been updated.