All parents want their infants to sleep well. But many don't know—but want to know—the nitty gritty details: How long will my baby nap? What time should she go to bed? How many hours of overnight sleep can I realistically expect? How does a baby's sleep schedule change over time?
Everyone knows that their new baby won't sleep a lot during the first weeks. But, the biggest new-parent misconception is that once the baby passes the first weeks, sleep gradually but, consistently improves. Many expect sleep to just get better and better until the baby is sleeping an 8-hour stretch at 4 months. Not so fast! The reality, for many—if not most—babies, is a bit of a roller coaster with happy victories alternating with frustrating regressions!
That said, below is a listing of what you might reasonably expect for your baby's sleep…along with descriptions of some of the common zigs and zags many babies experience during the first year. (Please remember, each baby is unique and sleep schedules can vary widely.)
Birth - 2 Months
Total Sleep: 14 to 18 hours a day. During the first months, babies sleep in bits and pieces, waking throughout the day to feed. In the early weeks, you can expect your little one to fuss from hunger 10-12 times a day.
The day starts around 7am.
Napping: Your little sleepyhead will take lots of little naps (for up to 8 hours a day). The daytime cycle is 1-2 hours of awake time then 1-2 hours of napping. During the second month, if your baby's nap goes over 1.5-2 hours, it's not a bad idea to wake him for a feeding. Long naps mean less eating during the day, making babies hungrier at night.
Nighttime sleep starts around 10pm. Your baby will drift on and off through the night, punctuated by occasional feedings. The longest stretch of Zzz's usually goes up to 4 hours in the first month and 4-8 hours by 2-months of age.
Heads up: White noise, swaddling and motion work wonders starting from day 1 to help babies sleep better and naturally. And SNOO, the smart bassinet developed here at Happiest Baby, can optimize sleep helping babies fall asleep faster and sleep longer by providing responsive white noise + motion and swaddling all in one bed. Don't worry, SNOO doesn't keep babies asleep who need to eat…they will always wake if hungry.
2 - 4 Months
Total Sleep: 13-14 hours of snooze.
The day starts a little earlier now. Most babies this age wake around 6am.
Napping: Your baby will settle into 2-3 daily naps, totaling 4-8 hours of sleep.
Nighttime sleep shifts a bit earlier, with your baby going down around 9pm. She'll also sleep longer, still waking for a feeding or two. Longest unbroken sleep is usually around 5-8 hours (some may sleep an even longer stretch, especially using a sleep aide, like SNOO).
Heads up: Look out for the 3-month sleep regression! It can suddenly appear, with your baby starting to wake up like a newborn—every few hours—and want to play or cuddle…but refusing to sleep alone.
Also, at 2-3 months of age when swaddling is stopped, your baby may start to startle more, roll more and wake many times a night. (FYI, SNOO provides another unique benefit—safe swaddling for up to 6 months. Our patented swaddle secures to the bed to prevent rolling, so you can safely swaddle without worry.)
4 - 8 Months
Total Sleep: 12-14 hours a day. When your baby passes the 4-month mark, she's finished what I call the fourth trimester. Many of your new-parent friends may still be desperate from exhaustion. So, if your little one is a great sleeper, don't brag too much about it to the other moms!
The day starts between 6-8am, depending on your baby, of course!
Napping: 2-3 naps, totaling 3-5 hours a day.
Nighttime sleep starts around 7-9pm. Your baby may have an unbroken piece of sleep of 6-10 hours, which most anyone would call "sleeping through the night!"
Heads Up: Teething commonly starts between 4-6 months, but like everything, your baby may be earlier or later to the game. Gum pain can make your baby fussier and disrupt sleep. Loud, rumbly white noise can be very helpful to help your baby tune out distractions, both internal, like teething, and external, such as sudden noises.
8 - 12 Months
Total Sleep: 12-14 hours a day by the time she hits 8 months.
The day starts around 6-7am.
Napping: Still 2-3 a day.
Nighttime sleep starts around 7-9pm now. Your baby's longest stretch is likely a glorious 7-10 hours at night!
Heads Up: This is when infants love to crawl…and even walk. They often wake up wanting to get out and motor around the room.Until your baby is 12 months old, the only safe "lovey" is a pacifier or white noise.
12 Months (Happy Birthday!!!)
Total Sleep: 12-14 hours in a full day’s cycle.
The day starts at 6-7am.
Napping: 2 naps, totaling 2-4 hours daily.
Nighttime sleep usually starts earlier, with your baby hitting the hay between 7-9pm. Early enough for mom and dad to get some alone time! The longest sleeping stretch usually averages 7-10 hours at night.