Sleep and Your Baby: 10 Common Questions Answered
For some parents, putting a baby to bed is a nightly source of anxiety—how much sleep does your child need, can she sleep with a blanket, are stuffed animals OK? Find the answer to these questions and more.
How do I know how much sleep my child needs at different ages?
Like many human behaviors, sleep needs vary widely among individuals, and babies are no exception,” says Dr. Karen Sadler, a pediatrician in the Boston area and Associate Instructor of Pediatrics and Boston University School of Medicine. “A newborn sleeps, on average, 16 hours per day, but this can range from 11 to 23 hours per day. Brand new babies have no day/night distinction, and the length of their sleep is limited by their hunger, requiring them to eat every three to four hours at max.”
By age 3 to 4 months, most babies can manage a six- to eight-hour stretch at night, especially if they have reached a weight of 13 pounds; but, as Dr. Sadler explains, this pattern may not be stable. “Weeks after nice eight-hour nights, illness, teething, or the hunger of a growth spurt can disrupt a sleep pattern.”
“At 4 to 7 months, babies can sleep a solid eight-hour night, with two daytime naps of one to three hours,” says Dr. Sadler, adding that by 8 to 12 months, a ten- to twelve-hour sleep at night with one to two naps is the norm.
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