All About Your Baby's Sleep Habits

Here’s a very general guide to an infant’s daily sleep schedule in the first six months:

Daytime: 8 to 9 hours
Nighttime: 8 to 9 hours
Total: 16 to 18 hours

Daytime: 6 to 7 hours
Nighttime: 8 hours
Total: 14 to 15 hours

Daytime: 4 hours
Nighttime: 9 to 10 hours
Total: 13 to 14 hours

Don’t worry if your baby sleeps more or less than these guidelines reflect. If an infant is growing and thriving, he’s getting the right amount of sleep. “Many first-time parents worry that their newborn sleeps ‘all the time,’” says Joseph Gigante, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. “As you can see by these numbers, they are correct, but this is normal behavior.”

Nap schedules also differ with every baby. One baby may sleep a lot at night and stay awake during the day, while another may do just the opposite. As they get older, the need for daytime slumber changes: A 6-month-old may take two naps totaling three to four hours, while a 12-month-old may only need one nap of two hours. “I don’t believe you can impose a sleep or nap schedule in the first few weeks,” says Michael Katz, MD, senior vice president at the March of Dimes Foundation and professor emeritus of pediatrics at Columbia University in New York City. “A schedule will develop as you watch for your baby’s cues.”

Nap and nighttime sleep cues include signs of fatigue such as decreased activity, eye rubbing, looking tired, yawning or fussing. When you notice any of these, put your baby in his crib or bassinet. At first, you may be too sleepy yourself to fully notice your baby’s snooze signals. By the six-week mark, however, you will recognize your baby’s prompts and a sleep-wake pattern will fall into place. By then, you’ll be more rested and feel more confident—we promise!