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How much sleep does my child really need?

So, do you really know how much sleep your baby really needs? Let’s explore this in this week’s blog.

New-borns, ohh don’t they smell just delicious! When your baby arrives you will see they sleep most of the day away, I remember the midwife coming to visit me and asking it was all going and my response was “this parenthood lark is a breeze, he sleeps all day…”!! Little did I know soon things were about to change and that was sleep! I had no idea how much sleep my baby needed or how fast those needs change. In the early months sleep needs change about every 2-4 weeks so just when you feel you have figured something out and sorted it, bang, and its changes again…!

Up to 12 – 16 weeks sleep will be very much all over the place and disorganised. Every day will be different and exciting, keep your diary flexible and no one will place any expectations on you least of all yourself. You don’t want to burn out before you have even started!

Your new-born baby will require 14-17 hours’ sleep in a 24 hour period. It is not uncommon to wake only for feeding and go right back to sleep shortly after a feed or most commonly during a feed. However, this all depends entirely on your child’s genetic make-up and temperament.

Did you know newborn sleep is 50% genetic and 50% environmental? As we all know and will never stop saying to each and every baby is different! You may find your baby will have awake times anything from 40 minutes to 1 hour and then sleep for a period of 4 hours straight. This is a good time for you to catch up on some rest yourself, eat and take a shower…or so we are told! Actually doing this is harder in real life right..?!

Many parents I have spoken with feel it is easier to follow awake windows more than counting how many hours they have actually slept or follow a routine and this works super well for them. Here I have made a simple easy to view awake window and sleep need chart below but remember this is just a guide, some babies need more and some need less…


0-12 weeks (new-born)

40-60 minutes

3-6 weeks

1 hour 25 – 1 hour 30

6-9 weeks

1 hour 30

9-12 weeks

1 hour 30 – 1 hour 45

4-6 months

2 hours

7 months

2 hour 15

8 months

2 hour 30

8-9 months

2 hour 30-3 hours

These wake windows actually can extend a little as the day progress for some children so there is not right or wrong "rule" to follow.

Often we find when babies drop to 2 naps a day the wake window at the end of the day extends to 3.5-4 hours.


0-12 weeks

14-17 hours in 24 hour period

4-11 months

12-15 hours in 24 hour period

1-2 years

11-14 hours in 24 hour period

3-5 years

10-13 hours in a 24 hour period

As you can see the awake windows in the early weeks are not very long and really don’t leave much time owing to relax once you have fed, changed, fed again and no doubt changed another nappy! Take it one day at a time and accept all the help that comes your way!

Happy peaceful nights to you,


Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant



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