Arrghh one of the most common questions parents ask. Is my child actually getting the sleep that they need? I hear you and I can totally relate to this question. As a Mum of two little boys I am always monitoring my own LO's sleep needs, sleep totals and their changing sleep requirements as they get older. Although my children sleep well I still need to make necessary shifts and adjustments in line with their age specific sleep needs, which change over time. I also have to ensure all of their foundations to sleep are maintained to support continuously good and quality sleep.
There is no exact amount of sleep that a child needs, all children are unique, some need more sleep than the average indicates and some are okay with slightly less sleep. The table below indicates the average amount of sleep your child needs and it is a good reference guide. If your child is sleeping vastly less to what the table suggests then your child may not be getting enough sleep.
When reviewing whether or not your child is getting enough sleep it is important to take into consideration how much total night sleep they are having (don’t include any periods of feeding or being awake).
Example 1: If a 6 month old baby is sleeping 12 hours at night, then they may have slightly less total daytime sleep than a baby who sleeps 11 hours at night.
Example 2: If a 6 month old baby only sleeps 10.5 hours at night then they will need more daytime sleep than a baby who sleeps 11-12 hours at night.
When reviewing whether your child is getting enough sleep always take into consideration total sleep amounts across a 24 hour period (total amounts of night and day sleep). If for example you were reviewing the total sleep of a 6 month old you would be looking at how much sleep they have across 24 hours vs. the average total amount of sleep indicated for this age (as below 14 ½ - 15 hours in total).
Average Sleep Needs (0-4 years):
*Please note while a baby is “capable” of going the stretches of sleep indicated in the table, each baby is different and has different nutritional needs, and therefore this doesn’t necessarily mean this is what your baby will be doing.
**Most babies at 6 months of age are still having 3 naps per day. A 2 nap schedule at this age may be appropriate for a baby who takes two long day sleeps i.e. 2 x 2 hour naps (however this is less common).
How long should my child be awake?
Having healthy sleep habits includes sleeping and napping at the right time. A child’s age and stage of development helps us to determine the appropriate number of naps they should be taking each day, the recommended duration of day vs. night sleep and the amount of time that they should be awake during the day (in-between sleeps), this is called an awake window. Awake windows include any period of time a baby or child is awake between waking from one sleep and going to sleep for the next, this period of time includes feedings and wind down time.
Timing is everything!
If you get your child down to sleep at the right time your child will generally go to sleep easier and will sleep better. Getting the timing right can be a little trial and error but if your child goes to sleep with minimal upset, is napping well and is happy during their awake time, it’s a good indication that you have the timing right. In saying this, some children fight sleep even with the right timing so it’s always good to look for signs of tiredness and monitor your child’s cues during their awake time. By getting the timing right you will avoid putting your little one down overtired or under tired, both of which can result in sleep issues.
Awake Length Estimates (0-18 months):
Every child is different, some will be able to stay awake for longer or shorter periods of time than other children. The below guide is based on a child who is well rested, taking adequate naps and sleeping well at night. It is important to use the below awake lengths as a guide only and compare them with your little ones sleep needs and sleep cues. If your baby isn’t taking adequate naps or is awake for long periods during the night then they may need shorter awake lengths than the below suggests.
I hope this information helps you with my goal being for you to have a well-rested and happy child. If you have a question or need greater support just reach out by sending me a message. You can also use my online booking tool to arrange a FREE 15 minute chat with me.
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