As a new parent, that’s probably one of your biggest questions. Below are some general guidelines as to how many hours of sleep the average child requires at various ages. Of course, every child is different — some need up to two hours more or less sleep than others.
Keep in mind that most children need lots of sleep. Often, says sleep expert Jodi Mindell, author of Sleeping Through the Night, if a child has poor sleep habits or refuses to go to bed before 11 at night, his parents will think that he just doesn’t need a lot of sleep. That’s probably not true — in fact, it’s likely that such a child is actually sleep-deprived. To see whether your child falls into that camp, ask yourself these questions:
Does your child fall asleep almost every time he’s in a car?
Do you have to wake your child almost every morning?
Does your child seem cranky, irritable, or overtired during the day?
On some nights, does your child seem to crash much earlier than his usual bedtime?
If you answered “yes” to any of these, your child may be getting less sleep than he needs. To change this pattern, you’ll need to help him develop good sleep habits and set an appropriate bedtime. “Then he’ll get all the sleep he needs to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,” Mindell says.
How will my baby sleep?
By this stage, getting up every two or three hours in the night for your baby is probably a thing of the past. By about three months your baby may sleep for 15 hours over the course of 24 hours, 10 of these hours being at night. The rest will be divided between three daytime naps, which will drop to two when your baby is about six months.
You may still be getting up once or twice a night for feeds at three months, but by the time your baby is six months, she may be capable of sleeping through the night. Whether she actually does depends on her having good sleep habits and a consistent routine.
“Maxi up till 6 months was waking up every 3 – 4 hours for breastfeeding. He usually wakes up round 9.30-10 am and goes to bed 10 – 10.30 in the evening. After 6 months he was mostly on formula milk and the sleeping habits changed. Waking up and going to bed still remain the same but now he’s more awake during the day. He tends to have 2 naps. First one round midday for about 1.30 – 2 hours and the second one round 6 -7 pm for usually 1 – 1.30 h. He wakes up 2 times during the night for milk.”
Establish set bedtimes and naptimes
When your baby was a newborn, deciding when to put her down for the night was as easy as watching for her signs of sleepiness.
Now that she’s a little older, you’ll need to establish a specific bedtime, as well as consistent nap-times, to regulate her sleep patterns.
A good bedtime is usually between 7pm and 8.30pm. Any later and your baby will get overtired and find falling asleep difficult. Your baby may not appear tired late at night, and may seem energetic and lively. But that’s often a sign that it’s past her bedtime.
Set naptimes the same way you set bedtimes. Plan them for a specific time each day, or go more by feel, putting your baby down when you know she’s tired and needs to recharge her batteries. As long as she’s getting enough sleep, either approach is fine.
These are the bedtime routines i usually tick off everynight before my baby goes to sleep.
If you haven’t already done so, start a bedtime routine which includes:
- playing a quiet game
- a bath
- changing her into pyjamas
- reading a bedtime story
- singing a lullaby
- a gentle massage
- a kiss goodnight
Whatever routine works for your family is fine, as long as you do it in the same order, and at the same time, every night, including at weekends. Even when your baby is unwell, try to maintain her usual routine.