Total Sleep Needs of Babies & Toddlers

Total Sleep Needs of Babies & Toddlers

The Developing Brain

Sleep is important for the developing brain and body. By 3 years most children will have slept for more time than all the wakeful activities combined. Many parents worry their baby isn’t getting enough sleep. However, you need to know there is a large variation from baby to baby and toddler to toddler. Just like there is with developmental milestones.

Approximately 25% of children will experience a sleep problem of some kind.

Physiology of Sleep

The Circadian Process – an internal clock dictating periods of wakefulness and sleep based on a light-dark cycle. This is connected to the secretion of melatonin.

The Homeostatic Process – sleep pressure builds up during wakeful hours and is relieved by sleep.

Here are my TOP 5 Tips that you’re winning.

  1. Your baby is going down FULLY AWAKE (not drowsy – there is no drowsy but awake!) and putting themselves to sleep (no sleep crutches)
  2. Your baby can do one long sleep once a day (more than 40 minutes)
  3. Your baby wakes happy from naps
  4. Your baby can get to bedtime happy on the day naps they are getting
  5. You’re happy

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated the sleep needs of babies and children as a guideline. It’s really important to take note of the word GUIDELINE. It is exactly that, a guide, it is not set in stone.

Strong Personalities

Temperament is an important indicator of total sleep needs. The baby with a strong personality is often a resistant day napper and falls towards the lower end of the scale. Culture also plays a large part in how much sleep. Babies in New Zealand get the most sleep compared to babies in SE Asia. Sleep needs are trending lower across many cultures than they ever have. Are these babies getting enough sleep or has modern living compromised their sleep routines together with the adults?

Have a look at these bedtimes from around the world and their bedtimes!

sleep needs and bedtimes

https://www.parentingscience.com/baby-sleep-requirements.html

Sleep Charts

Sleep charts are definitely not the last word on baby sleep requirements. To estimate your baby’s own, individualized needs, you need to supplement information from sleep charts together with your own observations of your baby’s behaviour.

Mindell et al (2009) research 

  • 0-2 month old – Total sleep was 10-19 hours and the average was 13-14.5 hours
  • 2-12 month old – Total sleep was  9-10 hours at night and 3-4 hours in day naps, the average was 12-13 hours
  • 1-3 year old toddlers – Total sleep was 9.5-10.5 hours and 2-3 hours of day naps, the average was 11-13 hours
  • 3-5 year old children – Total sleep was 9-10 hours, the average was 9-10 hours

Longitudinal Swiss Study

Iglowstein et al (2003) tracked 493 Swiss children from birth to 16 years. Here are the sleep patterns they observed for children under the age of 2 years. They may serve as a rough guide to baby sleep requirements.

  • 1 month old – The average baby got a total of 14-15 hours of sleep, 50% of babies got between 13 and 16 hour, 96% of babies got between 9 and 19 hours
  • 3 months old – The average baby got a total of 14-15 hours of sleep, 50% of babies got between 13 and 16 hours, 96% of babies got between 10 and 19 hours
  • 6 months old – The average baby got about 14.2 hours of total sleep, 50% of babies got between 13 and 15.5 hours, 96% of babies got between 10.4 and 18.1 hours
  • 9 months old – The average baby got about 13.9 hours of total sleep, 50% of babies got between 12.8 and 15 hours, 96% of babies got between 10.5 and 17.4 hours
  • 1 year old – The average baby got about 13.9 hours of total sleep, 50% of babies got between 13 and 14.8 hours, 96% of babies got between 11.4 and 16.5 hours
  • 18 months old – The average baby got about 13.6 hours of total sleep, 50% of babies got between 12.7 and 14.5 hours, 96% of babies got between 11.1 and 16 hours
  • 2 years old – The average baby got about 13.2 hours of total sleep, 50% of babies got between 12.3 and 14 hours, 96% of babies got between 10.8 and 15.6 hours

So, as you can see there is a large variation from baby to baby. This blog made me recall a mum from the Inner West of Sydney whose 3 month old baby regularly did 20 hours every single day. Everyone in the mother’s group shot daggers her way! Her 2nd child was equally sleepy.

And just to add more to the mix…

Feeding, Co-sleeping and Sleep

Breastfed babies tend to sleep less.

Studies of 4 week-old infants found that breastfed babies got less sleep than did formula-fed babies (Quillin and Glenn 2004; Quillin 1997).

Cosleeping babies sleep less.

A Swiss study has reported that children over 9 months of age who shared their parents’ beds slept less than did children who slept alone (Jenni et al 2005).

Every baby is different. Try not to worry, most babies will regulate their own sleep needs. And if you need help please contact me. I’d love to help you with your baby’s sleep. 

This article was in response to a question from a mum in my Nurture Sleep Program. To learn more about this program and support group click this link.

Superfine merino sleepwear is better for baby than cotton

7 things you need to know about day naps and baby sleep

3 Reasons Your Baby Needs Good Day Naps

Learn about my new online Nurture Sleep Program. It will stop the guesswork and give you:
✅ A tried and tested approach (20 years of helping families with baby & toddler sleep)
✅ Evidence-based
✅ Gentle baby sleep methods
✅ Holistic assessment
✅ Nurture & Nourish nutrition program – all recipes have sleep-inducing ingredients and a perfect balance for a good nights sleep
✅ Access to a closed Facebook group for one on one support from Karen and 90+ timecoded Facebook Live videos
✅ Prevention for under 4 months so no need to do sleep training ever
✅ And all at a low $97 for a very limited time
Can you tell Karen is getting rather excited for all you parents who need a good nights sleep and one that happens EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and not just in a blue moon 🌑 .

CLICK on the link below to find out how my new online program can help you and your baby

Nurture Sleep Program

Do Nightlights Help Baby & Toddler Sleep?

Do Nightlights Help Baby & Toddler Sleep?

Darkness is essential to sleep. Light in the day is responsible for setting the 24 hour circadian rhythm responsible for sleep and awake periods.

Melatonin

Light exposure at night also stimulates alertness— posing a serious problem for healthy, abundant and refreshing sleep. Light exposure during the late evening leading up to bedtime can make it harder for the baby and toddler to fall asleep. Insufficient darkness throughout the night can lead to frequent and prolonged awakenings. Melatonin, a hormone produced in the pineal gland is at it’s lowest at 5 am and any light that enters the bedroom will hit the brain low in melatonin leading to early morning waking. This will in turn lead to day nap problems and a poor appetite.

Melatonin influences sleep by sending a signal to the brain saying it is time for rest. This signal initiates the body’s physiological preparations for sleep—muscles begin to relax, feelings of drowsiness increase, body temperature drops. Melatonin levels naturally rise during the early evening as darkness falls. At night, particularly between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. melatonin is secreted. The problem is, even the slightest ray of artificial light can disrupt its release. It continues to climb throughout most of the night, before peaking at around 2-4 a.m. Levels of melatonin then fall during the early morning, Remaining low during much of the day. Continuous darkness at night leads to increased levels of circulating melatonin. Whereas continuous light including night lights leads to suppression of melatonin.

Evening light exposure inhibits the naturally timed rise of melatonin, which delays the onset of the body’s transition to sleep and sleep itself.

Nurture Parenting store image computer and baby

Electricity the modern sleep enemy

In the old days humans did not need to seek out darkness. The advent of electricity has created a modern problem. We need to recreate the darkness and dim lighting our ancestors enjoyed naturally pre bedtime. Blue light, is especially problematic, created by screens, tablets, smart phones and televisions interferes with and inhibits the natural production of melatonin.

Managing light exposure is essential for a healthy nights sleep for your baby and toddler. Any electrical night light left on during the night affects the appetite hormone ghrelin and can lead to insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.

7 things you need to know about day naps and baby sleep

Heavy lined curtains & blinds

Your childs room should be pitch black for sleep. Using heavy lined curtains and block out blinds can make a big difference. Plantation shutters don’t provide a dark enough bedroom. Bedroom blackout blinds can make a huge difference and Nurture Parenting has a discount code NURTURE10 ONLY for parents living in Australia.

Superfine merino sleepwear is better for baby than cotton

Toddlers and Nightmares

Once your toddler starts reading and maybe waching TV their imagination starts. This can lead to nightmares and suddenly becoming scared of the dark. Rather than give in to them and leaving a bedroom light on try using a light on in the bathroom. If this starts causing early morning or frequent night waking then you need to know about Lou The Owl. This is a Dutch designed nightlight that turns on in response to your child crying out and turns off automatically within 5 minutes. A word of caution place this light out of reach for your toddler in case they start to play with it and over ride the automatic turn off mechanism.

http://www.zazu-kids.nl/product/lou/

The Early Morning Riser and Addiction to Dairy and the Boob

The Early Morning Riser and Addiction to Dairy and the Boob

Strong Temperaments

This blog could have been written about several little cuties that I know. The problem often starts at around 6-8 months. I can even see the writing on the wall and predict which of the early morning risers will continue to do so!

Most of this behaviour is down to their strong temperament and is not due to any underlying medical problem or physiological issue. The babies with a very fixed view on life are the ones to keep on a very short rein.

You may remember reading about the baby who wouldn’t sit in his high chair and the parents had resorted to feeding him in the bath?

https://nurtureparenting.com.au/the-baby-who-wont-sit-in-his-highchair/

The baby who would only eat yoghurt

Well I’m adding a new one today, I’m naming him the baby who would only eat yoghurt! His name is Keanu. When Keanu was 6 months old I went to help his parents teach him how to sleep through the night. I remember he had an addiction to yoghurt. If he could just eat yoghurt he would of. Mum was tearing her hair out getting this little 6 month old to entertain other foods. I knew straight away that if mum continued with yoghurt this little one wasn’t going to sleep.

Babies need a balanced diet in order to promote sleep inducing hormone – melatonin. And yoghurt is a disater for sleep as it has too much tyrosine which undoes all the tryptophan that promotes a good nights sleep.

https://nurtureparenting.com.au/yoghurt-can-sabotage-baby-sleep/

Demanding Yoghurt

Keanu is now 15 months old and is still demanding yoghurt for breakfast. He also likes fruit. But not much else. He demands a breast feed 6 times a day and wakes at 4:30 am and demands a breast feed and to get up and start his day!!

You might remember a blog I wrote recently about limit setting? Boundaries and limit setting start with babies, not with 15 month olds or even 3 year olds. By the time they are toddlers a lot of these habits are well and truly entrenched and are much more challenging to change.

https://nurtureparenting.com.au/limit-setting-for-your-baby-0-12-months/

The time to have put your foot down was at 6 months and not now at 15 months. However we have no choice as time has now lapsed and the mini-dictator is well and truly in charge in this home!

So what can you do to rectify this situation?

  • Reduce all the breast feeds down to one just before bed – toddlers only need 2 servings of dairy a day. And a serving of dairy is equivalent to 40g or a matchbox of cheese or 2 slices or 200 mls ful cream milk or a breast feed or a small tub of full fat yoghurt
  • Tell the toddler that ‘booby’ is broken, cover your nipple and breast with a dressing plaster such as duoderm to make booby far less attractive.
  • By day 5 his appetite will improve
  • The toddler is most probably iron deficient so either an iron supplement or chicken liver pate on the menu on alternate days. Iron deficiency can cause sleep problems
  • Re-settle him at 4:30 am when he wakes using my technique, Magic Presence until 6/7 am whenever you’d like your day to start
  • Expect tantrums when he doesn’t get his own way, tantrums are helping him learn to emotionally self-regulate so are actually a good thing
  • Make sure his room is pitch black to help reduce early morning waking
  • Offer foods high in tryptophan to help promote melatonin
  • Plenty of good nourishing fats
  • Make sure he’s warm enough at 4 am as body temp can drop at this time
  • This will take 2-4 weeks to resolve and 2 months at the outside!

https://nurtureparenting.com.au/iron-rich-foods-how-much-does-your-baby-or-toddler-need/

https://nurtureparenting.com.au/helping-baby-sleep-with-diet/

10 reasons sleep is important for babies

10 reasons sleep is important for babies

Getting enough sleep for mums and babies is my passion and I totally understand the desperation you feel when sleep is not going well. These 10 reasons are why baby and toddler sleep has me slightly obsessed.

Parents tell me, ‘My child is super alert, Karen!’ and ‘My child is very sensitive and they just don’t like to sleep much’. These are two of the many common threads of babies who fight their sleep. For these highly alert, intelligent and anxious children, their intelligence, health and wellbeing, and overall happiness depend on them getting enough sleep. In fact, they need more sleep than most to cope with their day. It’s the opposite to which their parents believe is the truth.

sleep training courageHow much sleep is enough?

After much debate, this is how much sleep the AAP decided babies and children need. However, there are variations at both ends of this spectrum.

  • 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
  • 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
  • 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/going-beyond-intelligence/201808/sleep-essential-intelligence-health-and-happiness

toddler sleep help

Why is sleep important?

  1. Babies move on developmentally quicker when well rested and they have a lot more energy
  2. They feed better and gain weight appropriately – sleep helps a normal weight gain by influencing the appetite hormone and insulin levels
  3. It improves mood, a rested baby is a happier baby
  4. Their immune system is stronger making them less susceptible to colds and illness
  5. It increases learning at a much deeper level, making sense of the day’s events and creating new connections in the brain
  6. Emotional and physical self-regulation. Babies who sleep well and are able to self-soothe manage their emotions better and are less stressed and anxious
  7. It clears out the nasty toxins which build up in the brain
  8. It improves impulse control and judgement – Insufficient sleep leads to distracted behaviour, impulsivity, and reduced ability to concentrate, sometimes to the point of looking like they have symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). I’ve met many babies and children who were given this diagnosis who were in fact just tired.
  9. Behaviour – lack of sleep leads to poor behaviour and attention seeking behaviour. 
  10. Physical growth and repair. The pituitary gland releases growth hormone during sleep, which the body requires for growth, fat breakdown, and repair.

why sleep is important for babies

 

 

Separation anxiety and the toddler who clings to you like a koala

The impulsive toddler and crossing the road

.
And if you’re battling with getting your little one to sleep then… You need to know about my NEWLY launched online #nurturesleepprogram 💤😴
.
It will stop the guesswork and give you:
a tried and tested approach (20 years of helping families with baby & toddler sleep) ✅
Evidence based ✅
Gentle baby sleep methods ✅
Holistic assessment ✅
Nurture & Nourish nutrition program – all recipes have sleep inducing ingredients and a perfect balance for a good nights sleep ✅
Access to a closed Facebook group for one on one support from Karen and 90+ timecoded Facebook Live videos ✅
Prevention for under 4 months ✅ so no need to do sleep training ever ✅
And all at a low $97 for a very limited time ✅
Can you tell Karen is getting rather excited for all you parents who need a good nights sleep and one that happens EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and not just in a blue moon 🌑 .

CLICK on the link below to find out how this can help you and your baby.

Nurture Sleep Program

Toddler refuses to sleep at night

Toddler refuses to sleep at night

I often get mums messaging me via my online chat in the middle of the night from overseas. This desperate message came from a mum in the UK and she’d sent it at 4 pm Sydney Australia time which was 3 am UK time.

I get it. It’s lonely in those early hours of the morning. You think no one else is up except you and your baby and toddler who won’t go the f**k to sleep. You’ve had it. You’ve had no sleep at all. And you can’t see yourself getting any sleep from then till 7 am. You think I might as well just give up, it’s just not going to happen.

“Hi, I have a toddler who refuses to sleep the whole night. It has come to the point that I’m lucky if he falls asleep at 7 am! As sometimes it can be 11 am and he STILL hasn’t slept. He has just turned 2 and I also have a newborn so the lack of sleep is killing me. Please help if you can I’m desperate.”

I replied back and said please contact me I can help you. Really I can.

One day passed and still no reply.

Maybe she went to every website and posted the same thing? Maybe she got an instant reply from a chatbot? Who knows.

Then this message came through from Karina in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“Hi, Karen. just wanna appreciate everything you put on your blog. now I know why my 9-month-old is catnapping, eats very little of solids, wakes at least 5 times during the night to FEED. You just opened my eyes! thank you so much! Can we just do an email consultation?”

Non-nutritive breast feeding and baby sleep regressions

Babies need a nourishing-fat diet for good sleep

When I first started Nurture Parenting 8 years ago next month I had no idea when I started blogging if anyone was actually listening to me and reading my blog. I started this blog as a way to help my sister with her first baby. And I just hoped I helped others along the way. Nowadays I have parents from over 90 countries read my blogs every single week!! It blows my mind and makes me so happy.

So, just know if you send me a message in the middle of the night I do read them and I do reply. If I’m on an overnight helping a family you may not get a reply until the following day but I will always reply. At the end of the message is Karen and not an automated chatbot. And I do care about you and your baby or toddler who isn’t sleeping tonight.

xoxo

.
And if you’re battling with getting your little one to sleep then… You need to know about my NEWLY launched online #nurturesleepprogram 💤😴
.
It will stop the guesswork and give you:
a tried and tested approach (20 years of helping families with baby & toddler sleep) ✅
Evidence based ✅
Gentle baby sleep methods ✅
Holistic assessment ✅
Nurture & Nourish nutrition program – all recipes have sleep inducing ingredients and a perfect balance for a good nights sleep ✅
Access to a closed Facebook group for one on one support from Karen and 90+ timecoded Facebook Live videos ✅
Prevention for under 4 months ✅ so no need to do sleep training ever ✅
And all at a low $97 for a very limited time ✅
Can you tell Karen is getting rather excited for all you parents who need a good nights sleep and one that happens EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and not just in a blue moon 🌑 .

CLICK on the link below to find out how this new program can help you and your little one.

Nurture Sleep Program

Toddler Jumping Out of Cot

Toddler Jumping Out of Cot


Here is a typical toddler sleep problem parents tear their
hair out over!
   
 

Hi Karen,
I had a consult last year and I think I still have 1 follow up question. Please let me know if I don’t… 
We have now reached the toddler (22 months) bed stage and sleeping has gone out the wedding. 
A few weeks back my daughter started hating the cot and was hysterical at the thought of going to bed (we have never experienced this). On one occasion she climbed out of the cot so I took the side off and made a toddler bed. 
My toddler continues to hate going to bed and needs me to lay with her. Or wants to lay with me on the lounge. This is happening for night and day naps. We go through hours of her fighting sleep until she eventually falls asleep playing or watching a movie. 
Even when asleep, she is restless and constantly changes positions and moves around (I know this as most nights she ends ups up with me).
I know I need to preserve and get her to stay in her bed but any tips would be good. 
Thanks, 

Hello Kimberley,
As you’ve found moving out of a cot is challenging. Was she wearing a sleeping bag when she climbed out? Sleeping bags usually manage to stop the active jumper/climber.
Impulse control and temperature control are big issues in children under 3 years old. They can climb out of bed 50 x because they’re 2! My sisters little one did this when she moved to a toddler bed at 2 yo.
Keeping her in a toddler bed vs. moving back to the cot I’ll let you decide.
Keeping her in the bed you’ll need a safety gate on her room and to remove all items from her room for safety. I’d try a mattress on the floor rather than a bed, usually more successful because of fall risk. If you use a bed you’ll need a bed rail to keep her safe.
Use Magic Presence to settle and resettle. It will take up to 2-4 weeks to get on top of this situation and get her sleeping through the night.

And if you’re battling with getting your little one to sleep then… You need to know about my NEWLY launched online #nurturesleepprogram 💤😴
.
It will stop the guesswork and give you:
a tried and tested approach (20 years of helping families with baby & toddler sleep) ✅
Evidence based ✅
Gentle baby sleep methods ✅
Holistic assessment ✅
Nurture & Nourish nutrition program – all recipes have sleep inducing ingredients and a perfect balance for a good nights sleep ✅
Access to a closed Facebook group for one on one support from Karen and 90+ timecoded Facebook Live videos ✅
Prevention for under 4 months ✅ so no need to do sleep training ever ✅
And all at a low $97 for a very limited time ✅
Can you tell Karen is getting rather excited for all you parents who need a good nights sleep and one that happens EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and not just in a blue moon 🌑 .

Nurture Sleep Program

https://nurtureparenting.com.au/terrible-toddler-sleep-elis-story-about-her-son-brendan/

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/baby-care-moving-from-cot-to-bed

http://www.dailymontessori.com/montessori-questions-answers/cot-to-bed-problems/