The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Baby Sleep Patterns

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Baby Sleep Patterns

As a parent, you have probably experienced waking up in the middle of the night to soothe your baby and get him back to sleep. And while you can sleep continuously, you should know that your newborn is likely to have short naps and several waking periods throughout the night.

The intermittent sleep that your baby experiences affects the amount of rest he needs for proper development. Fortunately, there are guidelines that can assist you to make sure he is well-rested.

Curious to know how you can give your newborn the sleep he needs? Read this ultimate guide that will help you understand baby sleep patterns from 0 to 18 months.


Everything You Need to Know About Baby Sleep Patterns


● Newborn

Newborns are between 0-4 weeks old. During this early age, your baby still doesn’t have a concept of day and night. As a result, your baby’s sleep pattern is still erratic and irregular.

    • Total Amount of Sleep Needed

Your newborn needs a large amount of sleep to support his rapid mental and physical development. Ideally, he requires 16 to 18 hours of sleep.

    • Awake Time in Between Sleep

Your baby spends most of his time in sleep but he cannot rest for more than 2 hours. He should be awake for only 30 minutes to 1 hour before he goes back to sleep again.

    • Number of Naps

Your newborn will wake up several times during the day. He should have 3 to 5 naps everyday with each one lasting from 15 minutes to 2 hours long.

    • Feeding Schedule

Your baby frequently wakes up during the day because he needs to eat. His feeding time should take no more than an hour.


During this constant sleep-eat-poop cycle, you should make sure your newborn is properly fed so he can go back to rest as soon as possible.


Tip: Do not create a structured sleep schedule as your baby will just sleep whenever he likes it. Instead, focus on teaching him the difference between day and night.


● 1 month

Once your baby is 1 month old, he starts to take more naps. You should allow him to do so in order to prevent overtiredness.

    • Total Amount of Sleep Needed

Your baby needs periodic daytime naps which can last between 6 to 7 hours. He’s also able to sleep for slightly longer periods at night from 8 to 9 hours. In total, he requires 14 to 16 hours of sleep.

    • Awake Time in Between Sleep

Like 0-3 week old newborns, your 1 month old baby can still wake up constantly. Ideally, he should be awake for an hour to 1 ½ hours.

    • Number of Naps

Your newborn should typically take 4 to 5 naps everyday.

    • Feeding Schedule

Typically, you should feed your baby after play time. This can last anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour.


● 3 months

Three months marks a transition in your baby’s sleep patterns. During this period, he is now able to recognise the difference between day and night. And depending on how fast your newborn develops, he starts to establish a bedtime routine.

    • Total Amount of Sleep Needed

During this period, your baby needs 14 to 16 hours of sleep.

    • Awake Time in Between Sleep

Your baby should be awake for about an hour and a half to 2 hours.

    • Number of Naps

The transition on baby sleep patterns can cause sleep to look different depending on the baby. Some babies can be down to just 2 naps per day.


But on average, your baby should take 3 to 4 naps and each should last two hours at most to help him sleep better through the night.


Did you know? Sleep regression affects 3 to 4-month-old babies due to the changes in their sleep cycle. As a result, babies often experience waking up at night which can lead to fussing and crying.


● 6 months

At this age, your baby can either successfully sleep through the night or revert back to his old routine. He also often experiences a “growth spurt” during this time in which he suddenly gains weight and length.

    • Total Amount of Sleep Needed

Your newborn needs more sleep during this period. Overall, he needs 13 to 15 hours of rest everyday.

    • Awake Time in Between Sleep

If your baby starts waking up constantly, he should only be awake for 2 hours.

    • Number of Naps

Your newborn usually takes 2 naps, each 3 hours long.

    • Feeding Schedule

Your baby should be eating solid foods by this age. He needs to have a varied and balanced diet which includes protein, fat, and carbohydrates. He will also need to eat vegetables and fruits to aid his brain development.

As a result of all this, his milk intake can now be reduced to 3 feeds a day.


● 9 months

Your baby now has a distinct sleeping pattern at this age. That’s why you should take note of your baby’s sleep cues and start implementing a consistent bedtime routine.

    • Total Amount of Sleep Needed

At this period, your baby only needs 12 to 14 hours of sleep.

    • Awake Time in Between Sleep

Your infant should be active for 3 to 5 hours throughout the day.

    • Number of Naps

2 naps is all your baby needs, with each one lasting for a maximum of 3 hours.


Did you know? According to the National Sleep Foundation, 70-80% of 9-month-old babies can successfully sleep through the night.


● 12 months

Your baby’s sleep pattern should now be similar to adults. He can sleep continuously during the night but he may still require a few naps.

    • Total Amount of Sleep Needed

Your 1-year-old baby should typically sleep for 11 to 14 hours.

    • Awake Time in Between Sleep

At this age, your infant spends most of his time playing with his toys and exploring his surroundings. He is a lot more active now, which means he can be awake for 4 to 6 hours.

    • Number of Naps

Your infant might take 1 to 2 naps each day.


● 18 months

Your toddler is now able to self-settle at this period. He can also go back to sleep on his own if he’s ever awaken in the middle of the night.

    • Total Amount of Sleep Needed

Your toddler now only needs 10 to 14 hours of sleep.

    • Awake Time in Between Sleep

Depending on the day’s activities, your child can be awake for 5 to 7 hours.

    • Number of Naps

Your toddler is only down to 1 nap that can last for 1 to 2 hours.


Essential Dos and Don’ts to Help Your Baby Sleep

Your baby cannot establish sleep and wake cycles on his own. You should create a bedtime routine to help him sleep. In order to guide you, here are some dos and don’ts to build a successful sleep pattern.


  • Do Put Your Baby to Sleep on His Back

Babies who sleep on their stomach can experience problems in breathing because their lungs get less oxygen.

To keep him safe, you should put your baby to sleep on his back. You also decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by letting him rest in this position.

  • Don’t Let Your Baby Fall Asleep in Your Arms

Avoid letting your baby fall asleep in your arms as this can become a bad habit. Your baby may show clingy behaviour and expect you to help him fall asleep. This can hinder him from learning how to sleep on his own.

  • Do Set Up a Comfortable Crib for Your Baby

Create a comfortable environment for your child to help him fall asleep. You should add soft pillows and a snug blanket in his crib to make it more inviting to sleep in. With a cozy crib, your baby can also get better quality rest.

  • Don’t Use the Crib for Playtime

Avoid putting toys in the crib to prevent overactivity. By doing this, you can establish to your baby that his crib is a place to sleep.

  • Do Turn Off Light

Your baby’s wake-sleep cycle can be affected by light. You should keep the lighting dim, or completely turn it off during bedtime to help him fall asleep faster.

  • Do Not Put Distractions in His Room

You should not put distractions, such as computers and TV in his room. These things can prevent your baby from sleeping on time as they emit light.

  • Do Accept That Your Baby Will Wake Up at Night

You should realize that your baby will wake up in the middle of the night because of his short sleep cycle. You should only intervene when he can’t go back to sleep on his own.

  • Don’t Panic When Your Baby Suddenly Cries

It’s every parent’s instincts but you should avoid rushing in your baby when he makes a sound. Give him a chance to return back to sleep on his own.


Babies sleep differently from adults. It’s important to understand distinct baby sleep patterns in order to build a healthy and successful bedtime routine. Ultimately, this can help your baby fall asleep quickly.

Still need help? Take the advice of Nurture Parenting, the baby sleep experts in Australia. You may also consider our Nurture Sleep Program to help your baby sleep easily in just seven simple steps. Contact us today to know more!

Found this post informative? Check out our blog for other helpful information about baby sleep.

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Nurture Parenting's Karen Faulkner is a baby sleep and toddler expert who brings calm and sleep into families and gives parents their confidence back. Cerris Pty Ltd trading as Nurture Parenting - ABN 42 623 216 384 - Sydney, Australia

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