Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule

Parenting an infant can be both a blessing and a challenge. Part of the challenge is figuring out how to navigate their confusing sleep schedule and understanding their sleep behaviors. For adults, getting some much needed sleep at night after a busy and exhausting workday feels natural. However, we must remember that sleeping, just like eating, speaking, and walking, is an activity that babies have to practice and learn.

You want to make sure you’re always following the ABCs of Safe Sleep with your baby, but you might still be curious about their sleep schedule in general. Below are some answers to basic, yet important, infant sleep questions you shouldn’t be afraid to ask.

Understanding your baby's sleep schedule.How much sleep does my baby need?

While every baby is different, it is important to have an idea of how long your baby should be sleeping at their age. Generally the older they are, the less sleep they need. AAP recommendations state that an infant up to 6 months of age may sleep up to 16-17 hours in a 24 hour period including nighttime and naps.

Why does my newborn sleep all day and stay up at night?
For the first 4-6 weeks, it’s very common for infants to sleep for most of the day and frequently wake up during the night. You can help your baby make a distinction between the two by keeping your house bright during the day and darker and quieter at night.

New parents often experience exhaustion from sleep deprivation during those first few months, so don’t be afraid to ask for help so that you can feel rested. Exhaustion is one of the DANGERS that can risk a child’s safety while they’re sleeping, so reach out to a friend or family member when you need rest.

What can I do to help my baby sleep better?
The AAP has some suggestions for helping your baby sleep better through the night.

  • When you feed or change your baby during the night, try not to stimulate them too much. Keep them calm and quiet so they are able to get back to sleep more easily.
  • Put your baby to bed when drowsy but still awake. This will help your baby learn to fall asleep on their own.
  • Fill your baby’s daytime with playtime. Lengthening your baby’s awake time during the day will help them sleep better at night.
  • Wait a few minutes before responding to your baby’s crying to see if they’ll fall back to sleep without you.

When it comes to sleep, remember your child is a beginner and needs help learning a proper sleep schedule. While the guidelines above give you an idea of sleep patterns for specific ages, remember that your top priority is keeping your child safe while sleeping. While you want them to be able to sleep through the night, they should do so in the safest way possible: Alone, on their Back, and in a Clean, Clear Crib.