how much sleep do babies and children need
how much sleep do babies and children need

We all know that getting enough sleep is crucial for our overall health and well-being, but have you ever wondered how much sleep babies and children actually need? In this article, we will uncover the secrets behind the sleep patterns of our little ones and provide you with some helpful insights on how to promote healthy sleep habits. From newborns to teenagers, understanding their sleep needs can help us ensure that they get the rest they deserve for optimal growth and development. So, let’s dive into the world of baby and children’s sleep and discover how we can support their sweet dreams.

Newborns (0-3 months)

Recommended sleep hours

Newborns, also known as infants under the age of 3 months, generally require a significant amount of sleep. On average, newborns sleep for about 14 to 17 hours per day. However, it is important to note that these hours of sleep are usually spread out over multiple short naps throughout the day and night. This is because newborns have small stomachs and therefore need to wake up every few hours to feed.

Sleep patterns and schedule

The sleep patterns of newborns are often irregular, and it can be challenging for parents to establish a consistent sleep schedule during this time. Newborns tend to sleep in short cycles of about 2 to 4 hours at a time, waking up frequently for feeding and diaper changes. They may also experience periods of wakefulness during the night.

Parents can help their newborns develop healthy sleep patterns by creating a soothing bedtime routine that includes dimming the lights, swaddling, gentle rocking, and offering a feeding before bed. It is also helpful to keep the room dark and quiet during nighttime feedings to minimize stimulation and encourage your little one to go back to sleep quickly.

Infants (4-11 months)

Recommended sleep hours

As infants grow older, their sleep needs change. Between the ages of 4 and 11 months, infants typically require around 12 to 15 hours of sleep per day. This includes both nighttime sleep and daytime naps.

Sleep patterns and schedule

By this stage, many infants have established a more regular sleep pattern and are sleeping for longer stretches at night. They still tend to take multiple naps during the day, though the number of naps gradually decreases as they approach 12 months.

To encourage healthy sleep patterns in infants, it is important to establish a consistent bedtime routine. This may include activities such as a warm bath, reading a book, or singing a lullaby. Consistency is key, as it helps signal to your baby that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Toddlers (1-2 years)

Recommended sleep hours

Toddlers, who are between the ages of 1 and 2 years, generally need around 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day. This includes both nighttime sleep and a nap or two during the day.

Sleep patterns and schedule

At this age, most toddlers are transitioning to a single afternoon nap and sleeping through the night without waking up. However, some toddlers may still wake up occasionally during the night, and this can be due to a variety of reasons such as teething, growth spurts, or separation anxiety.

It is important to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine for toddlers. This helps them feel secure and establishes healthy sleep habits. It is also advisable to create a sleep-friendly environment by keeping the room cool, dark, and quiet. Additionally, minimizing the use of electronic devices before bed can help promote better sleep.

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

Recommended sleep hours

Preschoolers, who are between the ages of 3 and 5 years, generally require about 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day. Most children in this age group no longer take daytime naps and have consolidated their sleep into a single overnight period.

Sleep patterns and schedule

Preschoolers typically have a more stable sleep pattern compared to younger children. They usually sleep through the night without waking up and have a consistent bedtime routine. However, it is not uncommon for preschoolers to experience occasional nighttime awakenings due to nightmares, bedwetting, or other factors.

To help preschoolers establish healthy sleep habits, it is important to have a regular bedtime routine that includes activities such as brushing teeth, reading a story, or having a calm conversation. Creating a sleep-friendly environment with a comfortable mattress, pillows, and appropriate room temperature can also contribute to better sleep quality.

School-aged children (6-13 years)

Recommended sleep hours

School-aged children, who are between the ages of 6 and 13 years, need about 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night.

Sleep patterns and schedule

As children enter school and become more involved in extracurricular activities, their sleep patterns may be disrupted. They may have to wake up earlier in the morning and may have homework or other responsibilities that keep them up later at night. It is important to prioritize sleep and ensure children are getting enough rest to support their physical and cognitive development.

Establishing a consistent sleep schedule is crucial for school-aged children. This includes establishing a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. Consistency helps regulate their internal body clock and promotes better sleep quality.

Teenagers (14-17 years)

Recommended sleep hours

Teenagers typically require about 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. However, due to various factors such as social activities, schoolwork, and technological distractions, many teenagers do not get enough sleep and experience sleep deprivation.

Sleep patterns and schedule

During adolescence, teenagers often experience a shift in their circadian rhythm, resulting in a natural tendency to stay awake later at night and sleep in later in the morning. This can conflict with early school start times and result in insufficient sleep.

To promote healthy sleep habits in teenagers, it is important to educate them about the importance of sleep and help them establish a consistent sleep schedule. Encouraging a quiet and relaxing bedtime routine, limiting caffeine intake in the evening, and avoiding screens before bed can also contribute to better sleep quality.

Factors Influencing Sleep Duration

Individual needs

It is essential to recognize that every child is unique and may have slightly different sleep requirements. Some children may naturally require more sleep, while others may thrive on less sleep. It is important for parents to observe their child’s behavior and adjust their sleep schedule accordingly to ensure they are getting enough rest.

Physical development

Sleep needs can vary depending on the stage of physical development a child is experiencing. For example, infants and toddlers may require more sleep to support their rapid growth and brain development, while older children may need less sleep as they grow and mature.

Environmental factors

The sleep environment plays a significant role in an individual’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Factors such as noise, temperature, and light levels can greatly impact the quality of sleep. Creating a calm and comfortable sleep environment can help promote better sleep.

Screen time and digital devices

Excessive screen time and the use of digital devices before bed can disrupt sleep patterns. The blue light emitted by screens can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. It is important to limit screen time, especially in the evening, to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

Behavioral problems

Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to various behavioral problems in children and teenagers. It can result in irritability, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and increased impulsivity. Lack of sleep can also contribute to hyperactivity and behavioral disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Cognitive impairment

Insufficient sleep can significantly impact cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. Children and teenagers who consistently lack sleep may struggle academically and have difficulty retaining information learned at school.

Weakened immune system

Adequate sleep plays a vital role in supporting the immune system. Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illness and infections. Children who do not get enough sleep may experience more frequent illnesses and longer recovery times.

Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits

Bedtime routines

Bedtime routines are a helpful way to signal to the body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep. A consistent routine can include activities such as taking a warm bath, brushing teeth, reading a book, or practicing relaxation techniques. Establishing a bedtime routine helps children and teenagers transition from the busyness of the day to a state of relaxation and prepare for sleep.

Consistent sleep schedule

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, including regular bedtimes and wake-up times, helps regulate the body’s internal clock. Consistency can make it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally without the need for an alarm clock. It is essential to prioritize sleep and ensure that sufficient time is set aside for rest.

Creating a sleep-friendly environment

A sleep-friendly environment is essential for promoting quality sleep. This includes keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. It is helpful to have comfortable bedding, a supportive mattress, and pillows that suit individual preferences. Addressing any potential disruptions such as noise or light can greatly enhance the sleep environment.

Limiting screen time

Excessive screen time, especially before bed, can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. The blue light emitted by screens can suppress melatonin production and make it harder to fall asleep. It is advisable to limit screen time, especially in the evening, and establish technology-free zones in the bedroom to promote better sleep.

Tips for Dealing with Sleep Issues

Frequent waking

If a child or teenager is waking up frequently during the night, it is essential to explore potential causes. Addressing factors such as discomfort, anxiety, or an inconsistent sleep schedule may help reduce nighttime awakenings. Creating a calm and soothing sleep environment can also contribute to better sleep quality.

Nightmares and night terrors

Nightmares and night terrors can be distressing for children and teenagers. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine and providing reassurance can help alleviate anxiety and reduce the frequency of these sleep disturbances. It is crucial to create a safe and comforting environment to promote peaceful sleep.

Bedtime resistance

Some children and teenagers may resist going to bed, leading to bedtime battles and delayed sleep. To address this, it is important to establish a consistent bedtime routine that includes activities the child enjoys. Providing clear boundaries and maintaining a calm and positive atmosphere can help overcome bedtime resistance.

Transitioning from co-sleeping

When transitioning from co-sleeping to independent sleep, it is essential to establish a gradual and gentle process. Creating a consistent bedtime routine and gradually moving the child to their own sleep space can promote a smooth transition. Patience, understanding, and reassurance are key during this adjustment period.

In conclusion, sleep is crucial for children and teenagers of all ages. The recommended amount of sleep varies depending on the age group, with newborns requiring the most sleep and teenagers needing slightly less. It is important to establish healthy sleep habits from an early age and create a sleep-friendly environment. By understanding the factors influencing sleep duration and addressing any sleep issues that arise, parents can help ensure their children get the rest they need to thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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Amanda Bryant
Hello! My name is Amanda Bryant, and I am thrilled to be your go-to Chiropractic and sleep expert here at With years of experience and a passion for helping individuals achieve a restful night's sleep, I am dedicated to providing you with insightful tips and techniques to promote optimal sleep health. As a respected chiropractor, I have earned the trust and credibility within the industry. I hold numerous prizes and awards, recognizing my expertise in the field. With a deep understanding of the crucial relationship between quality sleep and overall well-being, my goal is to empower you with knowledge that can transform your sleep habits and enhance your life. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of assisting countless individuals in their journey towards improved sleep. Through my dedication and commitment, I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact that a good night's rest can have on one's physical and mental health.