One of the questions I get asked often is exactly how much sleep our little ones need in 24 hours. There is a pretty good base that we can follow based on scientific research & because every little one's sleep needs are different, the range is very wide for each age group.
Sleep seems to be the second question parents get about their little one - "Aw how sweet, how old is she? Is she sleeping?" It seems to go hand in hand with babies & for some reason, parents associate a "good" baby with one that sleeps. Why do you think that is? Off the top of my head, generally, a baby that doesn't' sleep well or enough is typically fussier & cries more frequently. So how do we know how much sleep our little ones need?
While we do want to be sure that your little one is getting an adequate amount of zzz's (chart below), I also want you as the parent to realize that each infant's sleep needs are extremely different than another little one. Also, know that sleep fragmentation - those frequent wakings - in newborns is completely necessary, especially in those first months, to prevent SIDS, for security, & for nutrition.
If your best friend's newborn is sleeping 17 hours a day & yours only 12 hours, that is completely normal!
Everything about sleep is so personal & unique to that specific little person (or adult!). My husband can run on 5-6 hours of sleep to function. I on the other hand need a good 7-8 hours. My boys all sleep for about 12 hours a night now but their friends sleep about 10 hours a night.
Here are the sleep recommendations according to the National Sleep Foundation. Keep in mind that this is sleep within 24 hours - so it does include naps! I would like you to focus on the entire amount including the teal parts & not just the blue.
Where does your little one fall within the recommendations?
Is your little one getting enough sleep? (Are you getting enough?!) Are they getting too much sleep? If your little one is having a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking throughout the night for older little ones, the amount of sleep they get in 24 hours should be considered. Here are some great tips while keeping in mind that every little one is different!
A lot of the time, just by a parent tells me about their little one's behavior around bedtime, I can tell them that they are overtired & not getting adequate sleep.
Signs that your little one is overtired are:
Difficulty falling asleep
Frequent night wakings
Waking early in the morning
What can you do to prevent it? Watch for your child's sleep cues! If they are already rubbing their eyes & fussy, you know they have passed into an overtired phase. We want to be able to catch them in just the right moment before they get to that point.
How many of you have been up late & felt tired to then, 20 minutes later, feeling extremely awake? This is all about our bodies release of hormones. If you pass that optimal time to put your little one down for a nap or for bed, then their bodies will release more cortisol & the adrenaline to wake them up. I have a lot of families who tell me they put their little one in bed, but he just doesn't seem tired at 11 pm at night. Overtiredness is the answer because of how our bodies work & react to being tired.
Time Spent Awake
Another clue is to watch the amount of time they spend awake between naps. We want to be sure that it is evenly spread out throughout the day & they don't spend too much time awake - especially before bedtime. This always goes back to prevent them from getting overtired.
If you would like help or a few more pointers, I would love to chat! Request to book a FREE 15-minute call with me ---> here!