Sleep in Your Baby’s First Year

Babies sleep 11 to 17 hours a day in their first year. There’s lots of variation among babies, so it’s best to talk to your pediatrician about what’s normal and necessary for your infant. Most babies start sleeping through the night by 6 months of age. Learning tips to help your little one sleep well can help both you and baby get the rest you need.

How much will my baby sleep in the first year?

Your baby will sleep a lot during their first year of life — usually anywhere from 11 to 17 hours a day. But as new parents know all too well, this sleep is spread out into smaller chunks throughout the day and night, especially during your baby’s first few months. Nighttime sleep and naps all count toward your baby’s sleep total for each 24-hour period.

Why do babies sleep so much?

It’s normal and necessary for your baby to sleep a lot because they’re quickly growing and developing. They need the sleep to support all aspects of their physical and mental health.

If you’re worried your baby is sleeping too much, talk to your pediatrician. They’ll help you learn what’s normal for your baby and what may be a concern. For example, if your baby sleeps too much, they may have a cold or fever. Less commonly, too much sleepiness can be a sign of a medical condition (like congenital heart disease) that needs treatment. Your baby’s pediatrician will sort through any signs and symptoms and make sure your baby gets the care they need.

Baby sleep patterns aren’t an exact science, and every baby is different. But in general, babies have certain sleep habits because of how often they need to eat (spoiler alert: a lot).

Also, newborns can’t tell the difference between day and night. They need a bit of time to develop an internal 24-hour rhythm that tells them when they should be awake and when they should sleep. This is what adults know as a “circadian rhythm.” Be patient with your baby and yourself during this time.

How long should babies sleep?

Babies 4 to 12 months old should sleep 12 to 16 hours a day, including naps. Getting this much sleep supports your baby’s health and growth.

There aren’t official recommendations for babies younger than 4 months old. That’s because research hasn’t linked a certain amount of sleep to specific health benefits. Experts simply know that from birth to about 4 months, “normal” sleep is all across the board. What’s right for your baby may not be right for your friend’s baby. That’s why talking to your pediatrician is important as you navigate these early months (and beyond).

Newborn sleep schedule

For the first two months of your baby’s life, sleep will come in many short bursts between feedings. Your baby will sleep for about 30 minutes to three hours at a time. They’ll wake up for about two hours before going back to sleep.

Newborns wake up a lot because their tummies are tiny, and they get hungry not long after feeding. These short bursts of sleep and wakefulness are normal and an important part of your baby’s growth.

How often to feed a newborn

If you’re breastfeeding (chestfeeding), you should feed your baby every two to three hours. If you’re bottle-feeding, your baby can go a bit longer between feedings, typically three to four hours.

Should I wake my baby to feed?

Some experts recommend waking your baby to feed within two weeks of birth if they need to pick up some weight. In this case, you’d wake your baby every three to four hours for a feeding. Others suggest waking to feed during the first five to six weeks if your baby sleeps longer than five hours at a time.

Usually, babies younger than 6 months wake up every three to four hours because they’re hungry, so the question of whether to wake them (and lose precious rest yourself) may not be a concern. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about what’s right for your baby and whether you should wake them to feed. They’ll take into account your baby’s size and growth, as well as how often they’re feeding, peeing and pooping.


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When do babies sleep through the night?

Most babies start sleeping through the night by 6 months. This means they can sleep for five to six hours at a stretch without feeding. Some babies start sleeping longer even sooner, around 4 months.

It’s natural and common for babies to wake up throughout the night. Your baby may wake up once or twice or as often as six times. These patterns can change throughout your baby’s first year as they have what experts call sleep regression. You might know this better as your baby crying every hour of the night when just last week they snoozed soundly.

When your baby wakes up, they may need you to rock or hold them to soothe them back to sleep. Infants younger than 3 months rely on you to do this because they can’t yet regulate their emotions.

But after your baby is about 3 months old, you can begin to teach them to self-soothe. Babies who self-soothe can calm down with little or no help from you. This is a process that can take some time, but it helps your baby (and you) in the long run. It’s still important to check on your baby if they wake up and start crying to make sure their basic needs are met. Self-soothing won’t work for babies who are hungry, sick or have a dirty diaper.

How can I help my baby sleep?

Your baby needs good, quality sleep for their own sake — and for yours. If your baby doesn’t sleep, you don’t sleep (as if you needed a reminder). So, here are some tips to help keep your baby sleeping like…well, a baby:

  • Make a 20- to 30-minute bedtime routine. This can help your baby calm down and know it’s time for sleep. You can do things like give your baby a bath, sing a lullaby or read them a book. It’s a good idea to feed your baby at the start of their bedtime routine so they don’t rely on feeding to fall asleep.
  • Keep naps as part of your baby’s daytime routine. Don’t keep your baby up longer, thinking it’ll help them sleep better at night. It might seem like an exhausted baby would be ready to conk out fast at bedtime and sleep all night. Actually, the opposite is true. Your baby will become too tired (overtired) and have a hard time falling and staying asleep.
  • Help your baby develop an internal clock (circadian rhythm). You can do this by keeping them in bright or sunny spaces during the day and removing bright lights at night. When your baby wakes up at night for a feeding, try to avoid talking or playing. Keep the mood calm and quiet so your baby learns nighttime is for sleep, not activities.
  • Keep an eye on room temperature. Adjust your baby’s sleeping space to a comfortable temperature, generally 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 22 degrees Celsius).
  • Try different strategies for sleep training. This means teaching your baby to fall asleep on their own. Sleep training methods that work for one baby may not work for yours. And what worked for your baby a few months ago may fall hopelessly short now. It’s OK to experiment, change up your game and combine methods as needed to help your baby.
  • Give your baby plenty of attention while they’re awake. Holding your baby often, especially in the first few months, can help them feel calm and safe (which can translate to better sleep). This is a good chance for family and friends to step in and take a shift, too.

Babies with medical conditions may need help in other ways to get enough rest. It’s important to talk to your baby’s pediatrician about what they might need in their unique situation.

Where should my baby sleep?

Your baby should sleep in a bassinet or crib in your room or a separate room. As much as you love cuddling your baby, it’s never safe to let them sleep in your bed. Bed-sharing raises your baby’s risk of suffocation, strangulation and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a healthy baby. Always putting your baby to sleep on their back and taking other precautions can help your baby sleep safely. Don’t hesitate to ask your baby’s pediatrician if you have questions about safe sleep at different stages of your baby’s growth.


When should I seek medical help?

Talk to your pediatrician if your baby:

  • Seems extremely fussy and soothing isn’t working. They may have reflux or another issue that’s causing extended periods of crying (colic).
  • Has a difficult time waking up.
  • Seems uninterested in feeding.

You may wonder what’s normal and what’s a concern, especially if you’re a first-time parent. When in doubt, call your pediatrician and talk to them about what’s going on. There’s no question too small or “silly” when it comes to the care and well-being of your baby.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

As the days and nights all start to blur together, it can be hard to keep track of how many hours your baby is sleeping, or when. That’s OK. Sleep in your baby’s first year doesn’t have to follow strict rules or formulas. Every baby is different, but in general, they’ll sleep away at least half of each day during their first year. Keep in close contact with your pediatrician who can tell you what’s normal for your baby and how they’re developing.

Throughout this time, remember to take care of yourself, too. That can take many different forms. Accept help from others. Let the housecleaning wait (and don’t apologize for it). Skip a social outing when you really just yearn for a nap. This first year is a crucial time for you and your family to figure out a routine and get into a rhythm. Do whatever you can to enjoy moments with your baby and support their needs while trusting that all the little details will fall into place.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 06/15/2023.

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