Baby Sleep Timing

~ By Ashley Low

It’s midnight and you’re awake. It’s not because you want to be. It’s because your baby is crying – again. While you’re in desperate need of a good night’s sleep, your new little one seems to prefer resting during the day and staying up all night long. Understanding baby sleep timing and what to expect of your child’s day-night schedule can help you to better plan ahead and make sure that everyone’s getting enough rest!

How Much Should Babies Sleep?

The specific hour amount of sleep that your baby needs varies by age. Keep in mind, sleep numbers are the total per 24 hours. It’s not likely that your infant will get all of the hours in during the night. Sleep is spread between night-time rest and daytime naps. In general, newborns up to 3-months should get between 14 and 17 hours of sleep, babies 4 to 11 months should get between 12 and 15 hours, and toddlers between 12 months and 2 years should get 11 to 14 hours of sleep.

How Many Naps Do Babies Take?

Naps are a major part of understanding sleep timing. Knowing how much (and when) your baby sleeps during the day is key for your night-time expectations. Obviously, the more your baby rests during the daylight hours, the less time she’ll stay asleep at night. Newborns may take anywhere from two to four naps a day. These could be two hour naps, or could be longer four-hour rest periods. As your baby reaches the half-year mark, she’ll need less naps and may take two or three during the day. By 9 months the total nap number is likely to drop to two per day (a morning and an afternoon nap).

When Do Babies Sleep?

When it comes down to it – whenever they want to. Keeping your baby awake so that her sleep is timed to your schedule may not help your situation. Instead, it may make her overly-tired and fussy. Unless your baby’s schedule is way out of whack (such as she isn’t sleeping at all through the night), it’s okay to let her take naps when she’s ready for them. That said, it’s likely that she’ll sleep at roughly the same time every day. She’ll get used to a ‘bedtime’, and that will dictate when and for how long eh naps during the day. The earlier she goes to bed, the earlier she’ll wake up (but, you already knew that).

When Can I Sleep?

Baby’s off-beat sleep timing often puts a new mum’s rest at the end of a long list of things to do. You’re spending the night up with baby, and you’re exhausted during the day. Luckily (or at the very least, hopefully) your baby is still napping during the day. You could use this time to clean the house or take a shower. You also could use this time to take your own nap too.

Should You Ever Wake a Sleeping Baby?

In general, this isn’t necessary. But, if your baby has complete confusion about the day-night cycle (newborns sometimes have trouble adjusting to this) or your baby is napping for excessively long times, you can wake her up to encourage a more even sleep schedule. Also, if the last nap of the day is getting too close to bedtime waking your baby up can help make night sleep more consistent.

What About My Photo Shoot?

Your baby’s sleep schedule is a major factor when choosing a time for your photo shoot. While waking her up to get her back on track or to help her understand the day-night cycle can be helpful, doing so for your picture-taking moment won’t make life easier. A tired baby is a cranky baby. With that in mind, schedule your shoot after naptime – when she is well-rested. Try to keep her schedule as normal as possible for a few days before your appointment. This helps you to avoid a sudden change in her sleep timing, which may result in a shift in naps.

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