It’s one of the questions we get asked the most: Is My Baby Getting Enough Sleep? The answer depends in large part on how old your baby is and the quality of their sleep… Is your baby having trouble falling asleep? Are they sleeping for long stretches without waking?
To help you keep your baby’s sleep on track, this article will answer some of the most common questions parents have about their baby’s sleep, including “Why is my baby taking short naps?” and “How many hours of sleep does my baby need?”
If you’re concerned that your baby isn’t getting enough sleep or maybe you think your baby is sleeping too much, get the most comprehensive view of your baby’s sleep by tracking with the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™. Take your free assessment today to get started!
Is My Baby Sleeping Enough?
The amount of sleep a baby needs changes as they age, but it’s safe to say babies sleep (and need to sleep) a lot more than adults.
Here’s a very brief rundown of how many hours a baby should get by age – keep in mind this is just an example and every baby is unique. If you have fundamental concerns about the amount of sleep your baby is getting it is always smart to consult your pediatrician.
Sleep Guidelines for Babies Newborn-2-Years-Old
For more precise wake windows suited to your baby’s age, check out these month-by-month baby sleep schedules.
Why Do Wake Windows Get Longer?
When your baby is born, their sleep schedule is very disorganized, they are growing rapidly and need to get use to life outside of the womb. All of that eating and ‘awake’ time takes its toll and as such, wake windows are short and newborns need to eat and sleep often.
As their circadian rhythm matures (around 16-weeks) sleep starts to consolidate and become more organized. Your baby is adjusting to life on the ‘outside’ and can be awake for longer periods of time.
As your baby ages, their sleeps consolidate more and more at night, which extends their wake windows and ultimately reduces the number of naps they need.
While this is a natural process, the act of falling asleep is a learned skill and your baby needs the space and time to practice it. Sleep training teaches your baby how to put themselves to sleep – a skill that guarantees they’ll take the lead on their sleep. For more on how to teach your baby to fall asleep independently, download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ .
What are Signs My Baby Isn’t Sleeping Enough?
While every baby is different, there are some tell-tale signs your baby isn’t getting the rest they need:
Fussiness or Crankiness: If your baby is fussier or easily frustrated than usual, especially at bedtime or naptime, they may not be getting enough sleep.
Frequent Night Wakings: Waking up over and over at night (and not for food) indicates your baby isn’t getting enough rest.
Early Wakeups: While babies naturally wake up early, a baby who isn’t getting the right amount of sleep for their age or who isn’t on a consistent sleep schedule may wake up earlier than usual.
Truncated Naps: Shorter naps are another symptom your baby need more rest.
Now, you may be thinking – “Why does a tired baby taking shorter naps? ” or “Why would a baby wake up at night if they’re not sleeping well?” The answer: circadian rhythms.
What are Baby’s Circadian Rhythms?
Every human has a circadian rhythm, including babies. Circadian rhythms are the internal “clocks” that regulate our sleep.
If your baby’s sleep schedule and circadian rhythm become misaligned, your baby can become overtired, which can lead to frequent night wakings, shorter naps and early wake ups – all that fun stuff.
Why is My Baby Taking Short Naps?
In addition to overtiredness, truncated, or short, naps may be a sign that your baby is ready for a nap transition. Nap transitions are when you drop a nap from your baby’s sleep schedule. For example, around 7-8 months, your baby will transition from 3 to 2 naps . Nap transitions often happen on their own. Symptoms your baby is nearing or going through a nap transition include:
- Shorter naps
- Waking up in the night
- Trouble falling asleep
- Resisting naps or bedtime
- Increased fussiness after a nap
- Your baby misses a nap and isn’t fussy
How Do I Calm My Baby Before Bed?
To calm your baby before bed, take them into their room, dim the lights, and speak in a low voice.
We also recommend creating a calming bedtime routine before bed – a set of soothing, actions, such as reading a story, cuddling, and/or taking a bath. The goal of bedtime routines is two-fold:
- The calm activities help put your baby in a relaxed mindset.
- The repetition of doing the routine every night will cue your baby that it’s time to go to bed.
Bedtime routines are a cornerstone in your sleep coaching journey. Learn how to set up your bedtime routine and get started by downloading the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™. This innovative app can improve your baby’s sleep in just 7-days.
Important Tip: Give your baby the space and time to learn how to fall asleep independently by placing them down when drowsy, but awake. In other words, they’re very tired but still alert. The goal with sleep coaching is to teach your baby to fall asleep independently. That means you cannot and should not rock them to sleep, cuddle them to sleep, or feed them to sleep.
Why Do Babies Need So Much Sleep?
Babies need sleep because sleep is when they grow physically and mentally helping them to meet their developmental milestones .
But sleeping well at night goes beyond being less fussy the next day: being a strong sleeper has long-term benefits, including improved learning and reduced obesity.
What If My Baby Has Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is an important part of your baby’s development. Yes, you read that correctly: separation anxiety is a natural and essential part of your baby’s growth.
Babies get separation anxiety when they realize objects and people, like you, continue to exist even when out of sight. This typically happens around 8 months and is often associated with the 8-month sleep regression .
Before this point, objects and people, including you, were out of sight, out of mind; now your baby understands you’ve gone somewhere else, and they wonder where. This creates a bit of separation anxiety.
If separation anxiety is interrupting your baby’s sleep, we suggest two things:
- Revisit or begin your sleep training journey: The routine and training can help “reset” – or set - your baby’s sleep habits. (To start sleep training today, download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™. With a little input from you, it will customize a sleep training program works for you and your unique little one.)
- Wait It Out: Babies have a natural ability to soothe themselves to sleep. If your baby wakes up night, it’s best to wait a moment to see if they are able to get themselves back to sleep.
And for more on separation anxiety in babies, read our piece How to Cope with Separation Anxiety in Babies .
Is My Baby Having a Sleep Regression?
Even with sleep training, your baby will periodically experience what are popularly known as “sleep regressions,” but we like to call them “sleep progressions.” That’s because “sleep regressions” coincide with major developmental milestones.
For example, your baby will experience their first sleep progression around 8 months, when they’re first learning to crawl.
Here are the most common months for baby sleep regressions:
- 4 months
- 8 months
- 12 months
- 18 months
- 24 months
You can learn more about coping with sleep regressions here .
How Do I Help My Baby Get Enough Sleep?
- Set the Scene: Your baby’s room should be dark, cool, and as quiet as possible. Read more about how to optimize your baby’s room for sleep here .
- Calming Bedtime Routines: Yes, we’re repeating ourselves, but, again, bedtime routines are such a powerful way to help your baby fall asleep faster both in the short and long term.
- Drowsy But Awake: It’s best to put your baby in their crib when they’re tired but still awake. This will help them learn how to fall asleep independently.
- Maintain Sleep Schedules: Babies sleep best when kept on a consistent schedule – their nap and bedtimes are all relatively the same each and every day, adjusted along the way as their wake windows extend.
- Reduce Screen Time: Studies show that smart phones and tablets emit a blue light that makes babies, and adults, feel more awake. Help your baby sleep better by taking any screens away from them at least one hour before bed.
“On sleep and development: recent advances and future directions,” Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development .
How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.