Written by Dr. Harvey Karp.
Everyone knows that their new baby won't sleep a lot during the first weeks. But, the biggest new-parent misconception is that once the baby passes the first weeks, sleep gradually but, consistently improves. Not so fast! The reality, for many—if not most—babies, is a bit of a roller coaster with happy victories alternating with frustrating regressions!
Birth - 2 Months
Total Sleep: 14 to 18 hours a day. During the first months, babies sleep in bits and pieces, waking throughout the day to feed. In the early weeks, you can expect your little one to fuss from hunger 10-12 times a day. Your little sleepyhead will take lots of little naps (for up to 8 hours a day). The daytime cycle is 1-2 hours of awake time then 1-2 hours of napping. During the second month, if your baby's nap goes over 1.5-2 hours, it's not a bad idea to wake him for a feeding. Long naps mean less eating during the day, making babies hungrier at night. Your baby will drift on and off through the night, punctuated by occasional feedings. The longest stretch of Zzz's usually goes up to 4 hours in the first month and 4-8 hours by 2-months of age. White noise, swaddling and motion work wonders starting from day 1 to help babies sleep better and naturally.
2 - 4 Months
Total Sleep: 13-14 hours. The day starts a little earlier now. Most babies this age wake around 6am. Napping: Your baby will settle into 2-3 daily naps, totaling 4-8 hours of sleep. Nighttime sleep shifts a bit earlier, with your baby going down around 9pm. She'll also sleep longer, still waking for a feeding or two. Longest unbroken sleep is usually around 5-8 hours. Heads up: Look out for the 3-month sleep regression! It can suddenly appear, with your baby starting to wake up like a newborn—every few hours—and want to play or cuddle…and refusing to sleep alone. Also, at 2-3 months of age when swaddling is stopped, your baby may start to startle more, roll more and wake many times a night.
4 - 8 Months
Total Sleep: 12-14 hours a day. The day starts between 6-8am, depending on your baby, of course! Napping: 2-3 naps, totaling 3-5 hours a day.
Nighttime sleep starts around 7-9pm. Your baby may have an unbroken piece of sleep of 6-10 hours, which most anyone would call "sleeping through the night!"
Heads Up: Teething commonly starts between 4-6 months, but like everything, your baby may be earlier or later to the game. Gum pain can make your baby fussier and disrupt sleep. Loud, rumbly white noise can be very helpful to help your baby tune out distractions, both internal, like teething, and external, such as sudden noises.
8 - 12 Months
Total Sleep: 12-14 hours a day by the time she hits 8 months. The day starts around 6-7am. Napping: Still 2-3 a day. Nighttime sleep starts around 7-9pm now. Your baby's longest stretch is likely a glorious 7-10 hours at night!
Heads Up: This is when infants love to crawl…and even walk. They often wake up wanting to get out and motor around the room. This is a good time to introduce lovey or a small size blanket such as this our personalized mink blanket for comfort.
12 Months (Happy Birthday!!!)
Total Sleep: 12-14 hours in a full day’s cycle. The day starts at 6-7am. Napping: 2 naps, totaling 2-4 hours daily. Nighttime sleep usually starts earlier, with your baby hitting the hay between 7-9pm. Early enough for mom and dad to get some alone time! The longest sleeping stretch usually averages 7-10 hours at night.