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All About Baby Sleep Needs - The Highs & The Lows

Do you know if your little one is getting the sleep they need?


Every human being, babies to adults, is different with a range of different needs, this includes sleep needs.


We often hear how much sleep babies should be getting during the day and overnight but it’s important to think about your baby and child’s total sleep in a 24 hour period.


There isn’t any actual scientific research and evidence to support specific sleep totals because each baby is different. However, studies have been conducted to understand the sleep patterns and requirements of babies and infants to develop age appropriate sleep total ranges.


Average age appropriate sleep needs are a guide and there can be a huge range within this guide, but then there are also babies that have higher sleep needs and lower sleep needs.


It can be really hard to know and figure out exactly how much sleep your baby needs, however there are some things to help you:


Mood

Your baby’s mood is the best indicator of whether they are getting enough sleep for their individual needs. Overtired babies are not happy babies! If your baby is happy, content and generally calm during their awake time, they are likely getting the sleep they need.


Rhythm

Let your baby do their own thing for a couple of days, let them sleep as little or as much as they like, on their own. How much sleep are they having during the day and overnight? Are they happy or unhappy?


Temperament

Your baby’s temperament can have a BIG role on their sleep needs. Easy going babies tend to fit in the average sleep needs range, whereas Slow to Warm and Sensitive babies can be on completely opposite ends of the sleep needs spectrum, ranging from low sleep needs to high sleep needs.


Low Sleep Needs

Some signs that your bub might be on the lower end of sleep needs include:

  • Regular catnapping, despite all of your efforts to resettle and help them to independently link sleep cycles.

  • Wakefulness overnight, particularly if they can self settle. This can be a sign they’re having too much day sleep.

  • Early rising, especially if they’re not cold or there are no external factors waking them (light, noise). This too can be a sign they’re having too much day sleep.

  • Difficult to settle for naps and bedtime, they may not be having enough awake time.

  • Happy during their awake time, even when having less than the “average” sleep.


So, how do you make changes for your low sleep needs bub?

  • Keep a diary and work out how much sleep your bub is having over the day and night.

  • Consider capping back their day sleep, you can do this in 15 minute increments.

  • Increase their awake times. Keep in mind awake times are a guide, it’s ok if your bub is outside of the “average”.


High Sleep Needs

Some signs that your bub might be on the higher end of sleep needs include:

  • Unhappy in their awake time because they are tired.

  • Falling asleep very quickly.

  • Early rising because they are overtired.

  • Showing tired signs before their usual sleep time or before the end of their awake time.

  • Fighting settling because they’re overtired and cortisol (the stress hormone) is coursing through their body.

  • False starts and frequent overnight wakes.

  • Seems to want more sleep or regularly needs to be woken from sleep.


So, how do you make changes for your high sleep needs bub?

  • Take 3-5 days of assisted naps to help bub reduce their sleep debt and get back on track.

  • If bub wakes early from a nap, try extending their nap by contact napping, in the pram/car or baby carrier.

  • Bring bedtime forward temporarily until everything evens back out.

  • Do an overhaul of their routine, sleep environment and sleep hygiene.

Age

Recommended Sleep

May Be Appropriate

Not Recommended

Newborns

0-3 Months

14 to 17 hours

Low: 11 to 13 hours

High: 18 to 19 hours

More than 19 hours

Infants

4-11 Months

12 to 15 hours

Low: 10 to 11 hours

High: 15 to 19 hours

More than 18 hours

Toddlers

1-2 Years

11 to 14 hours

Low: 9 to 10 hours

High: 15 to 16 hours

Less than 9 hours

More than 16 hours

Preschoolers

3-5 Years

10 to 13 hours

Low: 8 to 9 hours

High: 14 hours

Less than 8 hours

More than 14 hours


Need some help working out your little one’s sleep needs?

Reach out for a 1:1 consult and we’ll figure it out together and set you up for sleep success for years to come.


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