One of the most common questions we get from parents is ‘How much sleep does my baby need?’. And the answer? Well, it depends!
The amount of sleep your baby needs, and the number of naps they take each day, are mainly influenced by their age and their individual sleep needs. The amount of sleep your baby needs will fall into a general range for their age group, but this range can vary quite widely as some babies need more or less sleep than average.
In this guide we’re going to explore the characteristics of low sleep needs babies and high sleep needs babies, and how this influences their nap schedule and overall sleep needs.
All babies NEED sleep and a predictable rhythm to their day and night time sleep can be hugely beneficial. There is a lot we can do to support our babies to get the best sleep they can, but we can’t make them take more or less sleep than they need.
Some babies naturally need more or less sleep than others and fit the description of either a ‘low sleep needs baby’ or a ‘high sleep needs baby’. But how can you tell if your baby fall into one of these categories?
How do you know if your baby has low sleep needs?
Do some babies just need less sleep than others? Yes! How can you tell if your baby is one of these babies?
A low sleep needs baby will tend to:
– Have shorter naps and wake up happily rested even if they haven’t napped for long.
– Be able to stay awake for longer, without becoming fussy or overtired, than other babies of the same age.
– Sleep less overnight, but still be well rested in the morning.
– Have less overall sleep (naps and night time combined) than average.
We need to look at these signs in context for how your baby is feeling and acting overall. Some babies take short naps, wake early in the morning or sleep less than average because they simply need less sleep than others. Other babies might follow these same sleep patterns BUT aren’t content and well rested, in which case they may need some tweaks to their scheduled and sleep habits to help them get into a routine that works for them.
How do you know if your baby has high sleep needs?
At the other end of the spectrum are high sleep needs babies – how can you tell if your baby is high sleep needs?
– High sleep needs babies often take longer naps, ranging from 1 to 2 hours or more. One nap of the day might be particularly long, or every nap they take may be on the longer side.
– They might go through nap transitions later than other babies and toddlers. They may drop naps when they are a little older and also take longer to phase out a nap completely.
– Wake times tend to be shorter: They might not be able to stay awake for as long between sleeps, and can become fussy and irritable if they are awake for longer than they want to be!
– They sleep for longer overall: We’re ending on the most obvious sign here! High sleep needs babies simply require more sleep to feel well rested and refreshed. Over a 24 hour period, their naps and night time sleep combined are longer than other babies in the same age group.
So, we now know that some babies needs more or less sleep than others, and we know how to spot the signs of high vs low sleep needs….so what next?
Simply understanding that each baby is different can take away some of the stress and confusion that might be surrounding your baby’s sleep. If you’re trying to follow a sleep schedule that isn’t right for your baby, then naps can feel like a daily battle and nights can feel challenging and, well, tiresome!
How do I find the right sleep schedule for my baby?
Don’t be afraid to make changes to timings for naps and bedtime. You can move naps earlier or later, starting with small changes, and see how your baby responds. It can take some experimenting to find the right balance for your little ones current sleep needs.
If you feel like you’re struggling with your little ones sleep, then we are here to help! Our online sleep courses include suggested schedules for every age & stage and guide you through how to create a routine that works for your baby’s current sleep needs. The key to finding a routine that works for your baby, is understanding their needs and how you can support them to get the sleep they need. Check out the courses and we’ll show you how…