September 20, 2016 Mary & Suzanne

The Sleep and Babies Series: Part 2

What is a ‘normal’ amount of sleep for babies?

Are you worried that your baby is not sleeping enough? Or does it seem like your baby might be sleeping too much? In our Sleep and Babies Series, we are dabbling in many of the questions and concerns that parents have related to sleep throughout baby’s first year. If you missed Part 1, here are the topics we are covering:

  • What is normal sleep for a baby and how do sleep states influence sleep?
  • Parent interviews about their experiences with common approaches to sleep.
  • Do you know your baby’s sensory personality? If not, we will give you some tips on how to find out.
  • What if baby’s sensory personality doesn’t match yours?

Parents of the baby who does not sleep all that well often feel that they are doing something wrong when they hear about a friend’s baby who sleeps through the night and takes long naps. While comparisons naturally point out differences, it is important to know that there are a number of commonly accepted ideas of how much time young babies actually sleep.

 What is ‘normal’ sleep for a baby?

There are some guidelines about how much your baby should be sleeping, but keep in mind that there is a wide range of normal. Some babies take long naps and sleep many consecutive hours at night, while others take many brief naps and wake frequently throughout the night. Here’s an example of the sleep patterns for a 0-3 month old baby: 


The 0-3 month old baby will sleep from fourteen to sixteen hours each twenty-four hour period. With her longest sleep at night, baby will have 3-8 naps per day, with nap duration being 15 minutes-2 hours each. The sleep/awake patterns change as baby grows up. If you are interested in learning about the entire 0-12 month sleep pattern progression, shoot us your email in the link below and you will have it immediately! We also discuss it in more detail in our book Baby S.O.S: Sleep Solutions Based on Your Baby’s Sensory Personality.

Sleep States

We all have phases of sleep that we go through each time we close our eyes to get some z’s. These sleep states directly influence the quality of our sleep and how easily we manage to wake up. Becoming familiar with the sleep cycles of your baby will provide key information on how to best support a little one who might be struggling with sleep.

Researchers have identified six different sleep and arousal states in the newborn baby. For the sake of keeping things ‘sleep’ focused today, here are some of the hints that let you know which phase of sleep your baby is in. Make sure to pay attention to the part that let’s you know when your baby is most likely to wake back up! 

Light sleep: This is the phase when baby is dreaming. You may see her eyelids moving as she dreams and she may make sucking movements on and off. Baby is likely to respond to sound, touch or movement by waking up. Moving baby while she is in this state will often cause her to wake up.

Deep sleep: Breathing appears regular and you will not see eye movements during this phase of sleep. Baby is limp, relaxed and has a delayed response to sounds, movement and touch, making it less likely for her to wake up.

The awake states are important to identify as well, letting you know when baby is leaning towards sleep, ready for play, or tipping towards upset. We talk about those more in our book too. 

Babies have their longest sleep periods at night, with cycles of light sleep for the first twenty minutes, followed by deep sleep. This cycle repeats itself every hour. This is super important to know because if you recall, babies are more easily awakened during light sleep. Keep this cycle in mind as you think about making that move from the car to the house within the first 20 minutes!


So as you become more mindful of your baby’s sleep patterns, take special note of her sleep states and how your family’s schedules match up with baby’s light sleep and deep sleep phases. Are there interruptions that might impact baby’s sleep cycle? How can you adjust your routines and the environment to support baby’s sleep?

While babies have their own sleep patterns, families have their own preferences and routines as well. In part 3 of our Sleep and Babies series, we share some special video clips of some of our clients, each with a different perspective on sleep. These parents share their individual preferences for how they approach the sleep issue as a family. You don’t want to miss this!



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