Baby sleep and night wakings

How long will my baby sleep? How often will s/he wake? Can I expect more than two hours sleep at a time with a newborn?

The short answer is that it depends on your baby. For the long answer, here is some information from a systematic review article by Galland, Taylor, Elder, and Herbison (2012). Click here for the article. The findings are based on diary and observational studies completed on babies, toddlers, and children with no diagnosed sleep disorders from a range of countries.

Night wakings: How often will my baby wake?

  • Some parents get lucky – their babies have no night wakings from birth – that is definitely the exception not the rule.
  • For most parents night-wakings will be the norm until the baby is at least a year old but the frequency should decrease.
  • The frequency of night wakings decreases rapidly in the first 6 months but can continue through to 2 years of age (and beyond – though data collection for night wakings stopped at 2 years).

Longest baby sleep period: Can I expect more than 2 hours uninterrupted sleep with a newborn?

  • It depends on your baby
  • By 5 months of age the longest average sleep period is just under 6 hours, but can be as short as 2 or as long as 10 hours
  • The longest sleep period continues to lengthen throughout the first two years, with the most rapid increases in the first 6 months of age
  • Whether your baby wakes you at the end of each sleep period is another question and is not addressed by this study

Total length of sleep per 24 hours: How long will my baby sleep?

Baby sleep duration graph. Total sleep per 24 hours from birth to 12 years.

  • The total sleep for 95% of babies and children is expected to fall between the grey dotted lines in Figure 1
  • The normal total sleep range is much larger for infants than for toddlers and children

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For further infromation on night-wakings, and particularly self settling see the following posts:

Baby sleep routine: What to Expect

Baby sleep (or lack of): Episode 1 of the Practical Research Parenting Podcast

Reference

Galland, B. C., Taylor, B. J., Elder, D. E., & Herbison, P. (2012). Normal sleep patterns in infants and children: A systematic review of observational studies. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 16(3), 213-222.

 

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