How Much Should Babies Sleep?

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How much they should sleep children and young people in different age groups?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has developed guidelines relating to ideal sleep duration for children and teenagers from 1 month to 18 years.


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In this article

  • 1-3 months
  • 4 months - 1 year
  • 1 2-years
  • 3 6-years
  • 6 12-years
  • 13 18-years
  • Why babies need to sleep early

1-3 months

The newborn should sleep between 18 and 20 hours during this period.

The newborn respects the rhythms not marked by the setting and rising of the sun, but simply by the needs he feels. Very often wakes up crying and the cause is not always hunger, therefore, before feeding him, it would be advisable to try to understand what kind of discomfort the little one is experiencing and try to solve it.


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4 months - 1 year

Between 4 months and 1 year of age, 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day are recommended.

At this age, babies should sleep between 12 and 16 hours, spaced out irregularly (sleep periods can last a few minutes, as well as several hours). Generally, babies up to 12 months sleep without problems, but it can also happen that some have difficulties. If the baby cries at night, it is best to approach calmly and calm him down with a light massage. It is advisable to always keep the lights dim and the tone of the voice low.


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1 2-years

Between 1 and 2 years of age, babies need about 11-14 hours of sleep each day.

This is not always taken for granted: in fact, around 12 months, babies may have difficulty sleeping. This behavior is caused by separation anxiety which occurs when the baby feels a feeling of discomfort when the mother goes away: it is important to reassure him.

Avoid making your baby tired in the hours before falling asleep, as this can lead to increased levels of adrenaline, a hormone that hinders sleep. 

Read also: 10 ideas to get your baby used to sleep from 0 to 4 months

3 6-years

In preschool age, the child should sleep 10 to 13 hours a day.

It is appropriate put the baby to bed at fixed times and always wake him up at the same time, even on weekends. Also, never associate sleep with punishment, never say "if you're not good I'll put you to bed". 

6 12-years

At school age, the child should sleep 9-12 hours a day.

With the arrival in the first grade, even children who have always slept well may have some difficulty falling asleep, due to the anxiety of change. This is a transitory phase, which stabilizes in a short time. It is very important that the child does not have a TV or computer in the room.

13 18-years

It is the period of adolescence, during which it is necessary to sleep about 8-10 hours a day.

Teens do not fall asleep before 23pm. In fact, hormonal changes that occur in their bodies alter the sleep-wake rhythm, so teens tend to fall asleep afterwards. To give them balance, pay attention to coffee, alcohol, smoking. Better to avoid loud music, the computer, studying just before bed.

What to do if the baby does not want to sleep?

The approaches proposed to solve this problem can be very different: 

  • Let the baby cry for increasing times (so-called Estivill method)
  • Pick up the baby and cuddle him
  • For some, the solution is to put the child in Latvian: a strategy practiced by many parents (even if they may refuse to admit it), supported by some experts, but strongly discouraged by others.

Why babies need to sleep early

Regular sleep and the right hours of sleep are important for a child's balanced and peaceful development.

Getting the right amount of sleep is important as it helps keep behavior problems and being overweight at bay. 

Those who sleep little are more at risk of behavioral disturbances.

Early childhood is a critical period for brain development and sleep has a huge impact on development. A study conducted on over 10 children by Yvonne Kelly of University College London, in the journal Pediatrics, observed the times at which children went to bed at three stages of childhood, namely at 3, 5 and 7 years. 'found that, at all these ages, go to sleeping at irregular times is linked to behavioral difficulties.

A general consideration on sleeping methods

The one presented in this article is one of the many approaches or methods proposed by experts, mothers, nannies and so on to "help" the baby to sleep. The advice on the subject - certainly one of the hottest for moms and dads - is practically endless, but it is worth making some general considerations. 


To begin with, it should be considered that the nocturnal awakenings of children are physiological up to 3-5 years. Of course, there is someone who from an early age hardly ever wakes up during the night but it is quite "normal" that others take longer to regularize their sleep. Secondly, it must be said that generally these methods do not have a solid scientific basis, in the sense that they have not been subjected to rigorous studies that can confirm or not their efficacy and safety. Furthermore, some can be a source of great stress for children or parents. And if they are "one-size-fits-all" methods, they clearly do not respect the individuality of either children or adults. 


What to do then? First of all, try to have more confidence in your own skills as parents and, if you wish, rely on a method not because a friend said so or because it is fashionable, but because the family has assessed that, given the characteristics of a child and parents, could be a good attempt to improve everyone's sleep quality.


As * Franco Panizon, Del Paesena's master of pediatrics, pointed out, "I have always told mothers to ask me that there is no evidence either for or against one method over another. Everyone is at least authorized to go where it takes them. the heart: to ask oneself (and not a science of behavior) how to behave, without repentance and without fear of condemnation. (* from the Book of the bed by A. Ferrando, LSWR 2022 Editions)

text by Valentina Murelli

Read also: 10 tips for a baby's sleep

Questions and answers

How to get the baby used to sleep early?

Children should always sleep, from a very young age, in dim light or in the dark and in a quiet environment, so no TV on or other background noise. The room temperature is also important; it must not be cold, but not too hot.

Why do babies have to go to bed early?

It is precisely for the health of children that going to bed early is important: according to an Australian study, families whose children go to bed before 20.30 enjoy better mental health resulting from the serene and peaceful atmosphere at home. .

How long should children between 1 and 2 years sleep?

Between 1 and 2 years of age, babies need about 11-14 hours of sleep each day.

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