“Is my baby’s sleep normal?”
I feel like this is a very common question for new moms.
The #1 thing all moms ever want from their babies is for them to sleep. Most kids don’t seem to listen though…
So what is normal?
That is all dependent on what age your baby is!
Newborn (0-6 weeks)
Waking up frequently?
Normal! Newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours. So therefore, they are often waking up. A newborn’s stomach is about the size of a marble when first born, so it fills quickly and then empties quickly too.
Normal! During the first 6 weeks, a baby should never be up for more than 3 hours MAX. More often than not, it shouldn’t be for more than an hour or two. If a baby gets OVER tired, often the child becomes even more cranky and then has a harder time sleeping.
Not having a schedule?
Normal! Babies are VERY unpredictable at this age. Please please PLEASE do yourself a favor and do NOT try to implement any sort of sleeping schedule. It is all about “on demand” at this age. Let them sleep when they’re tired, be awake when they aren’t, and eat when they’re hungry. This may be exhausting, but it is far less exhausting than trying to force a baby to sleep when they just aren’t ready to.
Not sleeping through the night?
Normal! First off, when you read “sleeping through the night” in any book, they are referring to 5 straight hours, NOT 8 hours. Second, like I mentioned, babies need to eat a lot and OFTEN! Unfortunately, that means not sleeping through the night, usually not even for 5 straight hours.
If your baby really struggles to fall asleep though, check out my post on 5 Ways to Soothe a Crying Newborn to help you out.
Staying up at night?
Also normal! Babies at this age don’t usually eat and then go right back to sleep at night. They are often up for an hour or two during the night as well after eating. Think about when you most often felt your baby moving while you were pregnant. It was when you stopped moving, right? Especially when you lied down to sleep? Yup! Your baby comes out slightly nocturnal.
The key to overcoming this is to make sure your baby isn’t sleeping longer than 3 hours straight during the day, and then at night, keep it dark and keep the stimuli minimal. Eventually, your baby will figure out that it just isn’t fun to be up, and start to self regulate. That takes a few weeks though.
Staying up late?
Normal! Newborns don’t usually go to bed “for the night” until 10 or 11pm. This is usually the time when they will sleep for the longest stretch too, so go to bed at this time yourself!
Staying up for long periods of time?
Not normal. At this age, babies need to sleep very often. They are usually asleep anywhere from 16-18 hours in a 24 hour period. They NEED to sleep this much. If your newborn is staying up 4, 5, or more hours at a time in between sleeping, and he is doing this consistently, talk to your pediatrician.
6 weeks-4 months
Go to bed earlier?
Normal! Babies start to develop a “schedule” (I use that term VERY loosely) around this age and then start going to bed between 6 and 8pm. Unless you have a schedule that demands it, don’t let your baby go to sleep for the night before 6pm though. That will result in a super early wake up time.
Sleeping habits change?
Normal! At 4 months babies experience their first major sleep regression. At this age sleep permanently changes. Even if your baby was sleeping through the night, it is very possible that that will stop. With all of the brain growth taking place, you will have to seriously shift your strategies to get your baby to sleep again. If you haven’t started good sleeping habits, now is the time to start. Helping your baby to self soothe is extremely important.
Go to one nap?
Not normal. A baby in this age range still needs anywhere from 2-3 naps. They start to drop the third nap during this time, but they will still need 2 for quite a few more months. If your baby has tried to go down to 1 nap, please talk to your pediatrician.
Have difficulty sleeping at night again?
Normal! There are many sleep regressions that happen during this age range. The first one is around 8, 9, or 10 months of age. At this time there are so many new gross and fine motor skills being learned—like crawling and the pincer grasp—and other cognitive skills—like saying “mama”—that it becomes really hard for babies to “turn off” their brains at night.
Just keep working at it and try to continue sustaining the good habits that you have been creating, and it’ll pass.
Go to one nap?
Could be normal or not normal. This is dependent on when exactly it’s taking place. If this is happening during that 8, 9, or 10 month sleep regression, it’s not normal. Keep trying for that second nap because your baby needs it.
If this is taking place during the 12 month sleep regression though, it is POTENTIALLY normal. Usually babies need that second nap until closer to 15 or 18 months, but some babies really do just need less sleep. This regression could last a full month, and, along with the fact that the one year molars come in around this time, there are a lot of reasons why your baby may be on a sleep strike.
Try to force that second nap as much as possible, but if it just isn’t happening, it just isn’t happening. Play things by ear and at this age, you REALLY have to be flexible…in order to stay sane at least 😉
18 months-3+ years
Again, this is another “could be or couldn’t be” normal. At 18 months, your toddler really should be napping for at least an hour every day still. But by 3 years, the naps could start going away. Such as, nap 2-3 times per week as opposed to every day.
I actually had to stop my 3 year old from napping because he would nap for 2-3 hours and then be up until 11. THAT did NOT work for me, at all. I’m ready for bed by 8!
So I started to shorten his naps to about 1 1/2 hours, but he STILL wanted to stay up super late even with a shorter nap. Eventually we just cut out naps all together. This is still rough though since he stays up too late with a nap, but is a total crank most days without one.
I think it is dependent on what works for your family and for your toddler. Again, flexibility comes into play here, and I think that when you are transitioning to zero naps, you have to really incorporate many periods of quiet time. That way both you and your toddler get the break that you need throughout the day.
Is your baby’s sleep normal? Tell me what has worked for you and your child to get them (and you!) to sleep! And be sure to sign up for my FREE 5 Day Baby Sleep Course, which will give you all of the tips you’ll need to get a better night of sleep!
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