Your baby’s sleep patterns will change dramatically over the first 12 months of their life. It’s important to understand how and why some of these changes are occurring and to manage yourself and your baby accordingly.

Changing sleep patterns

In the first few months of a baby’s life they will sleep from between two to four hours before waking for a feed. This pattern continues until between three and six months when your baby’s sleeps can stretch out up to six hours – a welcome change for tired parents!

Once your baby starts to split their sleep up into fewer, longer stretches, it’s good practice to start a routine. Whether you use a pre-sleep massage, songs, books, a rocking chair or a feed, your baby will start to take these as signals that it’s time to settle.

How much your baby sleeps

Babies’ sleep patterns change for a variety of reasons: their stomachs grow so they need fewer feeds; their brains develop so that they are more easily stimulated; and they become more and more attached to you and might get disrupted by seeking out your attention.

Over the course of your baby’s first 12 months, their sleep patterns will change accordingly:

  • Newborns – young babies can sleep from anywhere between eight and 18 hours a day. They will usually settle after a feed, but will wake at any time – day or night – that they are hungry.
  • Three to six months – total sleep will come down to around 15 hours a day, but the majority of this can start to occur at night with shorter sleeps throughout the day.
  • Six to 12 months – older babies will start to sleep mostly during the night, with total hours spent sleeping coming down to 12 hours per day. Teething discomfort around this age can make it hard for babies to settle or stay asleep.