How much sleep do you ACTUALLY need? (For napping babies and kids)

Jul 01, 2020

Contrary to conventional wisdom, which extols the virtues of burning the midnight oil - AND waking up early, the truth is that we need sleep.

And, boy, do we need a LOT of it.

Why Hashem created us like this, I don’t know, but to keep our bodies healthy and whole, we need to spend somewhere between ¾ and ⅓ of our days sleeping (depending on our age).

Buuut… how much? Because our babies sleep needs change a lot as they grow through their first few years of life, it can be difficult to know what your baby actually needs - and if he “doesn’t need to sleep” or… if something’s preventing him from getting the sleep he truly does need.

So how much sleep do your napping babies and little kids need (for real)?

Your Newborn (0-13 weeks)

The average range: 16-19 hours in a 24 hour period

Splitting the total sleep need into daytime and nighttime sleep: sporadic. You should start to see some regularity with nighttime sleep around the 6 week mark, when the circadian cycle  develops, but you can still expect about 2 wakes until your baby is closer to 3-4 months.

It’s a LOT. Yep. It’s really a lot.

And your baby really does need all of that sleep (even though a pediatric nurse at the practice my girls were in at the time told me that it was “normal” that they were up for 6 hours at a time… *ahem* that’s for a different time.)

If your newborn is NOT getting that much sleep… that’s likely because he’s overtired. Not because he just doesn’t need it (and this truth applies to babies of all ages). 

But don’t expect to sleep through the night even though your baby will be getting hours upon hours of sleep: because that’s all going to be sprinkled throughout the day.

Even your baby’s “nighttime sleep” will be significantly broken up, until nighttime sleep consolidates around 3 months.

Your Young Infant (3-5 months)

The average range: 14-18 hours in a 24 hour period

Daytime sleep: 3-5 hours

Nighttime sleep: 11-13 hours

Babies this age have already developed the neurological capability (because sleep is controlled by the brain!) to consolidate their nighttime sleep. Translation for you: “consolidate their nighttime sleep” means that they are able to sleep for longer stretches at a time at night, linking more and more sleep cycles at a time.

What that means for you is that your baby is capable of sleeping for 12 hours at night, waking only 1, 2 or ZERO times. (Yes, for real. And, even if your baby isn’t doing that, that doesn’t mean she can’t!)

Some babies need as much as 13 hours of nighttime sleep, and some only need 11 hours of nighttime sleep, but those are the “outliers” and I would always pull out all stops to get a baby to do 12 hours before resigning yourself to an 11 hour night.

At this age, babies haven’t yet consolidated their daytime sleep, so naps may still be kinda all over the map in length, though the total sleep from all naps combined should equal 3-5 hours, and awake time limits will still be short.

Of course, the younger your baby is, the more sleep they’re likely to need, and I wouldn’t aim for 3 hours of total sleep until your baby is closer to 5.5-6 months old.

Your Older Infant (6-13 months)

The average range: 14-16 hours in a 24 hour period

Daytime sleep: 3.5-1.5 hours

Nighttime sleep: ~12 hours

By this point, your baby is definitely capable of sleeping 12 uninterrupted hours of sleep at night, and you should also see a consolidation of daytime sleep: moving to longer awake time limits and a 2-nap day.

Some babies during this age range are ready for a 1 nap day, though usually that transition happens around 14 months.

As with younger babies, if your baby is in this age range and is not getting the sleep he should be getting, rather than resigning yourself to it, the first question I’d ask is: Why? And the second question: And how can we change that?

Your Taby/Toddler (14-36 months)

The average range: 13-15 hours in a 24 hour period

Daytime sleep: 1-3 hours

Nighttime sleep: ~12 hours

As mentioned above, most babies transition to a 1-nap day at around 14 months, but that usually doesn’t mean a reduction in the amount of sleep they get overall. When those two naps merge into one, they should be about 2.5-3 hours in total in the beginning, and then slowly taper off to be shorter as your baby turns into a toddler and needs less sleep.

While most children aren’t ready for only 12 hours of sleep, and 12 uninterrupted hours of awake time until closer to 3 years of age, there are the few 2.5 year olds that do make the transition earlier. (Read more about the transition HERE)

And so, as your child grows older and older, her sleep needs will become shorter and shorter… but no, they definitely don’t disappear altogether! Next up: Sleep needs for NON-naping humans :)


If your baby is between 4 and 20 months and isn’t getting the sleep she needs, but you don’t know what to do differently to help her, then KinderWink Academy has just what you’re looking for.  Based on the KinderWink method, which was crafted specifically for frum families, KinderWink Academy has everything you need to 

  • Understand what is stopping your baby from getting the sleep she needs (so you can remove those blocks!)
  • Create a simple, solid, gentle plan of action that will give you what you need to keep on track.
  • See the WHOLE picture when enabling your baby to sleep well, so you know you’re taking everything into account.

To see more about KinderWink Academy, or to sign up, click HERE.

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