Baby Sleep: What is Normal?

White picket fence, green grass, and blue skies.

You’re so tired you forgot to put on underwear. There seems to be dried curry on your pants but that can’t POSSIBLY be right because you haven’t had Indian food in 2 weeks. Is that curry? Your baby just fell asleep in the car and you’re so desperate for a break that you’re going to just drive by your house and take a short jaunt to Canada. Because the minute you stop the car she’s going to wake up. And frankly if that happens you’re going to cry the ugly cry.

All the parenting books say the first year with a baby is spent in a haze of sleep deprivation caused by night feedings, teething, ear infections, etc. The other Moms in your playgroup look equally exhausted and your neighbor is still night-nursing her 5-year-old. So this is all normal. Right?

Is There Normal Baby Sleep?

In a word, yes.

For the first few weeks after birth, baby sleep may be all over the map. They may sleep so much you find yourself wondering why other new mommies seem so tired. Or they may never sleep for more than 45-minute windows leaving you wondering how you can possibly make it through one more night.

Most newborn babies are extra fussy for a few hours in the evening, often from 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM. This is known as the “witching hour.” Everybody is exhausted and you can’t even play “pass the cranky baby” because all the people you want to pass the baby to (grandparents, friends, etc.) are at home lounging on the couch thinking about how glad they are not to have a fussy newborn to deal with.

It’s a rough time for everybody and the fussiness and non-sleeping tends to peak at 6 weeks. That doesn’t mean you end up with an easy baby at the 7 week mark but things start to gradually get easier from that point on.

Somewhere between 2 to 6 months your baby will consolidate their naps. This means that instead of taking 4-5 tiny naps throughout the day they’ll take ~3 chunky (45+ minute) naps. However regardless of the configuration of their naps (many small vs. few longer) the total amount of time they spend napping and the total hours of sleep at night should be close to the targets outline in the chart below.

Baby Sleep: How Much, When, How Long

Age # Naps Duration of Naps Time Between Naps Bedtime Hrs of Sleep @ Night Total Hrs of Sleep per Day
Birth – 6 Weeks 4-8 15 minutes – 4 hours 45 min – 1 hour Variable but often late 9:00 – 11:00 PM 8-14 14-18 hours
6 Weeks – 3 Months 3-4 30 minutes – 2 hours 1 hour – 1 hour 45 minutes Variable but often late 8:00 – 11:00 PM 8-13 11-15 hours
3-6 Months 3 1-2 hours ~2 hours 8:00 – 10:00 PM 9-12 12-14 hours
6-9 Months 3 1-2 hours 2-3 hours 8:00 – 10:00 PM 9-12 12-14 hours
9-12 Months 2 1-2 hours ~3 hours 7:00 – 8:00 PM 10-12 12-14 hours
12-18 Months 1-2 1-2 hours 3 hours 7:00 – 8:00 PM 10-12 12-14 hours
18 Months – 3 Years 1 1-2 hours NA 7:00 – 8:00 PM 10-12 11-14 hours

Sources: Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, R. Ferber, M.D. & Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, M. Weissbluth, M.D.

Keep track of how much your baby is sleeping for a few days. If you’re somewhere close to the numbers in the chart you’re doing OK. If not, maybe it’s time to make a change.

Common Baby Sleep Problems

Baby is Awake Too Long

Use the chart as a guideline. If your baby is awake dramatically longer than what is indicated in the “time between naps” column, she is likely overtired. This is probably the #1 sleep problem that trips up parents with babies under 1. People think babies will simply fall asleep when they need sleep. It would be great if babies worked that way. It would also be great if babies were born knowing how to use the potty. Sadly neither of these is the case.

Baby is Not Getting Enough Sleep

Your baby should not be getting substantially less sleep than is indicated in the “Total Hrs per Day” column. I can’t tell you how often people try to convince me that their baby just doesn’t need that much sleep.


I’m not saying that helping babies get the sleep they need is easy. Nor am I saying that you should beat yourself up if you’re doing everything you possibly can and your baby isn’t quite getting as much sleep as you would like. But I AM saying that the chart gives you a pretty good idea of how much sleep your child needs. If you’re vastly off the mark, that’s OK. But let’s keep working towards these numbers as a goal.

Bedtime is Too Late

This is the #2 sleep problem people run into. Typically it is caused by two things. The first is that younger babies (under 6 months) tend to take naps late in the afternoon or early evening which means their bedtime is fairly late (9:00PM – 10:30PM). Whey they stop sleeping in the late afternoon their bedtime should be moved up closer to 7:00PM (parents forget this step and keep the original late bedtime). The second cause is that babies generally wake up far earlier than you would like to. Parents will do just about anything to try to get their baby to sleep past 6:00 AM and they often think that keeping them up later at night will do the trick. However generally keeping your baby up late just reduces the total amount of sleep they’re getting and leads to a chronically sleep-deprived baby.

No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap. ~Carrie Snow

Baby Doesn’t Nap at All

If your child is under 3 they almost always need to take a nap. I see parents all the time who have a 2 year old who doesn’t nap who will tell me about how “Little Timmy decided to stop napping just after his 2nd birthday.” Why did Little Timmy get a vote in this decision? Naps are your friend. Even if it seems inconvenient (especially if you have a non-napping older sibling) to maintain a consistent nap schedule with your 2-3 year old preschooler, this is something their little body needs (even if they don’t seem to WANT to do it). Two year old kids are challenging boundaries all day long and are likely to challenge naps as well. Don’t confuse this with a signal that they no longer need a nap.

Baby is Getting Too Much Sleep

I used to believe that there was no such thing as a kid who sleeps too much. In fact I always wanted to be the parent of one of these kids. But I’ve come to learn that some kids who sleep more than expected often have some underlying medical issue that leaves them unusually tired. This is REALLY rare, most often your kid is sleeping longer because you got lucky. If you’re worried, the most frequent causes of sleeping TOO much are sleep apnea and things like celiac disease that hinder your child’s ability to absorb nutrients. Both of which are totally manageable conditions. But if your baby is over 3 months old and seems to sleep far more than what is suggested in the chart, it’s probably time to talk to your pediatrician just make sure everything is OK.

This chart is pretty handy (she pats herself on back) so you may want to download and print out a copy to keep on your fridge for future reference.




  1. I don’t understand how to create a set bedtime and wake time. My 12 week old baby (born 3 weeks early so 9 weeks adjusted age) eats every 3 hours and naps great throughout the day, sleeping about 2 hours each nap. But his nightime sleep is inconsistent- anywhere from 4-6 hours and his wake time is different every morning depending on how many hours he slept through the night. So how do I have a set bedtime if every morning he wakes up at a different time so the 3 hour feed/wake/sleep cycles happens at different times every day…? I’m starting to wonder if his lack of a consistent set bedtime is causing his inconsistent nighttime sleep which is less than the 8+ hours you describe in your chart.

  2. Hi, my 9 month old has never slept through! Shes always been a nightmare to get to nap during the day and is a very light sleeper if she was to fall asleep in the day while out in her pram.

    She doesn’t have milk at night but will stir at least 3x a night, and will usually go straight back to sleep if I put her dummy in. But she has recently been sleeping 630/7pm, waking 630/7am cries out about 3x but goes straight back with dummy. Yet she wakes up tired and miserable every morning and has to be put back to bed withing an hour!! Is this normal? Thanks

  3. If my 15 week old sleeps 17 hours a day, is that too much? He does 12 at night and then 3-4 naps during the day for another 4-5 hours total.

    • My baby boy is the same! He’s just over 3 mo. old and is sleeping 12+ hours at night, plus at least 3 naps. So far, our Dr isn’t worried, because Baby’s healthy and chunky. It just seems like he needs way more sleep than my other kids ever did.

  4. Hi! Advice please –
    my 6 week old is a champ sleeper…once she gets to sleep. She occasionally sleeps through the night, but at least for 6 hours for her first stretch. When we’re home, she takes naps as outlined above. However, she HAS to nurse to sleep. This means when we’re out, she’s not car-napping or stroller-napping. We have to go upstairs to her room, rock in the chair, and nurse until she literally falls asleep with my nipple in her mouth. She naps in the swing and sleeps in her crib. I’ve tried letting the swing put her to sleep, and it’s occasionally worked when she’s very very tired (out most of the day, at the drs office, got a shot) but for the most part she starts squawking after 5ish minutes and is in a full-fledged cry after 10.
    I know she is still in the range of “do what works to get her to sleep,” but since staying asleep isn’t her problem, I’m wondering if there are some gentle tips I can try to encourage her to fall asleep without nursing (she doesn’t take a pacifier) so that the transition won’t be so jarring later on. Thanks!

  5. Hi my 7 week old is really fussy when it comes to naps . She sleeps really well at night 6-7 hours which I know is lucky as many mums tell me but in the day she gets to sleep but wakes her self up all the time she’s constantly fussy and rubbing her face until she’s awake or try’s to fight her sleep , seriously one eye open as if she’s going to miss something she’s so nosey the slightest light or sound will wake her instantly . Is that normal I think she sleeps so well at night as she’s shattered.

  6. Hello! Im a little confused about the numbers on the chart. It says that (for a t month old) there are 3 naps between 1-2 hours each, but then the total sleep is between 11-15 hours with the goal of nighttime sleep being 12 hours? Isn’t that 17 hours? Math has never been my thing, but am I missing something? We are having a hard time getting our little guy (5 months) to sleep all night. He takes 2 naps that range between 1.5-2 hours and a 1 hour evening catnap. Could too much daytime sleep be the culprit?

  7. Help, I have a six month little boy, read loads of information on your site which is fantastic by the way! My little boy is still a car sport and awake quite a bit during night! After reading your articles we got rid of dummy a few weeks ago, he is settling well on own with comforter, white noise and very dark room (settles on own) however still wakes after 30mins in day and up between the hours of 3-5 roughly then goes back on and off for about another hour then awake laid still staring around 6:30! I’m awake from the 3ish wake up as he cries and tries to go back but can’t?! We dream feed at 10/30 and has a big bottle before bed, isn’t starving at 7am when feed so don’t think hungry! Tried calpol, still up? What is going on?!! Any help greatly appreciated!!

  8. Alexis – you should update the downloadable sleep chart to say “Precious Little Sleep” instead of “Troublesome Tots.” I print it out all the time for friends and co-workers!

  9. I wonder if my baby is sleeping too much? His bedtime has always been 6-7pm, even though as a newborn that was his last nap. He sleeps from 6-7pm until 7am, with a 4:30 am feed. However, he fights going to bed or he’s usually too tired! By the time 7am rolls around, he’s in a deep sleep. I always have to wake him! We’ve had the same bath,lotion, bottle routine since 6 weeks. He’s now 5 months!

    Bedtime is always a struggle. He has no sleep props (weaned off swaddle and paci) and sleeps in his crib with white noise.

    He usually wakes at 8pm screaming.
    Should I adjust his bedtime? He’s either under tired or overtired by bedtime, then in a deep sleep by 7am!

    • Omg!!! I know this is an old reply, but you do NOT wake a baby when they are in a ‘deep sleep’. Especially not at 7 am. Let him sleep in the morning until he wakes up by himself. By waking a baby forcefully you are training them to be inflexible with their sleep (IE: they become used to the 7 am wake up that they no longer are able to sleep beyond that time, even when they desperately need it).

  10. Hello,
    I am having difficulty with my 6 month old and naps. We usually get a 1 – 1.5 hour nap in the morning (she falls asleep on her own in her rocker), but maybe only a 30 minute nap in the afternoon. I usually have to put her in her crib for the second nap, but she cries for about 15 minutes until she falls asleep. She then sleeps 11-12 hours at night with 1 – 2 wake ups (6:30 – 6:30 due to our work schedules) after we give her a bottle and put her to sleep awake. Are we putting her to bed too early? I would love a scheduled afternoon nap for her and for my sanity.

    Thanks, Kelly

  11. Love this article and chart

    My almost 7 month bit never has two nights the same… We’ve just moved to 4 hourly feeds and he’s consolidated naps well…1 3/4 hours in morning and afternoon and then 45mibs to hour in evening… We fight to keep him awake for a bath at 8.30-9… And then he goes down … Sleeps thru till 7 with one feed at 3-4 am….

    The problem is at night he can have me up every hour to give back a dummy or sleep right thru and wake only for feed (rare )… No two nights are the same…

    I don’t understand why each night can be so different with anything from 1 to 10 interventions?

    And about day naps… He can put himself to sleep quite well.

  12. Hi

    I’m confused by some of the advice but reassured to see most babies of newborn age are awake from 7-11 gping off the chart.

    I’m confused by the fact that you say they can only stay awake for 40mins. My 6 week old seems to sleep in the am and over lunch she feeds inbetween. Is this classed as awake time?

    She will then have a light nap early evening then be awake from from6/7 until 11pm/midnight which is obviously longer than 40 mins.

  13. Hi,

    You mention in your article that 2 year olds need a nap and it is not their decision to drop a nap. You did not mention though how to enforce a nap on a child who does not want to. I have a 2 year old ( 27 months). Who has been skipping his naps for about a month about 3-4 times a week. I leave him in his crib for an hour or so, he just doesn’t go to sleep and yells the whole time. Any advice on what I can do? We put him to bed between 7:30 and 8pm every night- he typically wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30. Even on days he wakes up at 5:30 he will skip his nap. We have a routine at both nap time and bedtime.


  14. Hi Alexis!
    My 5.5 week old son sleeps during the day for 3 hour chunks. He’ll wake to feed, be up for a bit, about an hour or so and then back to sleep. At night he sleeps for 2-3 hours before waking to eat and then seems to have his witching hour in the wee hours of the morning, from about 3am to 7:30am, which is ROUGH. And then he may sleep for 4-5 hours in the morning! His sleep during the day is great, he’s easy peasy, but night time is tough.
    At this point, are these 3 hour “naps” during the day too long? Is he too young to try to set some sort of schedule, because there is no pattern to his sleeping. Any suggestions are appreciated!

    • Ours is 2 weeks old and is the same, sleeps great mostly during the day 3-4 hours, but at night, after his first feed of the night, roughly 1am, he just wont go back to sleep until 4ish

      • That is because babies initially have their nights and days mixed up. When your baby is awake at night, try not to socialise. Keep them in their room, with the lights off and everything calm and dark. Make it as boring as possible for them, and attempt to use whatever method you need to in order to get them back to sleep. You want to teach them that night is for sleeping. Pair this with lots of social interaction and playtime during the day.

      • I had a similar issue with our newborn this June. He had days and nights mixed up. What I did was, after his first wake up in the morning, I would drag my butt out of bed (since you’re up all night it’s sooo tempting to sleep in with your baby) and take the baby into direct sunlight for around 30 mins. I took off his clothes so his skin would get exposed too. Within days his cycle improved. Another thing I did was limit late evening sunlight which he was getting lots of at first.

  15. My daughter gave up naps at 2.5 years (wah!). But we kept a “quiet time” in substitute. She had to stay in her room, or take a bath, for a blessed hour every day. She could do whatever she wanted as long as it didn’t require our energy or attention. We kept that up until she started kindergarten. 🙂

  16. My baby was preemie ( she came one month early) so do I still follow this chart based on her age or should I consider her sleep has been one month behind? For example, she is four months now so should my expectation be that she should be sleeping like a four-month-old or three-month-old because she was a preemie?

  17. My boy is now 11 weeks old, and sleeps very well at night (used many of your tips and they help wonderfully). My question is: the total hrs of sleep for his age is 11-15, but my boy easily does 12 at night. He goes down around 8:30-9:30pm, eats around 3-5 am but is still asleep for this (been doing more around 5 am with a full 8 hrs of sleep lately), and then is asleep still till 8:30-9:30 am if I am home. So if he’s getting 12 at night, he’s already in the total hrs per day. He does nap a little here and there, 10-20 mins and is hard to get to nap during the day. Occasionally, he will take a chunky 4 hr nap. Does he need more than 20 mins at a time of sleep during the day?

  18. My 3.5 month old takes three 35-45 minute naps a day (sometimes we can extend them but generally is hard to get him to sleep longer), possibly one more late catnap and then sleeps at night for 10-11 hours straight. He is usually asleep by 8:30pm. Recently he’s been resisting that last catnap so I think he might be ready to drop it and we can move up his bed time. But depending on how the day went, that might mean his last two feedings are too close together. He needs that last feeding to be big (he eats 8oz of formula usually), in order to sleep that long I think. But if he just had a feeding at 5pm, he probably won’t eat another full bottle again at 7/7:30pm. I’m struggling to fit in his five daily feedings, three naps, and still get him down for an early bedtime. Any advice? I should add that this is current feeding schedule: 6:45am 6oz breastmilk, 10/10:30am 5-7oz formula, 1/2pm 5-7oz formula, 4/5pm 5-7 oz formula, 7:45/8:15 7-8oz formula. Thanks!

  19. For the time between naps are you counting time feeding? My baby is breastfeeding and our feedings usually last at least a half hour by the time she eats and gets burped. If so, then this doesn’t leave a lot of time for being awake at all!

  20. My 16 month old was going to bed between 6:30 and 7. He also has recently switched to 1 nap. For the past few weeks he has been waking for the day at 4:30-5, sleeping straight through so 10hrs total. He has been resisting naps too, only getting about 45 min-1.5hrs per day. I think he is way overtired since he does go between super happy but also extreme temper tantrums. Others tell me 6:30 is too early for him to go to bed and that’s why he’s waking early. Should I do the really early bedtime for a while in case of over tiredness?

  21. Hi Alexis and admins! LOVE your site, FB group, podcast, etc. Clearly I’m a groupie but have a favor. Please update the chart to include wake time before bed for the different ages. For example, I know 6-9 months is 2-3 hour wake time, but it seems like many kiddos need 3.5/4 hours wake time before night sleep to make it all the way through. Please advise if this is true!

  22. I have almost 6 month old twins. Both have been generally sleeping 10-12 hours straight each night – well, they HAD been sleeping 10-12 hours each night. My son is awesome, no issues there. He goes to sleep between 6-7pm and will sleep until at least 5am. Perfect.

    My daughter on the other hand has regressed. She is still sleeping a solid 8 hours straight at night, but when she goes to sleep between 6-7pm, a 3am wake up call is unpleasant. I’ve tried, tried, tried to get her to take an early evening nap and then have bed time at 8 or 9 but she’s not having it. She’s super cranky, sometimes as early as 5:30pm. We have a very solid bedtime routine and she is always put down drowsy and puts herself to sleep.

    Help this mama!

    She also shares a room with her brother and I don’t want her to wake him, but I can’t let her cry it out so I feel like I’m reinforcing bad behavior by offering a bottle each time she wakes.

  23. I just have a quick question about wonder weeks and sleep. My 7 month old is an impressive sleeper (I have been following your instruction and shaping since he was about 8 weeks). He wakes between 6-6:30am, naps 2-3 times a day ranging from 1.5 to 3 hours and falls asleep independently for bedtime between 6:30-7pm. He is still using a pacifier and I just introduced a lovey a few weeks ago and he seems to have taken to that. So… here comes the fun part… He is crawling and sitting up (slow down little man!) and naturally thinks this is infinitely more entertaining than sleep. So, he has been waking between 12-2am for about 40 min or so before grabbing his lovey and putting himself back down. I do not go to him as he doesn’t cry out for anything and seems content. Is this ‘normal’ for this age? Should I go to him if he doesn’t cry?
    Thanks for any advice!

  24. Hello! I love this blog and have been obsessively googling lately- this is by far my favorite- thank you! I have a 15.5 week old. We’ve been *trying* to follow babywise. He sleeps great 50% of the time but has lots of off days. At around 10 weeks he started going from 8pm-3am and then back down until 6:45. At about 13.5 weeks his 1.5 hour naps turned into 45 minutes (then we go in and shush, give paci or rock if necessary to get him back to sleep). But what bothers me more is he always wakes up between 5-5:45 and more throughout the night too. I usually just feed him once but he wakes up at 12,4 and then 5. He gets put down for all sleep awake except sometimes in the motn. Here is his schedule:
    5-5:45- wake up (we do whatever we have to get him back to sleep- usually I hold him)
    6:30- wake up feed
    8- nap ( wake up 45 min in and we try to get him back down and this is every nap)
    9:30- eat
    11- nap and the usual
    12:30- eat
    2- nap
    3:30- eat
    5- nap but purposefully short until 5:30/6
    6-eat- bedtime routine
    7:30 bed

    I last feed him at 6- I tried waking him up at 9 and a dreamfeed but neither changed our night at all! Also the whole regression started when he was going to bed at 8:30 so moving up bedtime was one of our strategies. Sorry this is so long!

  25. My LO is 7 weeks, she has days where naps are not an issue, in fact she can nap for 4-5 hours each time. At night is a totally different story, bedtime routine is around 5:30 – 6pm, she will fall asleep for 4-5 hours, than wake up for feeding, and sleeps for another 4, wakes up to feed and will go to sleep for two hours and wakes up crying. I don’t know what to do anymore.

    • 4-5 hour stretches of sleep at seven weeks sounds totally awesome! Presumably as you posted 3.5 months ago, you have different problems now!

  26. Is it possible that my 3 month old is scared of my room? Reason I ask is because her crib is in my room and when we step foot into the room for our wind down routine, she instantly cries. I followed the recommendation to darken the room and have some kind of white noise but now I worry it’s too dark for her. I also have paintings up on my walls and worry those may be scary for her too. She’ll sleep for 25-40 minutes at a time but not normally longer. She naps at daycare no problem. I may be looking at it completely wrong but at a loss and would appreciate any help.

  27. Hi Alexis,

    I have a nit-picky question/point. (Sorry; I promise you I am truly a big fan!). You cite Ferber’s ‘Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems’ below the chart, but the hours of sleep in Ferber’s book are a lot less than in this chart. Did you get these numbers by averaging with Weissbluth (I haven’t read his book)?

    What is sort of behind my question is that I am mystified that the Ferber ‘typical sleep requirements’ are considerably less than I have seen on your site or anywhere else. Is he using different research than everyone else? I am also puzzled that a baby sleeping the appropriate length of time, as suggested by Ferber, would need to be kept awake way longer than is recommended on this site and others (Ferber himself never mentions awake times). I realize you probably can’t answer this, as you’re not Ferber!

    Thanks for the awesome site, podcasts and Facebook group.

    • Few thoughts:
      – There are multiple versions of this book (initially published decades ago it’s been rereleased and updated periodically) so we may be looking at different numbers
      – The numbers here are actually an amalgam based on the sources referenced in the two books
      – There are also different numbers put forth by the national sleep foundation which are themselves, an amalgam of numbers from a variety of studies
      – ALL “how much should your child sleep” numbers present a range because there is a huge range of normal sleep for younger babies. I can’t speak to Ferber specifically (read: I’m not going to go look at my copy and try to figure out which numbers you don’t like but I believe you when you say they’re lower than others) but know that there is no real definitive NUMBER. There are ranges that will vary based on geographical region (New Zealand babies sleep more than any others – fun fact!) and parenting choices (kids who fall asleep independently will sleep longer on average than those that don’t). So the TL:DR is – there is a range and unless your child is wildly outside of ANY of the ranges (yes there are multiple) it’s probably fine.

      • Thanks, Alexis. That’s helpful for my sanity. I get overly stressed by all the conflicting information out there. Sometimes I think raising a baby in the pre-Internet age would have been a lot less stressful!

        And just for info, I was looking at the 2006 edition of ‘Solve your Child’s Sleep Problems’, which I understand to be the most up to date. Ferber has children sleeping about an hour less that the minimum numbers given above.

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