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How long should my baby be sleeping overnight?

The data below shows global and national average sleep requirements, based on age:

Newborns- 14-17 hours

4-11 Months- 12-16 hours

1-2 years- 11-14 hours 3-5 years- 10-13 hours

(QLD Health, 2019)

As you can see there is a huge variance in the expected total sleep duration in 24 hours, per age group. When we look at the ideal amount of sleep in 24 hours, the priority should be to allocate 11-12 hours of this total to night sleep. Night sleep is when major organs repair and thus hormones are primed for sleep in the dark hours of the day.

The role of day sleep is to create some plateaus in sleep pressure which otherwise steadily escalate throughout your baby’s day. Without naps, your baby will run out of energy and produce cortisol and adrenaline to get them through til the next sleep time. Unfortunately, higher than ideal cortisol levels leads to frequent night waking and/or early morning rising. These are the top two sleep problems currently facing my Instagram followers.

Where to start?

The best place to start is keeping a sleep log for 1 week. This can be in your phone notes, on the back of a bill or via an app such as Huckleberry. At the end of the week, look at your baby’s sleep total over the week. Take their average sleep total and now pull out 11-12 hours that we need baby to sleep at night to support mood, appetite regulation and healthy development. If your baby’s sleep total is a lot less than the expectations listed in the above table, your baby may in fact need more than they are getting. Keep a note of their mood and interest in feeding. If you suspect your baby is under-sleeping or resisting sleep with all their will, get in touch today for a free 15 min call.

What’s next? Once you have set aside the 11-12 hours from the average total sleep duration in 24 hours, you will now be left with a nap total allocation. If this is 2-3 hours, aim for 2.5 hours and remember to space if out fairly evenly. Too much sleep early in the day or late in the day can disrupt night sleep. Try to limit sleep before 9am and after 4pm- this will depend on age.

If you are playing around with sleep routines, be sure to keep that sleep log going so you can look back and assess any patterns.

Baby still not sleeping well despite distribution of sleep according to needs?

If you have improved baby’s environment and routine, there could be some tweaks to sleep timing that may help you. If you suspect your baby’s waking is a settling issue, the most perfect timing in the world won’t help your baby to sleep through the night. Similarly, a nap routine may be hard to achieve if your baby doesn’t love sleep.

Need more help?

1:1 support currently available. Head to to see packages or text me on 0499 499 812 for more details or to book in for an enquiry call.


Children’s Health Queensland (2019). Healthy sleep in children.

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