Baby sleep tips: Your guide to your 2 to 12 month-old

Learn how to get your baby to sleep through the night with our helpful guide, which includes age-appropriate tips and strategies.

The first 12 months of your baby’s life are as amazing as they are challenging. One of the biggest struggles for parents is understanding naps and night sleep. Nowadays, more people are becoming aware of how important sleeping is and how it impacts every aspect of our life. Therefore, imagine how vital sleep is for babies and their development. 

The best way to handle your baby's sleep is to understand the main characteristics of each month of their life and the amount of sleep and awake time needed.

2 to 3 months

Parents always wish for their babies to sleep on a schedule, but at this age it’s almost impossible to predict your baby’s sleep schedule for a number of reasons. 

First, day and night confusion means their body clock hasn't settled yet. Second, babies don't produce their own melatonin (the sleep hormone). Third, they’re constantly hungry, which means they can’t sleep for long periods of time. They’ll often wake in the middle of the night as their sleep patterns aren’t yet consistent.

Counting how much time your baby stays awake may help set some structure. In these first few months, you can start to recognise your baby's sleep cues, help them differentiate daytime from nighttime with appropriate activities, try swaddling your baby (for some babies this works really well), and start using white noise for nap times.

  • Sleep time in 24 hours: 14 to 17 hours
  • Number of naps: 4 to 5
  • Total nap hours  in a day: 5 hours maximum
  • Awake windows: 1.5 hours approximately

4 to 6 months

A schedule will naturally start to emerge around 4 months of age. It's important to understand that your baby actually sleeps better and longer with fewer naps. By this age, having consistent ‘wake times’ is a great way to get your baby on the right track. 

It’s okay if your baby takes a longer nap or a short nap, but keeping a consistent schedule (with deviations no longer than 30 minutes) also helps keep your baby's internal clock regular, which makes falling asleep and staying asleep easier. 

Start consolidating your bedtime routines. Before you say good night, you can try some simple steps: bath time, massage, pyjamas, feeding, or an activity such as reading or singing. Keep it short, because at this point you want to keep your baby as awake as possible when you put them in their crib. 

If you feed your baby right before they sleep, try and have a mini activity between feeding and laying the baby down. This way, you’re telling your baby that being fed isn’t the only way to fall asleep.

  • Sleep time in 24 hours: 12 to 17 hours
  • Number of naps: 3 to 4
  • Total nap hours in a day: 4 hours maximum
  • Awake windows: 1.5 to 2.5 hours approximately

7 to 9 months

Your baby should be sleeping much more consistently at this age – some babies are even capable of sleeping through the entire night (12 hours). A small percentage will continue to need feeding somewhere around 4 or 5 in the morning, but this can usually be resolved by adding more calories to their meals during the day.

Your baby will now only need to take 2 or 3 naps: one in the morning, one mid-afternoon, and sometimes a cat nap in the late afternoon. You should keep an eye on your baby’s naps as they’ll get shorter and shorter, usually lasting 20 to 25 minutes. By 9 months, most babies will have dropped to 2 solid naps, one in the late morning and one in the afternoon.

  • Sleep time in 24 hours: 12 to 15 hours
  • Number of naps: 2 to 3
  • Total nap hours in a day: 3 hours maximum
  • Awake windows: 3 - 3.5 hours approximately

10-12 months

At this age, most babies are capable of sleeping through the night. If you have concerns regarding night feedings, it's best to talk to your paediatrician. Most babies are very set in their ways at this age, so they can cry and protest quite strongly, but the advantage is that they learn very quickly. 

It’s very important to put effort into your baby's schedule by creating a good sleep environment and having bedtime routines. Without these elements, your baby will struggle to get used to the routine.

  • Sleep time in 24 hours: 12 to 15 hours
  • Number of naps: 1 to 2
  • Total nap hours in a day: 3 hours maximum
  • Awake windows: 3.5 to 5 hours approximately

Many families get in touch with sleep consultants around this age if they’re still having issues with their baby’s sleep, although you don't need to wait until you’re ‘struggling’ to reach out and learn more about your child’s sleep. 

Final thoughts from Kami

Understanding your baby’s constantly changing sleep schedule during the first year of their life is the first step to managing their sleep needs. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t seem to figure it out; with time, your baby’s sleep schedule will even out and you’ll be able to handle it much more easily. For the first year of their life, all you can do is your best.

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