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  • Writer's pictureMorgan Michalowski

Eliminate Anxiety Around Infant Sleep - Here’s What’s Normal:

The Newborn Stage: Birth- 2 months

Your baby will:

• Sleep

○ 14-18 hours of sleep per day but in 1-3 hours stretches.

○ You will need a nap (or two)!

• Have no schedule! It’s predictably unpredictable.

• Go to bed late, around 10-11pm, the first few months of life. Don’t worry, your baby will find their “perfect” bedtime.

Pro tip: To cope with the late bedtime, split it. Have your partner hang with your baby while you go to bed early. Then swap.

• Experience an early evening peak in crying associated with reduced sleep at 6 weeks of age. Get all hands on deck, don’t do this part alone if you don’t have to!

• Sleep in your room. The World Health Organization (WHO) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room sharing until 6-12 months.

• How to handle infant sleep like a 3rd time mom:

Infant sleep works itself out in time even if every baby has a different timeline.

Get your baby to sleep better at night by having them nap in a common area during the day. Expose your baby to more light in the early afternoon by taking them on walks or sitting in front of a window to develop their circadian rhythm.

Establish a morning and evening routine: Open blinds in the morning, take a bath, sing songs, or read books before bedtime.

Keep your spirits up with this mental reframe: You can rest knowing your baby’s neurological and respiratory systems are functioning correctly with all the frequent wakings.

The Infant Stage (Part 1): 2-4 months

Your baby will:

• Sleep:

○ 14 hours of sleep per day, 2-4 naps per day.

• Take short naps. Infants at this age often sleep longer when contact napping. If you’re working on getting your baby to sleep independently, plan to work on naps for a few weeks or months. The pros and cons of contact napping and independent sleep:


Contact napping: daytime flexibility (you aren’t restricted to napping at home), longer stretches of sleep, time to bond, easy to breastfeed on the go in the carrier.

○ Independent sleep: develop a schedule sooner, more body space, independence.


Contact napping: babies are heavy, they rely on you to sleep, lack of personal space.

○ Independent sleep: spend most of your leave trying to get your baby to sleep on their own, restricted schedule during the day, temporary stress while you help them learn how to sleep and stay asleep.

• Experience a sleep transition around 3-4 months and wake more frequently.

• Outgrow the swaddle once they roll over.

• How to handle infant sleep like a 3rd time mom:

Bedtime naturally shifts a little earlier. You can attempt to move bedtime by starting your routine 15 min earlier each day OR follow your baby’s lead.

Infants and children across the world have later bedtimes than infants/children do in the United States! Find the norm for you and your baby! It’s ok if what works for you is different from your friends.

The Infant Stage (Part 2): 4-8 months

Your baby will:

• Sleep

12-14 hours of sleep per day, 2-3 naps per day.

• Still have variation in sleep quantity and quality. Some infants sleep through the night while others wake as frequently as 10 times/night. It’s normal for baby but you need your rest too!

Pro tip: Take turns with your partner. One of you covers the baby while the other one gets a solid night of rest.

• Officially establish their circadian rhythm by four months of age.

• How to handle infant sleep like a 3rd time mom:

Teething and developmental leaps can significantly impact your baby’s ability to consolidate sleep overnight. You can sleep train through teething or take a baby led approach.

Frequent night waking is common from 4-12 months

If at 6 months your child starts to wake up at night after sleeping through the night, it may be related to the introduction of food. Give it time! Your baby will adjust.

The Infant Stage (Part 3): 8-12 months

Your baby will:

• Sleep

12-14 hours of sleep per day, 2-3 naps.

• Have more of a schedule. Around half of the babies sleep through the night at this stage, the other half still wake frequently.

Occasionally experience the universal developmental phenomenon of night waking through the first year of life.

• How to handle infant sleep like a 3rd time mom:

Developmental leaps are real and impact your baby’s drive to sleep. Some babies are so excited to practice new skills in their sleep and wake themselves (or you!) up.

The number of night time awakenings really is a function of age. Studies have found that by 24 months regular night waking requiring attention becomes much less common. Older infants exhibit the ability to self-soothe after nighttime awakenings better than younger infants. Self-soothing is a skill learned over time as the brain develops the capacity to practice it.

Eliminate the stress: sleep characteristics are only slightly associated with the quality of the child’s attachment relationship! It’s ok to sleep train. It’s also ok to help your baby to sleep as their brain develops. It truly is up to you and the needs of the whole family!


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