Finnbin Baby Box

New Parent Baby Sleep Guide

Finnish Baby Sleeping in Box

Because a good night's sleep is so important for both newborn babies and new parents, the team at Mattress Nerd have put together a detailed sleep guide for parents to use. This expert- reviewed article includes a look at sleep schedules for all ages as well as tips for parents themselves to get better rest. 

This article was written by Jennifer Walker-Journey and Expert Reviewed by Elizabeth King, a professional sleep consultant and the Founder and CEO of Sleep Baby Sleep Consulting. She and her team of consultants love working with families to help give them and their little ones the gift of a peaceful night’s sleep and long naps. We are passionate about sleep and believe that every baby can sleep well. We work with you to develop a plan that accomplishes this while fitting with your family’s needs and desires.

Sleep is an important part of a baby’s development. As infants sleep, their brains grow and mature. Your little one becomes better equipped to understand language and be more attentive. Sleep also increases blood supply to the muscles, restores energy, and enables tissue growth and repair.  

According to studies published in the journal of Early Human Development, babies who sleep better and longer through the night had higher cognitive scores. Additionally, with good sleep, babies were more approachable and less distractible and, not to mention, less irritable and fussy. 

Getting your child on a regular nighttime and nap schedule will benefit not just your baby, but you, too. But what is considered appropriate sleep for your baby? And just how many naps should they take during the day? It all depends on their age, experts say. 

New Dad Resting with Sleeping Baby

Hours of Sleep Needed by Baby

Newborn – 2 Months 

  • Hours of Sleep Required: 16-20 hours
  • Recommended Bedtime:  9 p.m.
  • Frequency of Naps: 4-6 naps
  • Type of bed/mattress they should be using: Bassinet, cradle, or crib, preferably in parents’ room

Newborns’ sleep is disorganized. And who can blame them? They’ve literally been pushed out of the only environment they’ve ever known into a strange new world. No longer cocooned in the warmth and comfort of your womb, newborns are expected to fall peacefully asleep on their backs in a mattress with nothing around them, per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sleep guidelines. 

In general, babies don’t sleep more than 4-5 hours at a time until they are at least six weeks old. Professional Sleep Consultant Elizabeth King says, “A good rule of thumb to follow is that they can sleep as many hours as they are weeks old once they’ve reached five weeks.” Newborns, in particular, need to feed frequently, about 8-12 times every 24 hours. Which means your sleep will be lacking as well. The key to ensuring good sleep as your baby gets older is to establish a good sleep routine and make sure they have a safe place to sleep. 

Newborns should sleep in a bassinet, cradle, or crib that’s close to their parent’s bed, according to the AAP. The sleep surface should be firm, preferably a crib or bassinet mattress, covered with a well-fitted sheet. As tempting as it may be to fill the crib with stuffed animals and blankets, it is best to refrain for the first year because these can become safety hazards.  

Bassinets and cradles are smaller beds designed for babies from birth to about four months. They usually have fixed legs while cradles generally rock or glide. These smaller beds may help premature or low-birthweight babies feel more secure. But a crib is fine for all newborns through their first few years of life. 

Crib mattresses need to fit tightly into the crib so that your baby doesn’t accidentally get caught between the crib and the mattress. As a rule of thumb, you should not be able to put more than two fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib. Mattresses should also be firm, of good quality, and made of either innerspring or foam. You may also want to consider a 2-stage crib mattress, which are flippable and provide a firm mattress on one side for infants and a plusher mattress on the other side for when they grow into toddlerhood. 

2 Months – 4 Months 

  • Hours of Sleep Required: 14-18 hours
  • Recommended Bedtime: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Frequency of Naps: 3-4 naps
  • Type of bed/mattress they should be using: Bassinet, cradle, or crib, preferably in parents’ room

By 2-3 months, your baby will likely be sleeping longer periods at night — as much as 5-6 hours, which may feel like a lifetime compared to the previous months. 

By 4 months, babies should be transitioned to a crib. Most bassinets have a weight limit of about 15 to 20 pounds. As early as 4 months, your little one can begin to roll over, and their bassinet or cradle will become a safety hazard. This is the time to transition to a crib.

Babies will still spend a lot of time sleeping — as much as 14-18 hours and gradually work into a more structured nap pattern, with an earlier bedtime. According to sleep consultant Elizabeth King, “At this age, overtiredness is the biggest cause of sleep problems so don’t believe the myth that keeping your baby up will help them sleep better. For babies, sleep begets more sleep.” The AAP recommends babies continue to room-share with their parents (without bed-sharing) until at least six months. But you should visit the nursery several times a day — for diaper changes and playtime — so that the room becomes a familiar environment. 

4 Months-6 Months 

  • Hours of Sleep Required: 14-16 hours
  • Recommended Bedtime: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Frequency of Naps: 2-3 naps
  • Type of bed/mattress they should be using: Crib, preferably in parents’ room

By 4-6 months, your baby will be getting bigger and stronger, and their circadian rhythms begin emerging, meaning they will naturally get sleepy when it gets dark outside. Naps should be becoming more regular, occurring 2-3 times daily. Bedtimes also come earlier and more structured, usually about 2-2.5 hours after their last nap. 

By now, your baby should be sleeping in a crib. Again, AAP recommends room-sharing for at least the first six months of your baby’s life. However, you should continue familiarizing your baby with the nursery. During these months, babies will also begin to roll over, sit up, and reach for objects. You’ll want to be sure your baby’s crib remains free of any safety hazards, like stuffed animals, blankets, pillows, or bumpers.

6 Months-12 Months 

  • Hours of Sleep Required: 14-16 hours
  • Recommended Bedtime: 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Frequency of Naps: 2-3 naps
  • Type of bed/mattress they should be using: Crib

You can now safely reclaim your bedroom and move your baby to their own room. To ease the transition, for three or four nights, you move the bedtime routine in the nursery and then bring your baby back to your room to sleep. This will help your little one learn to associate the nursery as a safe and comforting place. Some babies may wake at night because of separation anxiety. It’s OK to check on them and soothe them back to sleep.

By six months through about two years of age, your baby will begin teething. This can be uncomfortable and possibly disrupt their sleep. If teething pain becomes intense, talk to your pediatrician about whether you can give your baby an appropriate dose of infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help them sleep. 

By the time your baby reaches their first birthday, they’ll be pulling up on their own and possibly even walking. You may wake to find your babysitting upright or standing in their crib, playing. 

We hope this makes your parenting journey a little smoother. Click here for a link to the original article published on Mattress Nerd.

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