What are Typical Sleep patterns for 4 to 12 Month Old Babies?

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What should I know about sleep patterns for my 4 to 12 month old baby?

  • A healthy infant sleep pattern is essential for growth and development
  • Expect sleep patterns and nap schedules to change with age
  • As your baby gets older, they will sleep for longer periods at night and begin consolidating their naps

Sleep is essential for your baby’s growth and development. Babies aged 4 to 12 months sleep an average of about 12-16 hours during a 24-hour period.1 While the amount of sleep your baby needs will not change much, the way their sleep is distributed throughout the day and night will change with age and developmental stage.2 These changing sleep patterns and nap schedules are not only completely normal, they are expected.

Here are examples of typical infant sleep patterns for babies by age. Note that not all babies follow the below patterns, and that’s okay!

4-6 months baby sleep pattern

At this age, your baby’s circadian rhythm begins to develop, allowing your little one to begin to have longer stretches of sleep at night.3

Nighttime sleep is generally 10.5-12 hours (which may include 1-2 overnight feedings).4

Daytime sleep is generally 3-4 hours spread over 3-4 naps.4

  • The morning nap tends to be the most predictable, likely starting 1.5-2 hours after your baby’s morning wake-up time.
  • Any other daytime naps will be less predictable in timing and duration, as regular sleep patterns usually do not emerge until your baby is about 6 months old.5,6

6-9 months sleep pattern

As of 9 months, many babies are sleeping through the night, though some continue to wake for feeds.7 Should you want to gently wean baby off nighttime feedings, encourage lots of daytime feeding sessions. Keeping your baby full during the day may help reduce your baby’s hunger at night.10

Nighttime infant sleep patterns are generally 10.5-12 hours (which may include 0-2 overnight feedings).8

Daytime sleep becomes more predictable, usually with 2 to 3 naps, and may look something like this:

  • Morning nap 1.5-2 hours from wake-up
  • 2.5-3 hours of wakefulness until second nap
  • Possible: Short (15-30 minute) third nap in the late afternoon or early evening to reduce sleep pressure and avoid over tiredness.

Read more: Dropping Night Feedings

9-12 months sleep pattern

At this age, your baby can likely withstand longer periods of wakefulness and may fall into a regular 2 nap-per-day sleep pattern after dropping the morning or late afternoon nap.9

Nighttime sleep is generally 10.5-12 hours. Night feedings may no longer be biologically necessary for many babies at this age,13 although some families choose to continue with overnight feedings. Should this work for your family, there is no harm in following baby’s lead!

Daytime sleep is generally 2 naps totaling about 3 hours with the schedule looking something like this:

  • Predictable first morning nap 2-2.5 hours from wake-up
  • Second nap begins about 2.5-3.5 hours from wake-up from first nap

Your baby should now be able to withstand at least 4 hours of wakefulness until bedtime. It may be helpful to shift bedtime slightly earlier as your little one adjusts to a 2-nap schedule.9

How to help your baby sleep well and follow a sleep pattern

Know that every baby is different, and all will go through sleep pattern changes

You may find that your little one has a sleep pattern all their own. And this may be different than any pattern listed here or any patterns you hear about from friends and family.  As long as your little one seems well-rested and wakes up happily on their own, they are likely getting enough sleep.

There are times that your little one may suddenly goes from a regular sleeping pattern to not sleeping well at all.  This may be a sleep regression. During a sleep regression your baby may wake up more often, may have a more difficult time falling asleep, and may try to skip or change naps. But know that with time and patience your little one will eventually go back to a more predictable sleep pattern.

To help get through a sleep regression or any adjustment in sleep pattern, strive to maintain a general sleep schedule, and provide your little one with a safe and comfortable sleep space. This way you’ll be giving your child the opportunity to get the sleep they need for healthy development.

Read more: What are Sleep Regressions

Try not to make your baby skip a nap

When your little one seems to be fighting hard against sleep, it can be tempting to have them skip a nap so they sleep better at night. Unfortunately this often backfires, potentially causing your child to sleep worse.14, 15. Additionally, consistently not getting enough sleep may lead to some difficult behaviors and health issues down the line.16

Read more: How To Help Your Older Baby Sleep Well at Night

Keep a sleep log for your baby

If you are not sure whether your baby is getting the right amount of sleep or following a typical infant sleep pattern for their age, keep a log of their sleep. Things to keep track of include: the time your child actually falls asleep, the times your child wakes up during the night and in the morning, and the number and length of each daytime nap.

Help foster your baby’s new sleep pattern as it changes

Make small changes in your baby’s sleep schedule as their biological pattern changes. For example, when your 9-month-old no longer needs a third nap, adjust their bedtime 30-60 minutes earlier so they do not become overtired in the evening.9

And always encourage healthy sleep in an optimal sleeping environment

Read more: How to Help Your Baby Sleep Well at Night

Use light and dark cues to help regulate your baby’s sleep

Light has a strong impact on the circadian rhythm.12 Expose your baby to light, especially natural daylight, at the times when you will want them to be awake. Keep your baby’s environment dark and offer very low stimulation activities at night during the time you want them to be sleeping (even if your little one is not sleeping!).12

Summary: Baby sleep patterns by age

*Remember that not all babies follow the below patterns; their wake up and sleep times may be different as may the number of naps that they take – this is okay and may still be normal!

Ages 4-6 months

  • Wake: between 5 and 7am
  • Naps: 3 to 4 per day; 30 to 75 minutes each
  • Bedtime: between 5:30 and 8pm

Total day sleep = 1.5 to 4 hours

Total night sleep = 11.5 to 13 hours

Total sleep in 24 hours = 13 to 17 hours

Ages 6-9 months

  • Wake: between 6 and 8am
  • Naps: 2 to 3 per day; 60 to 90 minutes each (the third late-afternoon nap may be only 15 to 30 minutes)
  • Bedtime: between 5 and 8pm

Total daytime sleep = 2 to 3.5 hours

Total nighttime sleep = 10 to 12.5 hours

Total sleep in 24 hours = 12 to 16 hours

Ages 9-12 months

  • Wake: between 6 to 9am
  • Naps: 2 per day, 60 to 120 minutes each
  • Bedtime: between 6 and 9pm

Total daytime sleep = 2 to 4 hours

Total nighttime sleep = 10 to 11 hours

Total sleep in 24 hours = 12 to 15 hours

sources: 2, 3

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For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

How to Help Your Baby Sleep Well at Night

How can I help my newborn (0-12 weeks) sleep well at night?

Sleep Patterns: What’s Typical for a Newborn

Sleep Regressions and How to Move Past Them

How to Manage Your Baby’s Early Morning Wakeups

Sources