I’m asked almost everyday by some concerned parent whether their child is sleeping enough or too much. That’s not a simple answer and sleep needs vary from child to child and even from day to day.
For instance, if a child has just learned to walk she will often get more sleep because she’s getting a lot more physical activity than she did just before she began walking. When a child first learns to walk, she toddles from place to place trying out her new skills with a new burst of energy. (Note: don’t put your video camera away after she’s taken those monumental first steps! There are some never-to-be-repeated times right around the corner.)
Once she’s mastered walking, her sleep needs may decrease again. Of course when a child is ill or even fighting off an infection, he might need more sleep. And if a child (or adult) is looking forward to an exciting day ahead, the excitement and anticipation may naturally result in less sleep the night before.
But back to the question, how much sleep does my baby need? I have general guidelines for the range of normal amount of sleep needed for each age:
Average Number of Hours of Sleep Needed
16 to 18 hours
First 6 months
14 to 16 hours
6 to 12 months
13 to 14 hours
12 months to 2 years
12 to 13 hours
2 to 6 years
10 to 13 hours
6 to 12 year
9 to 11 hours
12 to 18 years about
Keep in mind, the above table is a general guideline, only. Your child may fall outside these averages and be completely normal. On the other hand, sleep is vitally important and it’s worth paying attention to the sleep needs of everyone in the family.