How Much Sleep is Needed?

How Much Sleep is Needed?

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

Per Day
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
10 hours
Adults about
8 hours
















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.

Dr. Alan Greene

As a father of four himself, Dr. Greene has devoted himself to freely giving real answers to parents' real questions -- from questions about those all too common childhood conditions to those that address the most recent and rare pediatric illnesses. His answers combine cutting edge science, practical wisdom, warm empathy, and a deep respect for parents, children, and the environment. He is also an electrifying public speaker, and has personally touched many during his talks in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Dr. Greene is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of California at San Francisco. Upon completion of his pediatric residency program at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Northern California he served as Chief Resident. He entered primary care pediatrics in January 1993.

Dr. Greene is the Past President of The Organic Center and on the Board of Directors of Healthy Child Healthy World. He is a founding partner of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. He also consults for the Environmental Working Group.

In 1995, he launched, cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site” on the Internet. His award-winning site has received over 80 million Unique Users from parents, concerned family members, students, and healthcare professionals. In addition to being the founder of, he is the Medical Director for HealthTap.

In 2010 Dr. Greene founded the WhiteOut Movement to change how babies in the United States are fed. In 2012 he founded TICC TOCC - Transitioning Immediate Cord Clamping To Optimal Cord Clamping. He is also the founder of KidGlyphs, a free iPhone app that provides a tool for young children to express themselves beyond their verbal skills while teaching them important language skills.

Dr. Greene is the Founding President of the Society for Participatory Medicine and has served as both President and Board Chair of Hi-Ethics (Health Internet Ethics. He is on the Board of Directors for Healthy Child Healthy World, The Lunchbox Project, and The Society for Participatory Medicine. He has also served as an advisor to URAC for both their inaugural and their updated health web site accreditation program. He is a founding member of the e-Patient Scholars Working Group, and a founding board member of the Center for Information Therapy.

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Dr. Greene is the author of Feeding Baby Green (Wiley, 2009), Raising Baby Green (Wiley, 2007), From First Kicks to First Steps (McGraw-Hill, 2004), The Parent's Complete Guide to Ear Infections (People's Medical Society, 1997), and a co-author of The A.D.A.M. Illustrated Family Health Guide (A.D.A.M., Inc., 2004). He is the medical expert for three additional books, The Parent's Soup A-to-Z Guide to Your New Baby, (Contemporary Books, 1998) The Parent's Soup A-to-Z Guide to Your Toddler, (Contemporary Books, 1999), and The Mother of All Baby Books, (Hungry Minds, Inc., 2002).

Dr. Greene is a frequent keynote speaker at important events such as Health 2.0 2011 held in San Diego, CA, IFOAM 2008 (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), held in Modena Italy, the first European Internet health conference, held in Maastricht, the first International eHealth Association Conference, held in Jeddah, and the largest e-Healthcare World Conference, held in Las Vegas, and the first Green Power Baby Shower, held in Hollywood. Dr. Greene also appears frequently on TV, radio, websites, and in newspapers and magazines around the world, including such venues as the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC network news, NPR, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time Magazine, Parade, Parenting, Child, Baby Talk, Working Mother, Better Home's & Gardens, and the Reader's Digest.

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  1. Cassie

    My son is 6 months and has been a terrible sleeper since birth. He gets about 8 to 10 hours. It used to be even less. His pediatrician hasn’t been concerned but i definitely am as well as sleep deprived. Why is my son not sleeping no matter what we try?

    • Hi Cassie,
      Thanks for writing in! Could you possibly sleep when your son does, then at least that will help with your sleep deprivation? Like the oxygen mask on the plane, taking care of your own needs might help you be less anxious about your baby. Just a thought! Sleep deprivation is really hard.
      Hope that helps!
      Alexandra (caring helper at, not a doctor)


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