How is the baby sleeping?  How are you sleeping?

I remember being asked this question over and over again as I ventured down the path of new motherhood and then again with a newborn and a toddler. So many things venture into a baby’s ability to sleep for longer periods of time. My 10 lb. newborn had her days and nights mixed up when we brought her home, and the first week one of us stayed up until 2 or 3 am with her. Once we got her schedule switched, she slept through the night at 3 weeks. Her 7 lb. little sister only wanted to sleep while being bundled in a blanket and held, and she never went to bed or stayed in bed easily. Same parents, same room, same routine – different children. We have some recommended strategies for you to try to help you on your way to a good night’s sleep.


Newborns need 16-20 hours/day. They are awake an hour or two between periods of sleep.

Infants need between 13 and 15 hours per day. This sleep is with morning and afternoon naps, and nighttime sleep.

Toddlers need around 12 hours of sleep, accomplished with an afternoon nap and nighttime sleep.


  • Feed your baby right before bedtime so they are not hungry when you put them down.
  • Put child in bed when sleepy but not asleep. This way they will learn to fall asleep on their own.
  • Place babies under one on their back.
  • Maintain a nighttime routine, such as feeding, bath, story, etc. and stick to it as closely as you can.
  • Put the baby to bed at the same time every night.
  • Limit daytime naps to no more than 3 hours.
  • If you have an infant, put the baby to nap in places where there is noise and movement, so they don’t get used to complete silence with every nap.
  • Do not put a bottle or cup in bed with your baby or toddler.
  • Consider the use of a pacifier, but only after your child has become an established breast feeder, if you are breastfeeding.


If your child is exhibiting these signs of tiredness, they may need additional soothing (rocking, singing, a quiet story, a backrub) before going to sleep. The signs of tiredness in children of various ages include:

  • newborns – staring, jerky movements of the arms and legs, clenched fists, frowning, yawning, irritated behavior including crying
  • older babies – loss of interest in toys or playing, fretfulness, yawning, separation anxiety, irritated behavior including crying, eye rubbing, a change in physical activity
  • toddlers – clumsy physical movements, tasks take longer to perform, irritated behavior including crying, emotional tension.


Some of the reasons why older babies and toddlers may not want to take a nap include:

  • They don’t want to be by themselves.
  • They don’t want to miss out on any activity.
  • They are too excited, restless or anxious and can’t relax.
  • Their daytime routine doesn’t always include naps.
  • They are hungry or thirsty or have some other physical discomfort.


Suggestions to help your child settle for a nap include:

  • Make sure your child has plenty of fresh air and physical activity.
  • Establish a routine so your child expects to have a nap at certain times.
  • Give your child time to relax beforehand with gentle activities.
  • Make sure they are comfortable, fed and wearing a fresh diaper.
  • If your child is a toddler or mobile, put them in a place that is quiet and dark.
  • Provide your child with an opportunity to settle themselves. Then, if they are anxious without you, stay in the room for a few minutes.
  • After 12 months some children may be comforted by a special object or toy. However, first check recommendations for safe sleeping and avoiding SUID (sudden unexpected infant death).
  • Leave their bedroom door open so they can hear you moving around the house.
  • Even if they do not sleep, the rest and quiet time alone is still beneficial

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