When we're embarking on our adventure that is parenthood, we have no idea what we're doing and are constantly referring to books or to Google to give the answers and instructions. After the weeks and months roll by and we begin to find our groove, we also realise that our babies are all very different and their needs differ too. That said, one of the questions that I get asked all the time is "How much sleep does my baby actually need?"
It's great to know that so many of you are mindful about how much or how little sleep your child is getting and keeping in mind that our babies are unique little individuals, I'm sharing with you my recommendations from birth to 12 months in the table below.
Before you look at the table, an important point here is that we always work with an Adjusted Age based on the Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) rather than the actual birth date. This is because the developmental changes that happen each week over the first few months of life are huge so we need to make our expectations and recommendations age appropriate.
E.g. As at today’s date (30/11/15)
- EDD was 30th Nov
- Baby born early on 9th Nov
- Adjusted age: Newborn
- EDD was 1st Nov
- Baby born late 13th Nov
- Adjusted age: almost 4 weeks
Personally, averages annoy me. They just either make you feel rubbish i.e. your baby sleeps waaaaay less than the ‘average’ or you convince yourself that your baby is fine because for there to be an average in the first place, there’s got to be some babies in the research that are running on empty day after day and your little one is probably just like them!
Either way, we just need to be aware of the averages and not get hung up on them. We’re dealing with real-life little people here remember, not robots.
These little folk are pretty clever too. As they can’t verbally communicate with us just yet, they have some other ingenious ways to tell us that they might have been burning the candle at both ends and need a bit more shut-eye.
Any of these sound familiar?
- Fights sleep - wriggles and writhes keeping themselves awake
- Lots of tears at naptime or bedtime
- Has a meltdown at the end of the day
- Dinner time is a battle
- Fussy with food
- Screams in the bath
- Gets ‘hyper’ before bedtime
- You find yourself telling everyone people that your baby just hates sleep
If any these ring true for you then your baby might need a few more zzz’s.
You could argue that all of these overtired signs are just normal, trying baby behaviour and you’d be right. So to understand the difference, the question you need to ask yourself is:
“How frequently does this happen?” Is this typical, every day behaviour or something that tends to happen after a busy, active weekend?
If you’re experiencing these symptoms for 50% of the week or more then you can call it every-day behaviour. Any less than this and it’s something that you want to keep an eye on. A great idea is to start keeping track of your babies sleep using a sleep log (you can download mine for free here) or use an App on your phone. When you’re paying attention to your child’s sleep you will begin to see patterns emerge and the overtired behaviour becomes more obvious.
With my daughter, I used to talk about the end of the day as the FOG setting in: Five O’ Clock Grumps
Rookie Mummy didn’t realise that her baby was in fact exhausted and would be asleep by 5.30pm given half a chance. Instead bedtime was 7.00pm preceded by a fat dose of crying because the book said bedtime should be 7.00pm. Doh!
Yes, it’s really important to know roughly how much sleep your baby should be getting but this isn’t a competition where you win a prize because your baby sleeps the average amount.
The prize is a happy, healthy, contented baby and parenting is about creating that holy trinity.
There are no right ways or wrong ways but there can be better ways.
Are you struggling with an overtired baby or think you might be? Book in a free 15 minute informal chat (no obligation), tell me what’s going on and I’ll tell you whether we can fix it.
Let me obsess about your babies sleep so you don’t have to and share with other tired friends, family and parents of the world 🙂