Why is sleep important for your baby? Because it makes them happy, healthy and smart! It's no secret how important it is for babies. As a parent you know how happy and sweet a baby can be after a good rest - and how cranky and fussy when tired.

Your baby’s sleeping habits will change as they grow. It’s important to remember that all babies are different and it’s quite normal for some babies to need more or less sleep than is suggested below.

Babies under 12 months: sleep needs

0-3 months

  • Most newborns don’t have a definite day and night sleep pattern. They’re still learning to tell the difference between day and night.
  • Newborns generally sleep for 16-20 hours in a 24-hour period, but they wake every 2-4 hours to be fed. They need lots of feeding because they have tiny tummies.
  • Over the first 12 weeks most newborns start to develop day and night sleep patterns. By three months, babies are averaging 14-15 hours of sleep in each 24-hour period.

3-6 months

  • At this age, most babies sleep 10-18 hours in a 24-hour period. On average, they sleep around 14 hours.
  • Although they’re growing quickly, babies still need to wake up for feeding at this age.
  • Sleeping patterns vary a lot, but babies generally nap three times during the day. Most babies need help going to sleep.

6-12 months

During these months most babies still sleep for around 14 hours in a 24-hour period.

Here’s what to expect during the day:

  • Most babies nap during the day.
  • Naps usually last 1-2 hours. Some babies sleep longer. Up to a quarter of all babies this age, nap for less than an hour.

And here’s what to expect at night:

  • Most babies are ready for bed between 6 pm and 10 pm.
  • Most babies take less than 30 minutes to fall asleep.
  • Many babies wake up during the night and need an adult to settle them back to sleep. About 1 in 10 babies will do this 3-4 times a night.

More than a third of parents say they have problems with their baby’s sleep at this age.

Babies over 12 months: sleep needs

At 12-18 months old, babies generally sleep 13-15 hours over a 24-hour period. Most babies have naps twice a day until around 18 months. Around this time babies often go from having two naps to having one longer daytime nap.

Some babies start to resist going to sleep at night, preferring to stay up with the family. This peaks at around 18 months and tends to go away with age.