How Much Sleep Does a Child Need?

image001How much sleep does a child need? There is no set number of hours of sleep that children will require at a particular age. However, there is a general guide for the number of hours you should aim for. It is very important that your child get quality sleep and an adequate amount of rest. Children that do not get enough sleep can display extreme behavior and become hyperactive or disagreeable. This article shows the amount of sleeping time needed for kids of different ages and tips for your baby to sleep better.

How Much Sleep Does a Child Need?

Sleep Time for 1-4 Weeks Old

Children this young will typically sleep between 15-18 hours a day, but they will usually only sleep for 2-4 hours at a time. Those that are colicky tend to sheep for shorter periods of time while premature babies will often sleep longer. Newborns have not yet developed their circadian rhythm, the internal biological clock which regulates our day and night cycles, so they tend to lack a pattern in the way they sleep.

Sleep Time for 1-4 Months Old

Children at this age require around 14-15 hours of sleep daily. By the time your child is six weeks old they will likely begin to settle into more regular sleep patterns. They may begin to sleep for as long as six hours at a time and tend to settle down more regularly in the evening. This should begin to correct the day/night confusion.

Sleep Time for 4-12 Months Old

It is ideal for children at this age to sleep up to 15 hours a day but most only get around 12. It is important to establish healthy sleep habits at this time to encourage the child’s sleep and social patterns to be more like those of adults. Babies will often start out having three naps a day and then move to two around 6 months as they become more able to sleep through the night. Encouraging regular naps will help the circadian rhythm to mature properly.

Sleep Time for 1-3 Years Old

As your child moves through the 18-21 month phase they will likely start taking only one nap a day, but toddlers still require up to 14 hours of sleep per day. Most toddlers will actually get around 10 hours of sleep. Children from 21-36 months will usually still require a nap, which can be one to three hours long. They should be encouraged to sleep from around 7-9 pm to 6-8 am.

Sleep Time for 3-6 Years Old 

Children in this age range will usually go to sleep around the same time they did when they were younger. At the younger ages in this phase children will still take a nap each day, but many stop this practice around age 5. Those that do take naps will likely start taking shorter periods of rest each day. Children should get around 10-12 hours of sleep each day at this age range.

Sleep Time for  7-12 Years Old 

Social activities at school or with friends and family will generally dictate bedtimes at this age. Most 12-year-olds will go to bed around 9, but bedtimes can vary greatly. The amount of time your child sleeps at this age will also vary. Children at this age should be encouraged to get 10-11 hours of sleep each night, but most get around 9 hours of sleep.

Sleep Time for 12-18 Years Old 

Teenagers require sleep in order to be healthy and maintain an optimum state of well-being. Teenagers are developing so they may actually require more sleep than previous stages. They should be encouraged to get at least 8-9 hours of sleep per day. However, social pressure may encourage your child to stay up later.

Below is the table of recommended sleep time for your baby:


Daytime sleep

Night-time sleep

Total sleep


7 ½

8 ½


1 month

8 (inconsistently)



6 months




9 months

3 1/4


14 1/4

12 months

2 ½

11 ¼

13 3/4

18 months

2 ¼

11 ¼

13 1/2

2 years




3 years

1 ½

10 ½


Tips for Better Sleep for Children at Different Ages

1. For Newborns

image002At this age sleep can occur at any time which will be interchanged with the need to be fed or their diaper changed. Some children will fuss when they are tired while others will fall asleep rather quickly. Learn your child’s sleep patterns and signs of fatigue and work to place your child in their crib when they are sleepy, but not asleep. Keep them on their back and keep soft items away from their face for safety. Encourage nighttime sleep whenever possible.

2. For Infants

image003Many infants will start to sleep through the night while taking 1-4 naps a day. It is important at this stage to encourage children to be self-soothers so they can fall asleep easily on their own. Develop a regular daytime and bedtime schedule and create a bedtime routine that will soothe your child. Work to create a comfortable sleep environment for your child and encourage your child to fall asleep on their own without stimulation from an adult.

3. For Toddlers

image004Toddlers will start to see a decrease in the number and length of naptimes. At this age nightmares and sleep problems can become more common which can lead to daytime sleepiness or behavior problems. Work to keep bed rituals and bedtime consistent and keep their room in the same condition each night. Set consistent limits that are communicated clearly if your child is constantly waking or getting out of bed. Encourage the use of a comfort object in anxious children.

4. For Preschoolers

image005At this age children may have difficulty falling asleep and wake often at night. Nighttime fears may also become more common as the imagination develops. Work to keep their nighttime routine relaxing and keep the sleep schedule as consistent as possible. Work to keep the child sleeping in a cool, quiet and dark environment for maximum comfort.

5. For School-Aged Children

image006There is an increasing demand on your child which can limit their time for sleep, but it is still an important part of their development. Exposure to stimulants like the internet or caffeine may also limit your child’s ability to get rest. Teach your children about healthy sleep habits and continue to work to keep your child’s bedtime routine and environment consistent. Encourage your child’s room to be a place of rest keeping it dark, cool and quiet. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, TV or computers around bedtime or in your child’s room.

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