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How Much Sleep do Kids Need by Age?

How Much Sleep do Kids Need by Age?

Sleep is essential at any age, but when it comes to babies and children, it’s one of the most significant contributing factors to healthy brain and body development.

Quality sleep also plays a crucial role in children’s overall mood and happiness, and if they’re not getting enough shut-eye, behavioral problems can arise.

But as kids develop, their sleep requirements change drastically, and figuring out the optimum hours of sleep your child needs will depend on their age.

So, in this post, I’ll explain the recommended daily sleep needs for all children, from newborn babies and infants to older teenagers and everyone in between.

How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?

AgeRecommended sleep per day
0 to 4 Months Old14 to 17 hours
4 to 12 Months Old12 to 15 Hours
1 to 2 years old11 to 14 hours
3 to 5 years old10 to 13 hours
6 to 13 years old9 to 11 hours
14 to 17 years old8 to 10 hours
How Much Sleep Does My Child Need

Below, I’ll break down the optimum amount of sleep children should be getting in any 24 hours, depending on their age. The targets for each group also include naps, as well as nightly sleep.

These recommendations are provided by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), one of the most respected sources for cutting-edge sleep science and research.

Still, it’s important to remember these specifications are meant as a guide, and just like adults, the amount of sleep children need varies between individuals and may change slightly from day to day.

1. Newborns (0 to 4 Months Old)

Newborns (0 to 4 Months Old)

Recommended sleep per day: 14 to 17 hours

Newborns aged 0-4 months spend most of their time asleep, but these sleep hours are usually fragmented into multiple short naps to allow for things like feeding and changing.

As most parents will know, newborns rarely sleep through the night, and establishing a regular sleep pattern can take many months to achieve.

So don’t worry if your little one’s sleep fluctuates at this early stage; it’s perfectly natural and is why the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) only provides sleep quantity guidelines for babies over four months old.

That being said, the NSF advises that newborns get between 14 and 17 hours of sleep in any 24-hour period. They also acknowledge that for some children, 18-19 hours may be more appropriate, while others thrive on as few as 11 hours. Still, anything outside these wider parameters isn’t recommended.

2. Infants (4 to 12 Months Old)

Infants (4 to 12 Months Old)

Recommended Sleep Per Day: 12 to 15 Hours

Just like newborns, most infants will still be spending the majority of their time asleep, and these hours will be fragmented into multiple short naps, along with their main nightly sleep.

Babies’ brains and bodies develop rapidly at this age, and sleep is critical to optimizing the process.

While an infant is asleep, new neural networks are formed, establishing a learning, memory, and other cognitive skills. Plus, during this period of accelerated growth, getting the right amount of quality sleep enhances a baby’s physical development, too.

To promote optimal health and wellbeing in infants, the NSF recommends that children aged 4 to 12 months get between 12 and 15 hours of sleep in any 24-hour period.

They also note that some individuals need as few as 10 hours, and others need up to 18 hours per day, but anything outside of this range can be detrimental.

When Will My Baby Start to Sleep Through The Night?

If you’re a sleep-deprived parent, you’re probably desperate for your baby to finally begin sleeping through the night and adopting a more parent-friendly sleep routine.

But don’t panic if it’s taking longer than you’d hoped. Studies show that many babies up to 12 months old still wake up frequently during the night. In fact, almost 30% of one-year-olds don’t sleep for six consecutive hours, and around 45% aren’t yet getting a full 8 hours in one block.

At this stage, the most important thing is that your child is getting enough quality sleep in a full 24-hour period. And don’t worry; a full and continuous 6-8 hours per night will come in time.

1. Toddlers (1 to 2 years old)

Toddlers (1 to 2 years old)

Recommended sleep per day: 11 to 14 hours

Children aged 1-2 years old have similar sleep requirements to infants, and the optimal range for this group is between 11 to 14 hours per day.

Of course, everyone is different, and in some circumstances, toddlers will thrive on a little more or a little less. And so, the NSF guidelines state that anything between 9 and 16 hours per day might be more appropriate, providing that the child is happy, healthy, and showing normal signs of development.

During this phase, you’ll hopefully see an improvement in your baby’s sleep pattern, with more consecutive sleep hours during the night. This longer nightly sleep will decrease napping time, but that being said, regular naps are still incredibly beneficial at this age.

Most toddlers do best with two naps per day, but as they reach the older end of this age range, this could drop down to just one.

2. Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old)

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old)

Recommended sleep per day: 10 to 13 hours

Preschoolers aged between 3 and 5 will gradually begin to sleep for longer periods during the night, and as a result, naps become shorter, less frequent, and may even disappear altogether.

The NSF recommends that children in this age bracket get between 10 and 13 hours of sleep in any 24-hour period, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) agrees.

That being said, according to the NSF, a smaller percentage of healthy preschool-aged children need just 8 hours per day, while others may still need up to 14.

It’s also important to note that many common sleep problems can occur at this age, such as trouble getting out of bed in the morning and issues like nightmares and night terrors.

One of the best ways to avoid disordered sleep in preschoolers is to set a consistent bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible.

3. School-age Children (6 to 13 years old)

School-age Children (6 to 13 years old)

Recommended sleep per day: 9 to 11 hours

This is the most varied age group of all, and a 6-year-old will likely have quite different sleep needs than a 13-year-old.

The NSF guidelines for school-age kids state that 9-11 hours per day is optimal. That being said, younger children may need up to 12 hours, whereas older kids may thrive with as little as 8.

Generally speaking, the older the child, the less sleep they need, but no matter what end of the age range your school-aged child is, sticking to a consistent sleep routine is crucial to ensuring they get an optimal amount of shut-eye.

By the time most kids are in school, they’ve already developed a relationship with technology, so it’s important to monitor screen time to help their kids get the best night’s sleep possible.

Blue light from cell phones and tablets can play havoc with an adult’s circadian rhythm, and the effects can be even more profound for children.

So, it’s advised to turn off all blue light emitting devices at least one hour before bed and instead use that time to practice relaxing nightly routines, such as showering or bathing, brushing teeth, and reading a book independently or with a parent.

4. Teenagers (14 to 17 years old)

Teenagers (14 to 17 years old)

Recommended sleep per day: 8 to 10 hours

By the time your child is a fully-fledged teenager, their sleep needs are pretty similar to those of an adult. 

The NSF recommends that most teens between 14 and 17 years old get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, and anything less than 7 is detrimental. Likewise, if your teenager is sleeping more than 11 hours per night, then it’s time to implement a new routine.

As many parents of teenagers will know, this is the age where kids can develop a habit of sleeping late, especially on the weekends when there’s no need to wake up for school.

But staying in bed too long in the morning will disrupt your teenager’s healthy sleep pattern and lead to tiredness and lower energy levels during the week.

So, as much as possible, encourage your teen to stick to a regular sleep routine to ensure their developing brains and bodies get the right amount of rest they need.

Conclusion

As you can see, the amount of sleep your child needs varies greatly depending on their age.

As kids get older, their sleep requirements evolve, and gradually, they transition from sleeping most of the day to developing a typical optimal adult schedule of 7-8 hours per night.

Hopefully, the guidelines above will help you ensure that your child gets the right measure of sleep to enjoy the best possible start in life.

Reference

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27713765/
  2. https://www.sleephealthjournal.org/article/S2352-7218%252815%252900015-7/fulltext
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073412/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4877308/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30420470/
  6. https://www.kidshealth.org/en/parents/screentime-bigkids.html