About Your Child’s Sleep

Good sleeping habits contribute greatly to a baby’s healthy development and overall well-being. Your little one’s well-rested brain is perfectly prepared for another day of sustaining a positive relationship with you, for learning to be more physically agile, and for attempting to understand and speak an increasingly complex language. A good night’s sleep makes your child more attentive and engaged the next day, more curious about things, and more motivated to learn and solve problems.

How much is enough sleep?

According to Stanford Children’s Health Hospital, sleep needs for babies vary based on age. Very young infants sleep most of the day, waking only for diapering, feeding, and other care. As a child grows, total sleep hours decrease, and the length of nighttime sleep increases. For example, a newborn typically sleeps about 16 hours a day—about eight hours of nighttime sleep and eight to nine hours of daytime sleep. (See our article, Your Infant’s Sleep Needs: Birth to 4 Months.) To promote optimal health, children 1 to 2 years of age need about 11 hours of nighttime sleep and two to three hours of daytime naps to restore their energy.

The importance of sleep for you

Because your new baby’s sleep-wake cycle is very different from yours, your sleep patterns are sure to be disrupted. When your newborn interrupts your nighttime sleep, you experience what the National Sleep Foundation calls “fragmented” sleep. Fragmented sleep is characterized by frequent awakenings during the normal sleep cycle and difficulty falling back to sleep. Over time, fragmented sleep can result in the obvious—extreme tiredness—but also can lead to depression, forgetfulness, and performance shortfalls.

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is a light-related circadian rhythm. Once your little one’s circadian rhythm is established, both you and your child will benefit from more and better-quality sleep. Until then, consider following the old adage, “Sleep when your baby sleeps.” A 20-minute daytime nap can boost your mood considerably and recharge you for whatever parenting adventures lie ahead.

Establishing an effective bedtime routine is important for meeting your baby’s sleep needs, but it’s equally important for your own health and well-being. When your child is awake, so are you. Helping your child fall asleep more predictably—and stay asleep longer—helps you get the quality sleep you need.

Bedtime routines provide rich, ongoing bonding opportunities with your child. When you caress and rock your baby, read a story, or simply give your little one a bedtime backrub, you are showing that you care about your child’s well-being and security. These positive, early experiences create a healthy environment that helps build sturdy brain architecture and lay the foundations of resilience in your child.

Effective bedtime routines include feeding, bathing, bedtime stories, hugs, kisses, snuggling…and music. While there isn’t a single “right” bedtime routine, what matters is making it a routine—doing the same activities leading up to bedtime in the same order, every night.

Using ParentPal’s Sleep Tracker

Think of the app’s Sleep Tracker as a musical nightlight, featuring 12 lullaby favorites that create a soothing, sleep-inducing environment for your child. After reading a bedtime story, set the music volume to moderate or low—just enough to have a presence in the room. Once the music starts, you can leave the room immediately, or stay with your child for a few minutes more.

Many babies sleep best in the presence of constant noise. The Sleep Tracker offers four white-noise and four soundscapes programs. These programs play for 30 minutes and then stop; or, you can set the program to play continuously.

The Sleep Tracker also has a “restart on cry” setting. The app uses the device’s microphone to detect crying and will try to soothe your baby back to sleep by replaying either the bedtime concert’s softest lullabies or five minutes of white noise.

Finally, the hours of daily sleep and average bedtime are recorded automatically in the app’s Sleep Log, found in both the app’s Sleep feature and the Progress section of the Me tab.

One more thing…please remember the simple expression, “back to sleep”

Putting your baby to sleep in a supine position (flat on one’s back, facing upward) notably reduces the chances of SIDS. After the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) made this recommendation in the early 1990s, the US SIDS rate declined from 120 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1992 to 33 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019, representing a decrease of nearly 73% over 27 years1. (Read more about this important topic in our article, Back to Sleep.)

Remembering this simple adage is a win-win. Your baby will sleep safely, and you’ll get a good night’s sleep with an eased mind.