Kids and Sleep:  Infancy Through Elementary School

One of the great lessons that I had to learn as a new father was that my life was no longer my own, and that pertained to all of its facets.  This especially included sleep, which became far more dear than I ever realized it could.  So what can you expect from the typical child as she moves through life’s pipeline?

While no child is alike, their bodies have similar needs and the following chart summarizes what the typical child/teen needs in terms of hours of daily sleep.


Hourly Sleep Needs by Age
Child’s Age Daily Naps Night-time Sleep/Hours Total Daily Sleep/Hours
1 week – 4 weeks Intermittent Intermittent 15 – 16
2 – 4 months 2 @ 2 Hrs/Ea 2 @ 6 15 – 16
4 months – 1 year 2 @ 2 Hrs/Ea 10 – 12 14 – 16
1 year – 2 years 1 @ 2 Hrs/Ea 10 – 12 12 – 14
2 years – 3 years 1 @ 1 Hr/Ea 10 – 12 11 – 13
3 years – 6 years 0 10 – 12 10 – 12
6 years – 12 years 0 8 – 9 8 – 9
13 years – 18 years 0 9 + 9 +

 Data: and

Bear in mind that the first several months will appear chaotic as the child will sleep intermittently and wake regularly through the night for feeding.  It’s your job – both Mom and Dad – through these months to help your infant adapt to a regular schedule that includes sleeping through the night without feeding and obtaining sufficient and routine naps.  But the upshot for many is that during that first year, the night-time feedings will disappear and the child will begin to nap regularly – you might not believe it while in the midst of the chaos, but it will happen.

After about three years of age, the naps will disappear and your child will still need significantly more sleep than you but this will diminish as well. 

Still, nightly bedtimes and routines matter.  They help the child’s body learn to prepare for sleep and your child will usually look forward to the wind-down from the day.  My youngest is still in elementary school and one of the best parts of that pre-teen age is that the bedtimes are earlier, which permits me some of my own quiet time after a full day of work and the normalized chaos that comes from children.

That changes however, when the kids reach the teen years.  Then the needs change, as well as the surrounding environment.

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