Baby sleeping soundly

What Do You Know About Baby Sleep Cycles?

Sleep is an important part of everyone’s life, you and your baby alike. The only bit is that the sleeping patterns of adults and children are different. In order for you to understand if your baby is having enough and comfortable sleep, you have to understand the baby sleep cycles.

I bet this is not all that easy since most of the time they vary greatly from day to day. Understanding the baby sleep cycles will help you as a parent to make sure that your baby gets enough sleep to grow up healthy. Read on and learn some facts about your baby’s naptime, as well as baby sleep cycles.

What Do You Know About Baby Sleep Cycles

Understanding the Baby Sleep Cycles

Every time we get to our beds in the night, both adults and children experience sleep cycles of deep light and deep sleeps. At the early part of the night, both children and adults experience the deep sleep. The cycle then changes, and by morning, a big portion of the population experiences light sleep.

For children, their deep sleep and light sleep lasts for at least 30 minutes and 50 minutes if extends to the longest time possible. As the child grows, the time spans for the light, and deep sleep cycles will gradually increase throughout her childhood.

I bet you have noted that the sleep cycles for babies differ a lot in children, just as the time they take before they are fully asleep. You could be lucky to have a baby who falls asleep very quickly or another one who spends quite some time, say 20 minutes after muttering and fidgeting a lot.

In between the naps, as she transits from one sleep cycle to the other, your baby will wake for some time. If this happens, you need not be afraid that its sleep regression. It is perfectly normal, and every child experiences that. Train your child to be an independent sleeper so that she can put herself back to sleep rather than calling out for you.

Cue baby sleeping

What is Sleep Regression?

Before I became a parent to my two pretty girls, I always heard of sleep regression but never bothered finding out what it was. Parenthood got me reading tons of books, just to be sure that my firstborn was okay with her frequent awakenings at night. Who else wants to know more about baby sleep regression? What do you know about baby sleep regression by the way?

This is a period of time when a baby who has been sleeping very well starts waking up in the night, very many times, more than what can be said to be normal. In the worst case scenario, she may be skipping naps for no reason.

It is not something that you can predict, so if it occurs, you will certainly be caught off guard. Parenting has very many wonderful things associated with it, just as it has some very little bad things. Sleep regression is one of the downsides of parenting.

The Changing Sleep Cycles over Time

  • At Birth

At this time, you will want to keep checking on your little one. It happens to be the most tedious time of parenting. Your baby has light sleep since babies are programmed to have tons of light naps and equally as many awakenings compared to adults.

  • 6 Months and Below

All these little ones do is eat, play and sleep. Playtime probably takes a very small portion of their day, which means that they will be on and off sleep throughout the days and nights for quite some time.

When your baby attains the age of three months, you will have noted a sleep cycle. For the daytime naps, she will have 2 or three daytime naps which last for up to 2 hours.  At night, the number of awakenings will have reduced to probably once or twice. Mummy will have started enjoying bliss and tons of rest time.

  • 6 – 12 months

Within these months, your baby will have made very many development milestones which you just can’t help but marvel about. At night, your little pumpkin will be having tons of uninterrupted sleep for a very long time. For most babies within this age gap, they take a generous nap from 6 pm to 10 pm.

During this time, you can perform your duties with no fear of hearing a baby’s cry after every 30 minutes. Once she wakes up, feeding will be due. Most babies can easily get themselves back to sleep, while others will need their usual prop to fall asleep. This highly depends on how you have trained yours.

About 90 percent of babies still have their daytime naps. For the daytime naps, most of them sleep for a period less than one hour, while others nap for longer. Encourage your baby to be taking daytime naps because they are healthy.

Newborn baby sleeping

  • 12 months to 2 years

As your baby approaches her first birthday, she will sleep better. Very few children will wake up in the middle of the night, say less than 5 percent. The only problem you will probably notice is that your little angel will resist going to sleep during her bedtime at night.

You need not worry about this. Your little one only wants to spend quality time with her parents and siblings. That bonding time when everyone is in the living room is irresistible. It is my best time of the day and wouldn’t forgive myself if I missed it.  I bet the little ones feel the same way I do.

  • From 3 Years

At this age, your baby will probably be going to kindergarten or a daycare center in the neighborhood. This means that they have plenty of play time and so at the end of each day, they are usually very tired and looking forward to bedtime. The most appropriate time to get your little one to bed is at half past seven in the evening or latest at eight o’clock at night.

For a child aged 3-5 years, 11 – 13 hours of sleep will be ideal. Encourage a daytime nap of approximately an hour for your baby too. For children whose age is beyond 5 years, a daytime nap is no longer a necessity. They will be just fine without it.

For the nighttime sleep, make sure that your baby gets 10-11 hours of uninterrupted sleep to get them ready for the next day at school.


I hope that you have learned more about baby sleep cycles and the ages at which you should expect to see some change. That must have been quite some information to take in, but as a parent, it’s the only way you will get to understand your baby’s sleep cycle. As she grows, the longer her nap times will be and the fewer the awakening times will be.

Leave a comment on the article and share with us what you might have noted about your baby’s sleep cycles and the times when you had a false alarm about your baby experiencing sleep regression. Ask questions where you need answers and get comprehensive answers.

About The Author

My name is Tina Peters, the founder and owner of Topbabyadvice. I would like to welcome you all to this blog site: I am so glad that you found your way to this wonderful motherhood and baby care site. I am 28 years old, and I live with my two daughters and my husband. I am so much passionate about mothers and babies.If you have something to share with me, contact me by using my email which is:


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  1. Great article, Tina. When I was still a student I did a talk at Tygerberg Hospital’s Neonatal unit about the sleep cycles, and why it is important for mommies to understand this. My baby hardly ever slept during the day, and when she did it was for exactly 45 minutes at a time, and only once a day. She is 3 and a half now, and still doesn’t nap. Luckily she sleeps like a log during the night!

    • Yes my daughter also only ever slept for about 45 minutes at a time as a baby, IF she she slept at all during the day. I had so many problems with my daughter’s sleeping during the day and night, it was exhausting! Thankfully from 3 years old it got much better and now she normally sleeps through every night.

  2. Thank you for a great article Tina. My daughter was also not a good sleeper from the start. When she was about 4 months old, I just returned to work and the lack of sleep got me big time.

    I decided to buy her the Lulla doll as a sleeping companion because when she lay on me, she can sleep for hours.

    It took about 2 weeks for the Lulla doll to help her with her routine. It really saved me. If she has a sleepless night now, I know something is wrong. Either teething or she is hot.

    We just need to look closely and follow our instincts.

    Thank you!

  3. Great article and spot on when it comes to JD. I’m glad do see that he is on the right track.

    Over the last two weeks or so, I noticed that he doesn’t go to sleep like he used to. He’s not uncomfortable or restless.

    He is full of antics and playful.

    The other night I heard him singing to himself before he finally fell asleep :-). He can’t sing words yet. It’s more like lalalala.

    But it is actually much better for me now. He falls asleep at around half past seven or eight at night and then he sleeps through until six in the morning. I used to get up twice at night.

    He sometimes wake up at four but falls right back to sleep after drinking his bottle.

    I feel like I’m getting some rest and sleeping well myself.

    At one point I started to wonder if I’m ever going to have a normal night’s rest again.

    I bought him this colourful worm when he was four months old. This is his comfort toy when he goes to sleep.

    I chuckle sometimes when I walk past his cot. He sleeps in the funniest positions and the worm is always somewhere in between, draped over his head or underneath him. 😀

  4. Great article my baby boy is now 1 an d still does not like sleeping, some nights he wakes up around the hour and that can be tough. I am lucky if he sleeps during the day.

  5. Great article I had such anxiety with my last baby because my son before her had 3month colic he never slept I would walk around with him in the house like a zombie.It was not a great experience for us but today he’s eight and sleeps like a log. My baby girl loved to sleep I would feel so refreshed in the morning.I also think it’s due to the fact that I gave her annique baby rooibos from birth.she was a calm baby.Shes four years old now and bedtimes are a nightmare she refused to sleep some night and just rolls around until she falls asleep several hours after I put her down.

  6. Thank you Tina. I am still struggling with my baby/ toddler (1 yr) to sleep through altough he has been sleeping through some nights. But lately he has been waking up more frequently….Me and hubby are at wits end…soooo tired especially me…since I am the one getting up at night 2x sometimes 3x a night…

  7. People often have strong opinions about when they think your baby should be sleeping through the night. And, everyone has a different idea of what a good night’s sleep means, the key is to have realistic expectations of sleep.

    I strongly believe that sleep is developmental; some children reach this milestone sooner than others. The trick is to “go with the flow”, I accepted quite early on that I would have a serious lack of sleep for quite some time, we went through two sleep regressions, with my LG waking every hour to nurse and now at 14 months she only wakes up once in 12/13 hours for milk. We did nothing but be there for her at night when she needed us and nurse on demand.

    Be patient. A full night’s sleep is on its way.

  8. great article!!I feel like I can write a whole book on sleep after struggling for 3 years with my son..just grateful it has passed

  9. I’m so glad I started a routine early on with my twins. They sleep, eat, wake up together. They are 1 now, and stil nap in the morning and one nap in the afternoon. Having them do everything together, gives me “my” time to do things around the house.

    One twin is starting to sleep through the night now, but sis is still waking up once 🙂 which I don’t mind, it will feel strange not to wake up and check up on them 🙂

  10. I am really blessed with a little girl who loves to sleep. She slept through the night for the first time when she was seven weeks old and eversince we never had any problems. She is now two years old. After lunch every day she still sleeps for three hours straight.

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