Helping an infant to develop healthy sleep habits will help the infant to learn to fall asleep, stay asleep and fall back to sleep on her own. When putting an infant to sleep, resist the urge to rock the infant to sleep. Instead, when the infant is drowsy but still awake, put her into her crib where she can fall asleep on her own. Infants should always be put on their backs to sleep.
Full-term newborns require about 16 to 17 hours of sleep per 24 hour period. Newborns may take four to six naps per day, but the amount of daytime and nighttime sleep will vary among newborns.
By three months of age an infant’s sleep schedule becomes more predictable. An infant’s total sleep requirement will decrease to about 15 hours per 24 hour period and consist of three to four naps.
By six months, an infant will need about 14 to 15 hours of sleep per 24 hour period. At six months most infants will take two solid naps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each nap may last up to two hours. By this stage most infants are sleeping through the night.
By nine to 12 months, most children require 13.5 to 14 hours of sleep per 24 hour period. Most children will sleep around 11 hours during the night and continue to take two naps each day. During the night an infant at this stage may wake in efforts to secure attention. Comfort items can help to reassure the child and help him to fall back to sleep.
It’s important to note that a child who seems unusually irritable may be sick. If there is a change in a child’s sleep patterns and the child seems uncomfortable, nannies should discuss these observations with the parents.