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Is My Baby Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep. As a new parent, it seems like a long time since you had any. As your baby grew inside you, getting comfortable at night may have caused you to get less sleep. Now your little bundle has arrived, and sleep is elusive. The worry you felt about not getting sleep for yourself has now shifted to “Is my baby getting enough sleep?” You are not alone in asking that question. 

What happens during sleep for babies? There is rapid growth and development of the brain, the body, emotions and new behaviours.1 For babies, growth hormones are released during sleep. There is an increase in the production of proteins as well that help with cell growth. It is understandable that as a parent you may worry that your baby is not getting enough sleep.

We know babies have a short sleep cycle. They wake to feed every one to three hours. Their sleep patterns are often irregular in the first four months of life. There are many parenting articles that reference how much sleep is needed. The Canadian Pediatric Society2, the American Academy of Pediatrics3and the American Association of Sleep Medicine3 do not support a prescribed amount of sleep for young babies. There are many fluctuations in their sleep patterns and this is considered normal. They are still able to meet their developmental milestones easily.

Babies over four months of age begin to sleep longer periods, perhaps because they are more active but also because brain development continues at a phenomenal rate. It is normal for babies in this age group to wake several times without harm to their growth or development. Many can self soothe to return to sleep; others require some help to return to sleep. Try not to be fooled by the baby that moves around a lot in their crib. Movement does not indicate they are awake. 

The area of concern is less about the number of hours a baby or child sleeps but more about the behaviour you see in them if lack of sleep is an issue. They may be irritable or fussy, difficult to settle, feed poorly or not be meeting their developmental milestones. Of course, there could be other reasons for this as well. If you are concerned, consult your health care provider.

Try not to worry about how much sleep your baby gets. They will usually get the amount they need.


  1. Sleep Foundation. (2020, September 24). How Much Sleep Do Kids Need? Retrieved from Sleep Foundation.
  2. Canadian Pediatric Society. (2017, December). Healthy Sleep For Your Baby and Child. Retrieved from Canadian Pediatric Society Caring For Kids.
  3. Cleveland Clinic. (2020, March 17). Sleep In Your Baby’s First Year. Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic.


Submitted by Shelley Hlymbicky RN, IBCLC for the Middlesex-London Community Early Years Partnership


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