Infant Sleep

July 17, 2017

What are normal sleep patterns for age?

When discussing “sleep normals” it should be remembered that there is some variation between different infants, and different ages. It is best to seek our individual advice to determine if your infant is in a normal range.

A sleep problem is any sleep pattern that interferes with the refreshing nature of sleep or that appreciably disrupts the sleep of others. A sleep problem in young children also can be defined solely by the context of parental expectations - not all problems are abnormal, nor do they all need treatment. (5)

The normal sleep patterns change at each age. The newborn sleep pattern is very different to the baby at 2-3 months, 5-6 months, 7-10 months, and 10-12 months, and beyond (1, 6, 7).

At our practice we assess your baby/child’s sleep patterns, and put them in the context of research into “normal infant sleep,” and how this is affecting your baby’s and your health.

What affects sleep?

Sleep is influenced by numerous factors. These can include gestational age, environment, culture, settling skills, habits and other factors. In the infant this is all complicated by unique anatomy and an immature nervous system (8).

Certain medical conditions (e g. cerebral palsy, autism, and other developmental disabilities) have a higher incidence of sleep difficulties. Acute illnesses and teething can affect sleep (9), but this effect is usually short term in nature.

(Copyright Adam Stewart 2017)


1. Hanan M El Shakankiry. Sleep physiology and sleep disorders in childhood. Nature and Science of Sleep 2011:3 101–114)
2. Matriciani, LA et al. Never Enough Sleep: A Brief History of Sleep Recommendations for Children. Pediatrics 2012;129;548)
3. Lam P, et al. Outcomes of Infant Sleep Problems: A Longitudinal Study of Sleep, Behavior, and Maternal Well-Being, Pediatrics 2003;111:e203–e207
4. Goyal, D et al. Fragmented maternal sleep is more strongly correlated with depressive symptoms than infant temperament at three months postpartum. Arch Womens Ment Health (2009) 12:229–237)
5. Davis KF, Parker, KP and Montgomery GL. Sleep in infants and young children: part two: common sleep problems. J Pediatr Health Care 2004; 18:130-137
6. McLaughlin Crabtree V, Williams NA. Normal Sleep in Children and Adolescents. Child Adolesc Psychiatric Clin N Am 2009; 18:799–811
7. Iglowstein I et al.  Sleep Duration From Infancy to Adolescence: Reference Values and Generational Trends. Pediatrics 2003;111;302-307)
8. Halbower AC and Marcus CL. Sleep disorders in children. Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine 2003; 9:471-476
9.  Hoban TF. Sleep and Its disorders in children. Seminars in Neurology 2004; 24:327-340