Most new parents devote a lot of attention to the sleep their babies get, always hoping (fingers crossed!) that each overnight stretch gets a little longer. Of course, your little one will eventually get a full night of shut-eye, but newborn and baby sleep generally falls within a range and varies by age. And while it’s tempting to compare your babe with your friend’s, know that your cutie's sleep schedule is unique to her, just like her adorable nose.

Still, if you’re wondering how much sleep babies need and whether yours is on the right track, read on for more about how many hours a day your baby should be sleeping and how to tell if your little one is sleeping too much. Sweet dreams!

How much sleep do babies need?

The amount of sleep your baby needs is based on her age plus a few other important factors. Here's a quick look at ranges of sleep during the first year:

  • Newborn to 3 months. A healthy baby in this age range should get a total of about 14 to 17 hours of sleep over the course of a 24-hour day. She’ll typically snooze in short spurts of two to four hours, waking to be fed, burped, changed and soothed. And while there’s no suggested sleep schedule to follow, your baby will likely rack up eight to 12 hours at night with the rest occurring during two to five daytime naps (though it can vary from baby to baby).
  • 4 to 6 months. During this age span, you can expect your baby to sleep about 12 to 16 hours a day with some overnight stretches reaching five to six hours in a row (what they call "sleeping through the night"). Your little one's naps will grow more consolidated too — look for about three a day by 5 months of age. And your baby's sleep patterns will finally join the rest of the family’s routine as she’ll start sleeping more at night and less during the day.
  • 7 to 11 months. Total sleep remains about the same, but overnight stretches may reach 10 to 12 hours, and naps will consolidate further from three to two.

Other factors that can impact how much sleep newborns and babies get include:

  • Premature birth. If your baby was born prematurely, her sleep numbers will differ from those of full-term infants. Preemies may sleep up to 22 hours a day, depending on how premature they are, and they’ll wake more frequently to feed. As for stringing together bigger chunks of nighttime sleep (six hours or more), preemies won’t get there as quickly. In fact, it may take until they're 10 or 12 months old to achieve this feat.
  • Feeding method. Bottle-fed infants tend to wake up less often at night and sleep for longer periods than their breastfed cousins because formula takes more time to digest. But formula isn’t a magic sleep bullet, either, as both feeding methods still result in the same amount of total sleep. And by the time your baby is 9 months old, any difference between the two is usually no longer apparent. 

As for setting up a sleep schedule for your baby, the first two months aren’t the time to try it. Since your little one needs to nurse or take a bottle every few hours during the newborn stage, establishing a predictable schedule should wait until your baby is in the 3- to 6-month range. 

And remember that safe sleep is critical during the first year of life, so always place your baby on her back (never her tummy) for naps and bedtime. Your baby should also always sleep on a firm surface that's free of soft toys, blankets, pillows and bumpers.

As your little one gains upper body strength, she may surprise you by changing sleep positions and rolling over around at about the 4-month mark (and she’ll push to a sitting position when she's around 9 months old, though the timing of all these milestones can vary). Don’t worry — there's no need to return her to her back at this point, but she’ll still need to start there every time she’s going to sleep.

Can infants sleep too much?

Yes, it’s possible for babies to sleep too much — and it’s definitely not recommended early in infancy. Remember, at 1 month of age your baby should feed at least eight to 12 times in the span of 24 hours, so letting a newborn sleep "all day" or more than the upper limit of 17 hours can mean she’ll miss out on the nutrition she needs.  

Keep in mind that you’ll need to gently rouse your baby if she sleeps longer than four hours during those early weeks. And if she isn’t awake enough to eat at least eight times a day, call your pediatrician for advice.  

What if my baby isn't sleeping enough?

There is also a chance that your baby might be sleeping too little and not clocking the recommended amount of shut-eye for her age.

If your baby sleep log shows that her daytime and nighttime hours fall short of what she should be getting in a 24-hour period, and you see telltale signs of an overtired baby — including persistent fussiness, trouble settling down to sleep at night and short catnaps instead of full naps, to name a few — talk to your pediatrician about how to help your little one get enough sleep.

Getting to know your baby's sleep cues and following a consistent, soothing bedtime routine are among the tips you'll likely get from your doctor. 

As you slog through the early days, weeks and months with your baby, know that she's very likely on the right track when it comes to the amount of sleep she needs. So while it may seem as if no one’s getting enough Zzzs at your house, in time there will be a little more shut-eye for everyone — and soon your baby will be sleeping like a champ.