Your Baby’s First Year Sleep Routine

Key Points:

  1. Understand that the sleep patterns of newborns are influenced by various factors.
  2. Learn guidelines to recognise normal baby sleep routines while acknowledging individual differences.
  3. Discover sleep needs and cycles for babies from 0-12 months, including tips for settling.
  4. Access professional support for baby sleep routines through Nourish Baby's phone consultations.

Your Baby’s First Year Sleep Routine

There are lots of things for newborns to learn in their first year of life. You probably take it for granted as an adult, but one of the things babies learn is how to sleep and wake.

The sleep patterns of newborns and older babies can be chaotic. They’re affected by emotions, hunger, energy levels and comfort, and it can be difficult to get your baby to settle when you want them to.

In this article, we’re going to discuss your baby’s sleep routine in their first year of life. While we will provide some guidelines to help you understand what’s normal for a young baby, it’s important to know that every baby is different.

Your child will develop their own sleeping habits and schedule. The best thing you can do is offer a positive and consistent routine that aligns with their body’s needs.

How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?

The amount of sleep your baby needs depends on their age. Sleep cycles develop quickly during the first 12 months of your baby’s life, and you can expect their sleeping and napping routine to change regularly.

We have put together a table that offers a general idea of how long your baby should be sleeping over a 24 hour period:


Sleep Cycle

Total Sleep

0-3 Months

20-50 minutes

12-16 hrs

3-6 Months

2-3 hours

10-18 hrs

6-12 Months

6-12 hours

10-14 hrs

 “Sleep Cycle” refers to how long your baby will sleep at one time. As you can see, newborns sleep in short bursts, and babies typically begin sleeping through the night at around 6 months old.

Every baby is different. Your baby may sleep for more or less time, or they may have greater difficulty settling than other babies.

Seek advice from a professional if you are struggling with sleep and settling. The stress caused by a restless baby can have a genuine impact on the health and wellbeing of parents. It’s important to address the issue with professional help as soon as you can.


Baby Sleep Routine: 0-3 Months

Babies need the most sleep in the first 3 months of their lives.
As newborns, babies have yet to develop a natural circadian rhythm, so their bodies cannot tell the difference between day and night. They also have small stomachs, so newborns need to be fed every 2-3 hours.
This translates into approximately 12-16 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. It’s normal for breastfed newborns to sleep in 20-50 minute cycles, waking fully every 2-3 hours for a feed. Formula fed babies tend to wake every 3-4 hours for a feed.
As your baby grows and adjusts to the day-night cycle, they will develop a semi-regular sleep routine. Their day typically begins around 7am, with babies this age going down around 10pm.

Sleep Tips for 0-3 Month-Olds

Sleep and settling can often be challenging for newborns and very young babies. Some babies are more difficult to settle than others. You can use the following tips to help a 0-3 month old baby settle:
  1. Learning how to recognise when your baby is tired
  2. Feeding every 2-3 hours
  3. Waking your baby to feed if their daytime naps run for longer than 2-3 hours
  4. Checking your baby isn’t too hot or too cold
  5. Putting them in their bassinet or cot when they are still awake, but showing signs of tiredness
  6. Establishing a consistent routine, such as feeding and playing with them before putting them down to sleep
  7. Using techniques such as touch, music, gentle shushing and motion (e.g. swain in your arms) to help your baby settle

Baby Sleep Routine: 3-6 Months

At 3-6 months old, babies have usually learned to tell the difference between day and night. Their sleep routine will be similar to yours, but you can expect them to nap during the day and wake during the night.

It’s common for babies at 3-6 months to start their day around 6am, and go down for the night at around 9pm.

This is also the age where your baby starts to develop mobility, so it’s no longer safe to swaddle them and keep them in a bassinet. Parents often move their babies to a cot at this age – many also take this chance to move their baby to a separate room.

Even though your 3-6 month old is sleeping in a cot on their own, you should expect them to wake every few hours to play, cuddle or feed.

Sleep Tips for 3-6 Month-Olds

Babies begin learning self-settling habits at 3-6 months old. As you move them into their own cot (and/or into their own room), they may experience some separation anxiety. This is because they associate you with safety and comfort, and it’s normal.

You can try the following settling techniques for a 3-6 month old baby:

  1. Learning how to recognise when your baby is tired
  2. Placing your baby in their cot when they are still awake, but showing signs of tiredness
  3. Establishing a consistent routine, such as feeding and playing with them before putting them down to sleep
  4. Establishing a routine before their normal bedtime – e.g. feeding, bathing and moving them to their cot

Baby Sleep Routine: 6-12 Months

Babies develop a regular sleep routine at 6-12 months old. Their circadian rhythm is now formed, and your baby should be able to sleep through the night. They still need plenty of rest, with most babies sleeping for 10-14 hours in a 24-hour period.

At this stage, babies will also learn how to self-settle, which means they will be more likely to go back to sleep on their own. It may take your baby more or less time to learn how to self-settle and sleep through the night.

Because babies aged 6-12 months can sleep through the night, they typically only need a nap about twice per day. They’ll nap for about 1-2 hours at a time. Napping during the day is important for your baby’s development.

Sleep Tips for 6-12 Month-Olds

Your baby’s sleep routine will become more predictable once they’re able to sleep through the night. While they can often self-soothe and settle at this age, they’ll still need your help with setting a routine and getting to sleep.

You can use the following tips to help a 6-12 month old baby settle:

  1. Learning how to recognise when your baby is tired
  2. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine
  3. Sleeping in your baby’s room to reduce their anxiety
  4. Staying in your baby’s room until they fall asleep, then leaving
  5. Helping your baby settle and sleep when they show signs of discomfort

Establish a Newborn Sleep Routine With Nourish Baby!

Sleep and settling can be one of the most challenging parts of becoming a parent. Particularly when babies are very young, sleep can be difficult, and it’s often frustrating to deal with.

Learning more about your baby and establishing a newborn sleep routine is the best thing you can do to help your baby drift off to sleep. If you’re unsure where to start, Nourish Baby offers sleep support that can help you and your baby rest easily!

Our sleep support is delivered through convenient phone consultations. Our consultants are qualified health professionals who can provide tailored strategies to address concerns about your baby’s sleep habits.

You can contact us for more information, or book a sleep and settling call if you’re concerned about your newborn’s sleep routine.


About the Author: Jane Barry - Your Health Content Expert

Jane Barry is a registered nurse, midwife, and child health nurse with a passion for combining clinical expertise and writing. She has nearly 30 years of specialist experience in child health nursing and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Applied Science (Nursing). Jane specialises in women’s health, parenting, pregnancy, babies and maternity care, child health, nutrition, feeding, teething, and dental health issues.

An active member of AHPRA, The Australasian Medical Writer’s Association, Health Writer Hub, and the Australian College of Children and Young People’s Nurses, Jane Barry delivers health content with professionalism and clarity.

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