Baby's first year

Your baby will have their own pattern of waking and sleeping. Some sleep for many hours at a time while others sleep for shorter periods. Some will sleep through the night while others won’t. 

All babies are different, but it is normal for healthy babies to wake up during the night in their first few months of life. Your newborn baby has a very small stomach and will wake at least every two hours to feed.

On this page:

How will I know when my baby is tired?

Your baby will become fussy or cry when they get tired. They may rub their eyes, pull on their ears, or even stare off into space. Put your baby down for bedtime or a nap when your baby shows these signs.

How much sleep should my baby have?

The amount of time a baby sleeps can be anywhere between 8 and 18 hours a day.

Do not worry about keeping your home silent during the day.  While your baby sleeps during the day, it's good for them to get used to sleeping through a certain amount of noise.

Try to sleep when your baby sleeps in the early days. But it is important to teach your baby the difference between day and night. Your baby will learn that night-time is for sleeping if during the night you: 

  • Keep the lights down low or use a night light
  • Do not talk much and keep your voice quiet  
  • Put your baby down as soon as you have fed and changed them
  • Do not change your baby unless they need it
  • Do not play with your baby

There's more information in the NHS guide Helping your baby to sleep.

Make sure your baby is safe while they sleep

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – sometimes known as “cot death” – is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby. It is rare and the chance of it affecting your baby is very low. However it can still happen and there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby.

The risk of SIDS can be further reduced by following the dos and don’ts below:


  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep in a clear, separate sleep space such as a cot or Moses basket
  • Place your baby in the "feet to foot" position – with their feet touching the end of the cot, Moses basket, or pram
  • Keep your baby's head uncovered, their blanket should be tucked in no higher than their shoulders, baby’s do not need hats indoors
  • Let your baby sleep in a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months both day and night
  • Use a mattress that's firm, flat, waterproof and in good condition
  • Breastfeed your baby if you can, our breastfeeding page has more information
  • Keep your baby smoke free day and night
  • Follow The Lullaby Trust’s advice on how to use a sling or baby-carrier safely, if you use one 

Do not

  • Sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby
  • Share a bed with your baby if you or your partner smoke or take drugs or medication which makes you drowsy
  • Share a bed with your baby if you or your partner have recently drunk any alcohol 
  • Share a bed with your baby if your baby was born prematurely or weighed under 2.5kg when they were born
  • Let your baby get too hot or too cold – a room temperature of 16°C to 20°C, with light bedding or a lightweight baby sleeping bag, will provide a comfortable sleeping environment for your baby

Babies do not require much to sleep and specifically:

  • No pillows or duvets
  • No cot bumpers
  • No soft toys
  • No loose bedding
  • No pods or nest
  • No products (such as wedges or straps) that will keep your baby in one sleeping position.

Lullaby Trust has a PDF guide for parents on safer sleep for babies. The NHS also has guidance on reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Your new baby should sleep in the same room as you for the first 6 months for sleep day and night. The Lullaby Trust's Safer sleep from day one is a practical guide for parents to read and share with any grandparents. There is information on:

  • What your baby needs
  • What not to buy
  • How to co-sleep more safely
  • Premature and low birth weight babies
  • Slings and baby carriers

Bedtime routines

You can introduce a bedtime routine when your baby is about 3 months old.  

Following the same steps every night at the same time will help your baby to realise that it's nearly time to go to sleep. A bedtime routine helps them settle and sleep quicker and longer.

Your bedtime routine could include: 

  • Giving your baby a bath
  • Cleaning their teeth 
  • Changing them into their night clothes
  • Reading them a bedtime story
  • Singing them a lullaby or playing relaxing music like night time songs by Super Simple songs on YouTube.  
  • Giving your baby a cuddle or a gentle massage  
  • Saying goodnight to everyone
  • Dimming the lights

It’s a good idea to limit screen time before bedtime and keep screens out of bedrooms. The light will stimulate your child and make winding down more difficult.

The Sleep Charity has lots of further information and resources and so does BASIS (Baby Sleep Information Source).

Contact your health visitor for more advice.

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The content of this page has been co-produced in partnership with The Lullaby Trust.

Last updated on 14 February 2024