Baby Sleep Stages – What to Expect

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So you’ve hit a stumbling block! Has sleep suddenly become a really big deal? Here we’ll talk you through what to expect as baby grows and develops through various baby sleep stages!

Often there isn’t a lot of talk about sleep at the hospital and baby may still dreamily sleep for the first few days anyway. Plus you don’t have to wash, clean, cook or shop when you’re in hospital. Then you arrive home…

Sleep suddenly becomes like gold – a premium commodity in your household. It’s completely normal to worry about your baby’s sleep. Is baby getting enough? Too much? The first year of your child’s life can be the most difficult sleep wise. There’s lots of advice out there like everyone telling you to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ but it’s hard when you are learning this new parenting gig or have other children to worry about!

How Much Sleep Does A Baby Need?

According to the Sleep Health Foundation of Australia the following is a guide
of recommended sleep for babies and toddlers:

14-17 hours recommended per day
Not recommended – less than 11 hours or more than 19 hours

12 – 15 hours recommended per day
Not recommended – less than 10 hours or more than 18 hours

11-14 hours recommended per day
Not recommended – less than 9 hours or more than 16 hours

Baby Sleep Stages – What to Expect

We’ve prepared some guidelines to try to help you settle your baby and establish a nap and bedtime routine that suits you and your family circumstances. Here’s what to expect at each age and stage. Here at Bubbaroo we’ve also got a swaddle or baby sleeping bag to best suit each age and stage of sleep for baby.

Baby asleep in Bubbaroo Joey Pouch Swaddle Wrap

Newborn to three months

The first 3 months of you baby’s life are known as the fourth trimester.  New parents are told newborns just sleep and eat, and it all sounds so simple, until your tiny little one won’t sleep for love nor money. Generally, newborns will start to get overtired if they’re awake for more than one to one and a half hours. It’s an individual choice if your family is following a sleep routine, but regardless, you need to be aware of the tired signs, which warn you that baby is ready to sleep. Miss these, and you’ll probably have a very upset baby in your arms.

Some tell-tale newborn tired signs are:

– yawning

– clenching fists

– pulling at ears

– arching backwards

– sucking on fingers

– jerky limb movement

– disengaging or diverting attention

Swaddling your baby helps to re-create the womb environment without being too restrictive or like a strait-jacket.  I designed the Joey Pouch Swaddle Wrap after the experience I had with my newborn son.  The Joey Pouch is a swaddle that allows for natural movement of baby’s arms and legs.  It allows your baby to sleep in the natural arms up position, while protecting against hip dysplasia and is a great choice for this age. Babies can have a very strong startle reflex that disturbs their sleep. Research shows that swaddling a baby in the first few months of life helps baby to settle to sleep for longer.

Three to six months

When your baby hits about four months they should start to be able to tell night from day, and therefore may settle into more ‘normal’ sleep cycles. You can reinforce these sleep patterns by instituting more regular nap and bed times, trying to stick to a fairly consistent bedtime routine and making sure that when baby wakes during the night, you keep the atmosphere as dark and quiet as possible.

Ensure that the time before bed is calm and peaceful, so that this can become part of the recognised sleep routine.

From about four months your baby may start to show signs of being able to roll from their back to their tummy. This can be a difficult time for sleep, because babies who have been swaddled might start rolling around in the cot and waking themselves up. Even if your baby has loved being swaddled, once they start showing signs that they’re about to roll it’s time to begin the transition to a different type of bedding. Something like the Joey Pod from Bubbaroo is a good choice here, because it’s adaptable. It can allow you to make the transition from fully swaddled, to one arm out, to both arms out, at the pace that suits you and your baby. The Joey Pod Transitional Swaddle Bag is a versatile product for baby’s sleep stages.

Joey Pod Transitional Swaddle Bag

Six to nine months

Typically by six months, your baby will be sleeping around 14 hours a day. Your baby will almost certainly be rolling around the cot and therefore you must stop swaddling as it’s no longer safe. If you’ve transitioned out of swaddling then now may be the time to instill good sleep patterns by creating consistent nap and bedtime routines. A Joey Swag Baby Sleeping Bag is helpful at this stage, because not only will it give you peace of mind that your baby is warm enough (no kicking off the covers!), but once it forms part of the regular bedtime routine it will start to become a sleep cue for your child.

Your baby may have fallen into a fairly regular sleep routine over the past few weeks, only to begin waking during the night, and

fight going back to sleep. Try and be consistent if this happens with your baby, and keep the sleep environment dark and quiet.

Baby Sleeping Bag

Nine to 12 months

At this age, it’s time to reinforce the good work that’s been done over the past few months. Continue with bedtime ritual – bath, baby sleeping bag, bed-time story and down to sleep is a great option. Baby sleep routine - bedtime story Also take note of how you respond to night waking. While each baby is different, at this age, most babies are able to settle themselves back to sleep. As with everything, the key is consistency. Babies can fall out of good routines after illness or changes like holidays, but if you stick to what you were doing originally, there’s a good chance you’ll all be back on track before long. Baby sleep stages are exactly that – just a stage!

During the day, your baby will be overtired once she’s been up for somewhere between two and three hours. Here are some tired signs to look out for at this age:


-food fussiness


-becoming clumsy


12 to 24 months

Many parents are concerned about their little ones dropping sleeps after the age of one. It’s good to remember that, particularly at this age, sleep promotes sleep – so good day sleeps will often translate into a good night’s sleep.

Also remember that your child is now going through some pretty big development leaps, like crawling and walking, and this can also impact sleep. The key is consistency with the nap and bedtime routines and by now you’ll be an expert at recognising those tired signs. Your baby will hopefully also respond predictably to the sleep cue of a baby sleeping bag, if you’ve used one. This is particularly helpful when out and about – if you know your child needs a nap but you can’t put them into their regular cot, a cue like a baby sleeping bag should help them get the rest they need no matter where you are.

Toddler Baby Sleeping Bag

Two to three years

By this age most parents are hoping that the sleep issues will no longer be a problem. However, many children aged two to three years are still waking a couple of times a night. If it’s happening at your place, don’t worry! There are often valid reasons why your toddler might be waking such as:

-transitioning to or already sleeping in a bed

-falling out of bed because it’s new to them

-getting cold because they’re kicking their covers off in the night

-arrival of a new sibling

-new learning such as toilet training may make them get out of bed

It’s all about about keeping up a consistent bedtime routine. It’s very important to make sure you give your child enough time to wind down before going to bed. You should also follow the cues that help your child get to sleep. Read more in our blog on ‘Bedtime Routines’. Try to be consistent by keeping your little one in their bed rather than bringing them into yours. I know this can be all too easy when you’re tired in the middle of the night.  In our house coming in to mum and dad’s bed was for in the morning before breakfast where we could all snuggle in together!

At any stage if you feel that there may be any health concerns as to why your baby may not be sleeping then you should take your child to your GP or paediatrician.  Some children, mine included, have middle ear issues and when they had a flare up this would impact their sleep in a very major way.

What to Expect for An Older Child

Many parents experience sleep issues with children as they grow. Sleep is just as important for your growing child as it was when they were a baby. Sleep is constantly evolving from bed time to the amount of sleep needed – this will change constantly throughout your child’s life. Establishing good sleep habits is a lifelong gift that you can give our child.

Check out our blog “Helping Your Older Sleep” for more ways to continue a good sleep pattern with your older child.

Safe Sleep

Whatever the age of your child, we recommend that you follow the Red Nose safe sleep guide for your sleep stages. Read more here.

Why Bubbaroo?

Bubbaroo is a trusted Australian sleepwear brand offering a range of premium quality swaddles and baby sleeping bags Bubbaroo Sleeping Bag Rangefor children aged from birth all the way through to 6 years old. Our baby sleeping bags are the longest on the market and will last your child beyond the age range stated.  You can check out our full range for every baby sleep stage at Bubbaroo. Our Platinum range of baby sleeping bags are 100% natural – made of organic 500 thread count cotton sateen and padded with Australian Merino Wool. Read our blog ‘Why Wool Helps Baby Sleep’.

As parents, we know that every baby is different, and these baby sleep stages are only a guide. Remember to talk to your health professional if you have any concerns about your child’s sleep or health generally – trust your gut mama bear! Remember, as with most things in childhood, “it’s just a stage”. It won’t last forever. So once baby is finally asleep, take a minute to watch their beautiful, peaceful faces. Rest assured that you’re doing an amazing job and this too shall pass.

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Nicole Cassey

written by

Nicole Cassey

Nicole Cassey, Mum to Jacob and Emily, founder and general dog’s body at Bubbaroo. Nicole was inspired to create Bubbaroo and Australia’s first swaddle after the personal experience she had with her first child, Jacob.

Nicole explains "It is such a steep learning curve becoming a parent. Getting to know the baby you created and finding your groove as a parent. You sometimes feel like you need to become a detective to try to interpret your baby's cues, personality, cries and behaviour. This is my passion to help parents on their journey, especially new parents as they transition to parenthood."

Nicole has a passion for sharing knowledge and community, regularly organising and presenting at various expectant parent and sleep workshops. Nicole ensures she is up to date with the latest evidence-based safe sleep and health research. Bubbaroo collaborates with experts in their field that share similar values and philosophies and have a passion for helping and supporting parents and expectant parents.

Nicole’s attention to detail with the creation of her premium quality baby, toddler and child sleepwear is exceptional. Nicole has been committed to ensure that Bubbaroo is not just a mass market brand producing products, Nicole’s focus is on helping your baby sleep safely in products that stand the test of time.

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