Routines won’t work for all children however creating a gentle pattern can assist with establishing infant sleep. Watching a baby’s cues, working out why they are crying and providing a predictable routine can help to make bedtime a positive experience.

There is no absolute norm when it comes to hours of sleep but it is often helpful to refer to guidelines. The Australian Govt 24 hr Movement Guideline is one example. This gives an indication of suggested hrs of sleep for a baby and toddler and also provides guidelines on recommended sedentary behaviour as well as screen time. So as an example:

For an Infant

Sleep: 14 to 17 hours (for those aged 0–3 months) and 12 to 16 hours (for those aged 4–11 months) of good quality sleep, including naps.

Sedentary behaviour: Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller, car seat or high chair). Screen time is not recommended. When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Physical activity: Being physically active several times a day in a variety of ways, particularly through supervised interactive floor-based play, including crawling is recommended; more is better. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes of tummy time (supervised), which includes reaching and grasping, pushing and pulling, spread throughout the day while awake.

For toddlers:

Sleep: 11 to 14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps, with consistent sleep and wake‑up times.

Sedentary behaviour: Not being restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., in a stroller, car seat or high chair) or sitting for extended periods. For those younger than 2 years, sedentary screen time is not recommended. For those aged 2 years, sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Physical activity: At least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities, including energetic play, spread throughout the day; more is better.

Remember there is no norm when it comes to babies and toddlers sleep; guidelines are very useful but be sure to ask for help if you are unsure! It might also be beneficial for you to discuss these guidelines with the parents of the children in your care, to ensure you both have a holistic understanding of what is taking place in the child's life.

This article was written by Cindy Davenport, Clinical Director, MCHN, RN, Safe Sleep Space and originally published on the Safe Sleep Space website.