How to Tell if you Have a High Sleep Needs or a Low Sleep Needs Baby

July 14, 2018
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I am a hardcore Babywise mama.

I start implementing sleep strategies from birth to help my babies become great sleepers (Click here for my post on how to start Babywise from birth!).

It’s not easy: it takes WORK. When you put in all that work, time and effort and then your baby just isn’t sleeping the way you think they should be it’s beyond stressful.

Sleep issues can be frustrating and it can be tempting to just say “I GIVE UP!”

I’ve learned over my years of parenting that sometimes there are sleep struggles simply beyond our control. Enter in the high sleep needs vs low sleep needs baby.

When I think back to my first child as an infant I wish I’d known about high sleep needs and low sleep needs.

I wish I’d been able to tell myself that Kye wasn’t sleeping because his body simply didn’t need the sleep.

Both types of sleep needs children still NEED sleep, but high sleep needs babies tend to be on the higher end of the sleep spectrum whereas low sleep needs one tend to be on the lower end of that sleep spectrum.

Babywise even accounts for this as it provides a range of what is an appropriate amount of sleep at a given age.

I took me until my THIRD child to FINALLY realize and recognize the differences between a high sleep needs and low sleep needs baby.

Having that knowledge has made a WORLD of difference.

My third, Tess, is a low sleep needs.

I learned not to stress it when she wasn’t napping as well because I knew she would still be happy and content.

She dropped naps quicker and is my most flexible when it comes to staying up past bedtime. She can lose out on sleep and still be good to go the next morning!

My fourth, Spear, is a high sleep needs baby.

He’s nearing 8 months old and still is sleeping a solid 2 hours for his “cat nap.”

Normally I’d be stressing and pushing him to drop it but he’s still sleeping solid for all three naps AND solid through the night and simply doesn’t require the awake time that my lower sleep needs baby required.

Dude likes his sleep so I let him have it and will wean down the third nap when he’s ready!

Wondering what type of sleep needs baby you have on your hands? Here are some ways to tell if your baby is high sleep needs or low sleep needs:

Traits of High Sleep Needs Babies

Can’t Handle Long Awake Times

My second baby, Britt, drove me batty because she’d get SO grumpy SO quickly into her awake time.

For the first several months of her life she’d literally eat then go to sleep. Her awake times stayed at 45 minutes for so long. She simply couldn’t handle any extra awake time.

>While Britt was very grumpy while awake, Spear is very happy while awake yet still doesn’t handle long awake times.

At 7 months he typically only stays up for 1 hour and 45 minutes and often times shows signs of being ready for bed even earlier.

Read more over at –> The Journey of Parenthood

This week is a big week of blogging for the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blogging Network (read more about it –> HERE). Our topic is Babywise and sleep. Every day Mon-Fri there will be at least one post on the subject. You can find the links to all of them below:


Val – Chronicles of a Babywise Mom

How To Solve Sleep Problems For Toddlers and Preschoolers

Once you move on up into the toddler and preschool years, sleep troubleshooting often looks different to troubleshooting sleep issues for babies.

Val does a wonderful job of clearly outlining how much mental and physical exercise affects the sleep of toddlers and preschoolers.

She gives helpful tips to work through any issues you might be having.


Caitlin – Twin Mom and More

7 Ways To Establish Good Sleep Habits From Birth (must-read for expecting moms)

Sleep training is often recommended to be started only after a baby is 4-months old. Really, it is up to the parent’s discretion. However, it is never too early to start establishing healthy sleep habits.

Caitlin has written a brilliant post that gives practical and helpful tips to get you started.

This is a perfect post for the new or expecting mom!

Natasha – Let’s Be Brave

Dropping To One Nap

This is often a transition that moms dread because they’re not sure how to go about it.

It can also be daunting wondering what you’re going to do with your child during the hours that they would normally be asleep for.

Natasha has written a great summary of how to know when your child is ready for this transition, as well as how to go about implementing it.


Katrina – Mama’s Organized Chaos

How To Know If Your Child Is Ready To Drop To No Naps

The transition that daunted me more than the 2-1 nap transition was definitely the one where naps are said goodbye to entirely.

Dropping the final nap does not mean that your child does not still need some amount of rest during the day.

Katrina has written up a post that will help you as the parent identify if your child is indeed ready for this last nap transition.

Kim – Team Cartwright

7 Reasons I Want My Kids Awake After Bedtime

Our kids go to bed at the same time almost every night. They very rarely fall asleep straight away, and I personally have no issue with that.

Kim has written this post to address why its totally okay and actually something you might want! Kids don’t have to fall asleep straight away.


Christine – Christine Keys

5 Powerful Reasons Babywise Is Effective For All Kinds of Babies

Has your baby got colic, reflux, or is just high needs?

You may write Babywise off because your baby is considered outside of the range of ‘normal’.

This post is written to encourage you to reconsider as Babywise has been known to be successful for all kinds of babies. In fact, many moms give testament to it making their lives so much easier!

Carrie – Wiley Adventures

Continuing Healthy Sleep Habits With Older Children

There is a ton of information out there about how to implement healthy sleep habits for babies, however, I love that Carrie has written a post about how to continue that with older children.

Older children still have difficulties with sleep at times and still require healthy boundaries in order to flourish.


Emily – The Journey of Parenthood

How to Tell if you Have a High Sleep Needs or a Low Sleep Needs Baby 

Believe it or not but babies are not all the same. Rocket science, right?

In all seriousness, this post from Emily on addressing levels of sleep needs is incredibly helpful as a parent.

It is so important to be able to recognise in the individual needs of our children so that we can do our best to set them up for success.

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