I like some of the ideas in the book "Good Night, Sleep Tight" by Kim West. She talks about sleep issues for each stage of your baby/toddler's development. Here's word-for-word a quick look at each stage: (read the book for more detailed info and solutions)
THE FIRST MONTH (0-4 WEEKS):
"For the first week, babies typically sleep a total of sixteen to eighteen hours, about half during the night and half spread out over four daytime naps. By the end of the first month, they sleep an average of fifteen and a half to seventeen hours total, about eight and a half to ten hours at night and six to seven hours during the day spread over three to four naps. They will still wake up two or three times at night for feedings but should go back to sleep quickly."
THE SECOND MONTH (4-8 WEEKS):
"Babies sleep on average fifteen and a half to seventeen hours total, eight and a half to ten hours at night and six to seven hours during the day, spread over three or four naps. Some will now wake only once a night to be fed, although others will still need two overnight feedings for a few more weeks."
THE THIRD MONTH (8-12 WEEKS):
"Babies this age on average need fifteen hours of sleep, ten at night and five spread out over three daytime naps. Many babies can sleep six to eight hours at a stretch before needing a night feeding. By the end of the month, most should sleep eight hours uninterrupted" [wow, that seems really generous to me, but awesome if that's really the case!]
THE FOURTH AND FIFTH MONTHS:
"At four months babies should be able to sleep about eight hours at night without a feeding, and by five months they go for about ten or eleven hours. They sleep four to five hours during the day, spread out over three naps."
SIX TO EIGHT MONTHS:
"At this age, babies need an average of eleven hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep and three and a half hours of daytime naps spread over two to three naps." [It wasn't until 8 months that we did a "cry it out" method and got both our babies to sleep through the night. So, if your baby isn't quite there yet, there is still hope!]
*Separation anxiety has its first peak at this age and it increases when babies are overtired.
*A lovey (stuffed animal or blanket) can be a useful tool to ease separation anxiety and weaken other sleep-disrupting nighttime habits.
*Babies increased mobility at this age can cause some new sleep problems.
*A good schedule or routine can transform a tired and fussy baby into a rested and contented one. I don't recommend completely rigid schedules, but I do recommend devoting a few weeks to really focusing on your child's sleep.
*At this age you should usually allow 20-30 minutes [of the bedtime routine] plus whatever time you need for bathing and pajamas. [We started this process a little after 6ish for bath, bottle, book, song to our baby to be ready to lay down drowsy but awake at around 7ish]
*[To eliminate a nighttime feeding, try a] dream feed, which means you wake her for a final feeding before your own bedtime, probably around 11:00pm. Or you can wait until she wakes up, as long as it's at least eight hours after her last feeding, which usually means around 3 or 4am. But be consistent with one approach and stick to it. And only feed her once at night, and not again until at least 6:00am. If she wakes wanting food at a time you don't plan on feeding her, find other ways of soothing her. Click Here to see how we got our kids to sleep through the night.
*Many of us walk or rock our newborns to sleep... but if your child is six months or older it may be time to phase it out. [Read the book for more details.]
*[She also has sections on pacifiers, early birds, co-sleeping, and napping.]
NINE TO TWELVE MONTHS:
"Babies at this age on average need eleven hours of sleep at night and three during the day. At nine months, babies should nap for about and hour and a half in the morning and about one and a half to two hours in the afternoon. Most have given up that brief, third late-afternoon nap. By twelve months, the morning nap is about an hour and the afternoon nap is about an hour and a half."
THIRTEEN TO EIGHTEEN MONTHS:
"At this age toddlers need an average of eleven and a quarter hours of uninterrupted sleep at night and two and a quarter to two and a half hours during the day. Children at the younger end of this age bracket take two naps, in the morning and afternoon, but by eighteen months they consolidate to one midday or afternoon nap." [When Brayden was 15 months old he was in the awkward stage where some days he would take 1 nap and other days 2 naps]
ONE AND A HALF TO TWO AND A HALF YEARS OLD:
An eighteen-month-old on average sleeps eleven and a quarter hours at night and two and a quarter hours during one midday or afternoon nap. At age two, sleep requirements drop to eleven hours at night and two during the day. Over the next year that will drop to ten and a half hours at night and one and a half during the day. Remember these are averages but variations should not be huge. Watch your child's daytime behavior for clues to whether he or she needs more sleep.
TWO AND A HALF TO FIVE YEARS OLD:
Between ages two and three, average sleep needs drop to about ten and a half hours a night [my 2 1/2 year old still sleeps 12 hours at night and about 2 hours during his nap], plus an hour-and-a-half afternoon nap. Four-year-olds need eleven and a half hours at night, and most no longer nap daily although they do need about forty-five minutes of quiet time each afternoon and possibly and occasional nap. Five-year-olds sleep about eleven hours a night and afternoon quiet time is still beneficial.