How much do newborns sleep? And can they sleep too much? We have the answers to that and more in this rough guide.
Newborns sleep. A lot. That’s a fact.
If they’re not eating or pooping, they’re almost certainly snoozing.
Ah, simpler times. But how much do newborns sleep?
And how much should a newborn sleep? Can newborns sleep too much? Let’s find out.
No two newborn sleep schedules are ever alike, so you don’t have to worry about hovering over your little peanut with a stopwatch, timing every nap to the second.
They can vary in length, by the time of day, and are, in general, incredibly difficult to predict.
But when it comes to how much newborns sleep, there are some things worth keeping in mind in the first few days, weeks, and months together.
In this article: 📝
- How long do newborns sleep: the first week
- How much sleep do newborns need?
- How much should a newborn sleep?
- How to put a newborn to sleep
- So how much do newborns sleep?
How long do newborns sleep: the first week
Birth is a big deal, for you and baby.
Physically and mentally demanding, you’ll both be exhausted and ready for a deep, deep sleep once it’s over.
So, during the first 24 hours, you may find it’s tricky to keep your baby awake long enough to feed.
But by the time you’re ready to take them home, they’ll be well-rested and more alert.
It’s at this point that your baby will demonstrate an awake, eat, sleep pattern of behavior — something which characterizes their first few months out of the womb.
And it’s the “sleep” part that takes up most of their time. Around 75% of it, in fact!
Why is my newborn so sleepy?
For a tiny human so used to the safety and serenity of your womb, life in the outside world can be draining.
There’s a lot of energy-sapping stimulation (lights, sounds, smells), and they’re quite simply adjusting to it.
But there’s also the fact that their stomach is so very small.
At 1 week, it’s roughly the size of an apricot; at 1 month, it’s about the size of a large egg.
This means they get full fast, and wake up regularly to feed again when it’s empty.
All in all, these first few weeks and months are all about fueling their mental and physical development — and sleep is a crucial part of that.
Is my newborn lethargic or just sleepy?
As a new mom, or even a veteran mom with a newborn, you’re probably watching baby like a hawk, picking up on every sniffle, every wriggle, and every yawn, just in case there are any suggestions that baby’s not well.
So how do you tell if your newborn is lethargic (which can be a sign of an illness) or just sleepy?
Well, it can be hard to tell, especially if you’re a first-time mom, because there’s no frame of reference to how baby “usually” behaves.
But if baby is hard to wake for feeding or isn’t alert to sounds and sights around them, that could be a sign of lethargy instead of tiredness.
How much sleep do newborns need?
We always talk about newborn sleep in terms of ranges of time, because every baby is different.
Like grown-ups, you get your heavy sleepers, out for the count the moment they shut their eyes, and your light sleepers, who’ll test your tiptoeing to the extreme.
And then there are some noisy sleepers who grunt and squirm in their sleep.
Every baby s different, after all!
Typically speaking, newborns will sleep anywhere from 14 to 17 hours within a 24-hour period, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Newborn sleep happens in short bursts throughout the day and night, lasting an hour or two at a time.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to spot a definitive pattern in the first few months.
Newborns are notoriously erratic sleepers, and although you can guarantee there’ll be a lot of it, you can’t be sure they’ll sleep and wake at set times.
Our advice? Just enjoy the quiet, mama!
It won’t be long until it’s a precious commodity.
How long should a newborn stay awake?
Generally, most newborns are awake for 1 hour to 1.5 hours at a time before they get too sleepy.
Then it’s time for some much-needed shut-eye.
Should I keep my newborn awake during the day?
We know, it’s especially hard sleeping with a newborn around ‒ all the people who say to sleep when baby sleeps may not have a house to tidy, children to look after, and food to cook!
So it’s tempting to try to keep baby awake during the day so they’ll do most of their sleeping at night.
Instead of making baby stay awake during the day, do things that will get their minds working to keep them awake as long as they can, talking to them, singing ‒ even tummy time, which you can start straight away!
How many hours a day should a newborn be awake?
Usually, babies are awake for about 6-9 hours in a 24-hour period, interspersed with sleeping periods for about 2-4 hours each.
So you’ll have 2-4 hours of baby sleeping followed by about 1-1.5 hours of baby awake.
How do you wake a sleeping newborn?
If baby’s deep in snoozy-land, getting them awake can be tricky ‒ you don’t want to startle them and cause a scream-fest.
The key to waking a sleeping newborn is to be gentle.
Gently rubbing their arms, talking softly to them, and carefully taking off their swaddle or sleep sack are ways to ease baby into the land of awakeness.
Is it normal for a newborn to sleep 5 hours straight?
Five hours is about the maximum amount of time baby should sleep in one sitting.
They’ll need regular feedings this early in life to give them the energy they need to grow ‒ mama, they’re going to be doing a lot of growing, and fast.
Sleeping for longer periods of time can also increase the chances of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), especially if baby is overheating.
Is it normal for a newborn to sleep 22 hours a day?
Yes, some newborns can sleep for up to 22 hours a day ‒ it’s on the higher end of the scale, but can be totally normal.
Just be sure to wake them up every 2-4 hours for feedings and to give them some brain stimulation with tummy time or social interactions.
If you’re worried about how much your newborn is sleeping, speak with your doctor ‒ what’s normal for one baby may not be normal for another.
Should newborns sleep after every feed?
Not always. It depends on how sleepy your newborn is.
If you’ve just woken baby up in the middle of the night for their feeding, they may be keen to get back to their dreamland.
But if they were already awake for their feeding, according to your newborn feeding schedule, they could stay awake for a little longer.
How much should a newborn sleep?
Chances are, you’ll only notice a regular sleep-wake cycle at around 3-6 months old.
Before that, the unpredictability persists.
Sometimes your newborn will wake demanding a boob or bottle, sometimes they’ll sleep through.
This means, on occasion, you may need to wake your baby to feed — especially if they’re a particularly heavy sleeper.
It should be noted that this is really the only time you should wake a sleeping baby.
It’s up to you to ensure they’re getting fed regularly, usually every 2 to 3 hours, so that they continue to gain weight at a steady pace.
If they’re gaining weight and checking all of their developmental milestones, it’s perfectly fine to let your baby snooze for longer now and then.
It’s good for them.
Just don’t leave it too long if you’re breastfeeding, as this could affect your supply.
However, if you find you’re having to rouse your baby every time to feed, or if they appear lethargic and they’re sleeping far beyond the accepted normal range of 14-17 hours, you should speak with your pediatrician.
How much should a 1-week-old sleep?
A 1-week-old baby could sleep anywhere from 14-17 hours ‒ maybe even more.
But these periods of sleep will likely be 2-4 hours long at a time, interspersed with awake periods of about 1-1.5 hours each.
How to put a newborn to sleep
Now you know how much sleep a newborn needs (and why), it’s useful to know how to help them achieve some good quality shut-eye in the process.
For starters, an overstimulated, overtired baby will be harder to settle in the evening.
Try to follow a consistent routine for daytime naps and bedtime, with the bedtime routine focused on minimal activity.
Keep the room dark and calm, and consider using a white noise machine to lull your little one to sleep.
You also need to learn and recognize your newborn’s sleep cues.
These can be anything from yawning, rubbing their eyes, pulling faces, crying, tugging at their ear, or staring off into the distance.
However your baby chooses to express sleepiness, that should be your first sign that it’s time for jammies.
Bathe, feed, burp, swaddle, and gently rock your baby towards the drowsy (but not yet asleep) stage, before placing them on their back in the crib.
This helps teach your baby a crucial life skill: how to fall asleep on their own.
If you put them down once they’ve fallen asleep, they may wake up fussy or frightened to discover that you’re not still there.
And remember, safety is paramount when it comes to newborn sleep.
Follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for safe sleep at all times.
Where should a newborn sleep during the day?
It’s generally best for your newborn to sleep in their crib or bassinet for each sleep, even during the day.
Some mamas choose to have two cribs ‒ one for baby’s bedroom and one for the living area, so you can keep an eye on them while they’re snoozing.
It may be that baby falls asleep on you, in which case, it’s still a good idea to move them to their crib, so they don’t get used to sleeping on you ‒ this can make sleep training a bit trickier as they get older.
Can I sleep with baby on my chest?
No ‒ baby sleeping on your chest is absolutely fine, but only if you are awake, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
How do I get my 1-week-old to sleep without being held?
If your newborn is only falling asleep while you’re holding them, the key is creating a sleep routine for them.
Your newborn doesn’t have to be asleep for you to put them in their crib (or bassinet).
In fact, putting them down while they’re sleepy but not actually asleep can help them to self-soothe to sleep, which is fantastic for sleep training later in life.
Once you’ve put them in their crib, if they’re still a little fussy but you know it’s time for them to sleep, try creating a calm atmosphere for them.
By that we mean talking in a calm voice, using white noise, and stroking their face so they know they’re safe.
Should I cuddle my newborn to sleep?
Of course ‒ it’s such a heartwarming feeling when you’re rocking baby and their little peepers slowly shut as they drift off to sleep.
There is a little controversy about cuddling baby to sleep, though ‒ some people say it helps baby to know they can trust you at one of the most vulnerable moments, but others say that it can make baby reliant on cuddles to get to sleep.
In the end, it’s up to you, mama.
How can I get my newborn to sleep at night instead of the day?
As we know, newborns sleep a lot.
So the chances of them sleeping during the day are pretty much guaranteed.
But if they’re not sleeping at night at all ‒ meaning you can’t get sleep yourself ‒ there are some things you can try, which may help regulate their body clock.
- Take baby outside during the day, making sure they’re in the shade but can see natural light.
- Open the curtains during the day, even when baby is sleeping.
- Get baby stimulated with tummy time and other activities during the day.
- Keep things calm, quiet, and dark as much as you can at night.
- Create a little hustle and bustle during the day, with natural light (if you can), activities, and noise, like bubbly music or conversations with cheery voices (rather than calm voices). But try to avoid overly loud noises around baby’s sensitive ears.
So how much do newborns sleep?
Like, a lot! 14 to 17 hours a day, a lot.
But it won’t always feel like it, given how fractured their sleep patterns can be.
Just as you’re about to crack open a book, brew a coffee, or drift off to sleep yourself, they’re awake again, ready to feed.
So cherish the quiet moments — they’re few and far between.
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