We know babies sleep… a lot! But how many hours a day do newborns sleep? What’s a typical newborn sleep schedule?
Many new parents have fears about baby sleep, because a newborn sleep schedule can be pretty erratic.
Day and night, they’re snoozing here and there – and they’re easily disturbed!
Baby sleep patterns will inevitably change your own sleep schedule, and this can bes tough on your energy.
But the good news is that it often gets better after the first couple of months.
Your newborn’s sleep schedule is likely to start working in sync with the outside world, and after a few blips in the first year, hopefully, everyone can get some uninterrupted rest soon enough.
We’re always here to help during that tricky first year (and way beyond!).
So, what can mamas expect from their newborn’s sleep schedule?
Here you’ll find some info about newborn sleep patterns, and also some tips on how to help your little one catch some Zs if they’re not settling.
In this article: 📝
- What is a newborn nap schedule?
- What is a normal newborn sleep pattern?
- When should I start a sleep schedule for my newborn?
- How do you change a newborn’s sleep schedule?
What is a newborn nap schedule?
So, what do we know about sleeping schedules for newborns?
Well, the only certainty is that there’s no certainty.
From baby to baby, from day to day, baby sleep schedules can change.
And, in those first few months, newborn sleeping patterns can be frustratingly hard to predict.
There are one or two pointers we can offer, but you probably shouldn’t take them as gospel.
The younger they are, the more these sleepyheads snooze.
At first, newborns sleep about 16 to 18 hours a day – maybe even more.
By about 2 months, that number is down to 14 hours (ish).
It’s all an average.
Depending on your baby, they might want a lot more, or much less.
Newborns seem to sleep at random – but never for long.
While 18 hours’ sleep a day might sound easy, we can’t expect to kiss goodnight and come back in the morning.
Babies rarely manage more than 4 hours in one go with a newborn nap schedule ‒ including night-time, too!
They wake up very easily. “Shhh, or you’ll wake the baby” is a phrase for a reason!
That’s because most of the time, they’re not in deep sleep.
Rather, newborn babies doze very lightly, as their sleep cycles are much shorter.
When you haven’t got much of your own sleep, some days will be tough.
But don’t despair ‒ everything’s temporary.
Even the most irregular newborn sleep schedule will settle down in the end.
Should I let my newborn sleep all day?
If you’re worried that your newborn sleeps all day, usually, it’s nothing to be concerned about.
A typical newborn sleep schedule is about 2-4 hours asleep, then 1-1.5 hours awake at a time.
But sometimes, for feedings, they may be extra sleepy, so they might be woken up for a feeding then fall asleep soon after.
But as for letting your newborn sleep throughout the whole day or night?
It’s best to wake them up every 4-5 hours ‒ they need regular feedings for all the growth they’ve been doing (and the growth they’re going to do!).
How long should a newborn sleep at a time?
Most newborn nap schedules have naps clocked in at about 2-3 hours each, followed by an awake period of about an hour to ninety minutes.
But if baby’s been asleep for 5 hours, it’s best to wake them up yourself ‒ baby needs food!
What baby naps should be longest?
Every newborn sleep schedule is different ‒ one baby might have longer naps at night, but another may be sleepier during the day.
There’s no set time that newborn baby naps are longer.
But you can encourage baby to sleep more at certain times (like during the night) ‒ more on that later.
Is it normal for a newborn to sleep 5 hours straight?
Yes, it is normal for a newborn to sleep for 5 solid hours, but that’s the maximum they should sleep.
If they get to the 5-hour mark, it’s recommended to wake them up yourself to make sure they get fed.
After all, it takes a lot of energy to do all the growth ahead of them!
Why is my newborn so sleepy?
Newborn babies sleep a lot.
Why? Well, they’ve just been through a very high-energy experience with being born.
And they’ve done so much growing over the past 9 months.
And they’re growing every second!
We’d be tired, too!
Why does my baby only sleep 20 minutes?
Your baby’s sleep schedule may, every now and then, have short power naps of just 20 minutes ‒ this is totally normal.
Not every baby sleeps for 4 solid hours and then wakes up for their feeding, on the dot.
In fact, babies that sleep for 4 hours, wake up for their feed for an hour, then go back to sleep for 4 hours are so rare that they’re known as unicorn babies.
But if your baby is regularly sleeping for just 20 minutes at a time, they may be over-tired, so it’s worth trying to put them down to sleep earlier, and creating a relaxing environment for them to sleep in.
Why do babies only sleep for 30 minutes?
Sometimes, a baby nap schedule with 30-minute naps is totally normal ‒ as long as baby also gets some longer naps of about 2-4 hours each.
But if baby’s only sleeping for 30 minutes at a time, it can help to try some baby sleep training techniques.
What is a normal newborn sleep pattern?
Is a newborn sleep schedule too much to ask? Well, not entirely.
But, if we’re honest, you’ll be lucky to get anything you can set your clocks by.
When it comes to baby sleep schedules, “unpredictable” is the word.
And this doesn’t bode well for a sleep routine.
But just how unpredictable it is all depends on your baby, their age, and their individual needs – and this is something that you, as a mama, will know best.
Newborn sleep schedule by week
Up to about 6 weeks, babies spend a lot of their time asleep.
That’s about 16 to 18 hours a day – at any hour.
At this point, a “baby sleep schedule” is optimistic.
But it may look a little like this:
- Wake up time? If they wake between 6 am and 7 am, you might just want to start the day. Earlier than this, maybe try to get them to sleep again – depending on your own schedule.
- Napping? In their first weeks, your baby will take lots of little naps. Generally, 1-2 hours of napping is followed by the same awake. At first, babies might nap for up to 3 hours in the day.
- Night-time sleep? You can aim for about 10 pm, although a little earlier or later works just as well. Throughout the night, the longest continuous period of sleep will be about 4 hours.
- Is it okay to let a newborn sleep all night? It’s not recommended ‒ baby sleeps shouldn’t last longer than 5 hours at a time (chances are, they won’t), because baby needs regular feeding.
Rough guide: baby sleep schedule at 2 months
As babies get a bit older, their sleep schedules tend to stabilize a little – and night-time sleep may become more consistent and less interrupted.
However, this isn’t necessarily every mama’s experience.
While there will be a general improvement, it might be mixed up with regressions (usually around 3 months!).
Here’s what you might expect from a 2-month-old baby.
But again, expect the unexpected!
- Total hours of sleep a day? Somewhere around 14.
- Wake up time? Many mamas find that their babies will wake a little earlier at this age. But there is no hard and fast rule, of course.
- Napping? You may get 2 or 3 substantial naps from your baby a day by this point – adding up to about 4-6 hours of daytime sleep. It’s best if you wake them after 2 hours for feeding, if they don’t wake up themselves. The less they feed during the day, the more they’ll wake at night.
- Night-time sleep? Often, babies sleep for a little longer – maybe as much as 5 hours interrupted (fingers crossed!). But they’ll probably still wake to feed about twice during the night.
While it happens later, watch out for the so-called 4-month sleep regression.
With a growth spurt and a newfound ability to roll over, at about 3-4 months your baby might return to more frequently interrupted sleep.
That’s normal. But it will pass.
How many hours a day do newborns sleep?
About 16-18 hours a day, typically broken up into 2 to 4-hour periods of sleep.
Yeah, newborns sleep a lot.
Is a 3-hour nap too long for baby?
Not at all!
For a newborn sleep schedule, a 3-hour nap is totally normal, but if you’re sleep training an older baby, you may want to think about cutting down their nap time in favor of longer night-time sleeps.
Where should a newborn sleep during the day?
It depends ‒ you can put baby to sleep in their crib or bassinet for each sleep, even daytime naps.
If baby falls asleep in your arms, in their car seat, or a sling, it’s recommended to move them to their sleep, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Read more in our guide of the 10 Best Baby’s Bassinets of 2022 Chosen By Real Moms
When should I start a sleep schedule for my newborn?
Generally speaking, starting a newborn sleep schedule that you’ve set might not work particularly well for the first 3 months.
Baby’s new to the world, they’ve been through a big experience, they need regular periods of sleep and feedings to give them the energy they need to grow.
But from about 3 months old, you can start your own baby sleep schedule with some sleep training.
How do you change a newborn’s sleep schedule?
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for: how to get newborn on sleep schedule.
Well, as we mentioned before, it can take about 12 weeks for a little one to show signs of a regular newborn sleep pattern.
And slightly longer before they settle at night long enough for everyone else to get a bit of sleep, too.
While there’ll still be interruptions, their baby sleep schedule will slowly approach “normal” the older they get.
So, here’s how to get a newborn on a sleep schedule, where they sleep at night.
1. Mimic natural light patterns
Light cycles are a crucial support for baby sleep patterns.
You could try to reduce light levels an hour or so before sleepytime to help them know that it’s night.
And/or try to show them lots of light during the day.
Being outside works wonders.
2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Even though they’re tired, sometimes babies just don’t settle.
Having a routine they associate with a baby sleep pattern can be helpful to get them down.
Try reducing stimulation, feeding, or getting them comfy.
Then something soothing – like a lullaby.
3. Keep night-time stimulation to a minimum
Your little one will wake during the night.
But you can do your best not to wake them up completely.
Naturally, avoid moving them about too much and try to keep the noise down – although we get that’s super challenging.
Why does my baby sleep during the day but not at night?
Well, at such a young age, baby doesn’t really know the difference between day and night, especially if there’s any artificial light or darkness at odd hours.
If baby’s sleeping a lot during the day, get them used to natural daylight, sitting by a window (with sun protection for baby), or taking them outside.
Then, to encourage a baby sleep schedule at night, keep things dark and quiet ‒ as dark as you can during nighttime feedings.
Do daytime naps affect night sleep for babies?
Sometimes, yes. But sometimes, no.
It really depends on the baby.
Some babies sleep well during the night with long daytime naps, and others may not sleep as well during the night.
Every baby sleep schedule is different, as every baby is different.
It’s your fun task as a mama to get to know them and what works for you both!
There you have it ‒ all there is to know about newborn sleep schedules, including how to create your own.
And if your little dreamer is more of the squirming, grunting type while they’re sleeping, it might be that they’re gassy, overtired, or maybe just dreaming, so don’t fret.
Good luck with the little sleeping beauty!
Enjoy the night-time Zs whenever you can get them.
😴 More on baby sleep from The 411:
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Baby Sleep Temperature Guidelines to Follow
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When to Stop Swaddling
Is White Noise for a Baby Good?
How to Dress Baby For Sleep
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in a Crib
10 Best Baby Cribs of 2022
When Do Kids Stop Taking Naps?
When Can a Baby Sleep With a Blanket?
Can Babies Have Nightmares?
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When to Stop Using a Sleep Sack for Your Baby
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