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 be tough on your energy. But the good news is that it often gets better after the first couple of months. Your newborn’s 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 sleep patterns, and also some tips on how to help your little one catch some Zs if they’re not settling.
What’s the deal with newborn baby sleep?
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, sleep schedules can change. And, in those first few months, 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. It’s rare that babies manage more than 4 hours in one go. That means at night-time, too!
They wake up very easily. “Shhh or you’ll wake the baby” is a phrase for a reason! Newborns really do wake up very easily. That’s because most of the time they’re not in deep sleep. Rather, they 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 sleeper will settle down in the end.
Is there a typical newborn sleep schedule?
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, “unpredictable” is the word. And this doesn’t bode well for a sleep routine. But just how unpredictable all depends on your baby, their age, and their individual needs – and this is something that you, as a mama, will know best.
Rough guide: a sleeping schedule for newborns up to 6 weeks
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 6am and 7am, you might just want to start off 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 10pm, 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? Yes, of course! However, the chances are that they won’t, even if you let them. Expect a wake up, and make a quick check now and again if not.
Rough guide: an infant 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 do you get a newborn to sleep at night?
It can take about 12 weeks for a little one to show signs of a regular 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 sleep schedule will slowly approach “normal” the older they get.
So, how to get a newborn on a sleep schedule, where they sleep at night? We’ve got 3 tips.
1. Mimic natural light patterns
Light cycles are a crucial support for sleep rhythms. 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 sleep 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.
Good luck with the little sleeping beauty! Enjoy the night-time Zs whenever you can get them.
😴 You might also like:
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Managing The 4-Month Sleep Regression: Your Expert Guide
5 Things I Wish I Knew About Baby Sleep as a First Time Mama
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