How Much Do Newborns Sleep? A Complete Guide
Little Yawn Collective - Sep 30, 2021
Congratulations! You just made it home from the hospital with your new bundle of joy, and now it's time for you to start your new adventure as a parent.
Giving birth is a meaningful, life-changing, intimate, exhausting yet exhilarating experience, and life with a newborn is no different. This specific experience is generally thought to exist within the confines of nine stages, starting with the birth cry and ending falling asleep.
In other words, it can be really stressful and quickly zap all the energy from your body resulting in extreme sleepiness.
That being said, things are a little different now, so you can’t exactly crawl beneath the sheets to hibernate until you’re feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed again. You see, you’re a parent now, and that tiny, fragile angel sleeping soundly in your arms is yours to take care of.
We know — it’s kind of scary, right? But don’t worry, Little Yawn Collective is here to help!
In this post, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about your newborn baby’s sleep pattern so you can catch some zzzs, too. Kids’ sleep troubles can definitely be troubling (not to mention exhausting).
Read on to learn more about your newborn’s sleep schedule.
What Does A Newborn’s Sleep Pattern Look Like?
To the sleepless parent running on fumes, newborn sleep might seem wildly disorganized. And truth be told — it is. In fact, there’s really no set schedule at first, which is why it can be tough for new parents to know how long and how often their tiniest family member should snooze.
Newborns Never Sleep for Long Periods of Time
In those first few weeks, your tiny tot may rack up sleep hours like a college student home on winter break. But here’s the catch: tiny newborns have tiny tummies. So, whether they stir due to a rumbly in their tumbly or you gently wake them from their slumber, newborns need to wake every few hours to eat.
If it seems like you’re going through bibs faster than every single factory in the world can make new bibs, you’re not alone. Babies eat often and for a good reason.
A one-month-old baby eats six to eight times every 24 hours. These are usually spaced out between two to three hours apart. Each of these feedings will likely amount to two to four ounces of formula or breast milk. This number will decrease to five to six sessions per every 24 cycle, gradually increasing meal size each time.
Of course, if you are comfort nursing, your baby may seem to always be hungry. Note that when comfort nursing, a baby engages in what is called “flutter-sucking” or “non-nutritive sucking.” This type of movement isn’t geared toward eating a full meal, maybe more like a super light snack. Flutter sucking while breastfeeding serves to relieve discomfort or anxiety.
Newborns Are Light Dreamers
If it seems like your baby has a superpower to wake up to even the most hush sounds — you’re not going crazy. Newborns spend a large portion of their sleep time in “active sleep.” This sleep state is characterized by fluttering eyelids, rapid breathing, occasional body movements, and vocalizations.
Like many newborn mammals, babies spend a significant amount of time sleeping (even if it doesn’t seem like it). You may feel like your baby is constantly awake because babies tend to only sleep in three to four hour stretches.
Newborn Sleep Is Erratic and Unpredictable
At the end of the day, all babies are different. Some like to party all night and sleep all day, while others prefer cat-naps from sun-up to sun-down. And just to keep you on your toes, the moment you feel you’ve got the hang of your little one’s sleep pattern — it changes.
Needless to say, newborn sleep can be quite erratic and unpredictable!
Your baby keeps you on your toes (sometimes literally as you bounce up and down, trying to calm them). While babies themselves are unpredictable, they sleep better with a bedtime routine. Creating a routine around a sweet bathtime, cozy pajamas, and a bedtime story can create those sweet dreams you are dreaming of.
What Are Newborns’ Alert Phases?
In addition to confusing sleep patterns that can easily throw any sleepy parent into a state of craziness, babies are also different in how alert they are during the time they are awake.
When your little angel wakes up from a peaceful slumber, there is typically a quiet, alert phase.
This is a time when a newborn is very still but awake and taking in the mysterious environment around them, essentially soaking it up like a sponge. Your tiny tot may look or stare at objects as well as respond to sounds and motion.
Lasting usually no more than an hour, the quiet alert phase is very precious for parents because it’s a time when they can enjoy their newest family member in a calm manner. This is a great opportunity for a little tummy time practice and for taking some adorable photos to send to your friends.
The quiet alert phase is truly a wonderful bonding experience, but just all good things must come to an end. This brings us to the next phase: the crying alert phase.
During this phase, your baby’s itty-bitty body moves erratically, and they may cry loudly. Crying is the only way that babies can communicate their needs — so don’t panic when a meltdown occurs. Take a deep breath, pick up your precious babe and try to soothe them.
Not sure how? Try massaging your little buddy’s skin to help them relax.
How Much Do Newborns Sleep?
So, how much do newborns sleep, you ask? During their first few weeks, babies should get between 14 and 17 hours of good shut-eye over a 24-hour period.
Adequate sleep is essential for babies as they grow into toddlers (where did the time go?). Not only is a well-rested baby a much more happy baby, but they are also healthier. Getting proper sleep contributes to the development of the central nervous system.
However, some newborns may sleep up to 18 to 19 hours a day. That being said, as mentioned earlier, babies need to eat every three to four hours. So, even if your sleeping angel is sleeping soundly, it’s important to wake them up every so often for a feeding.
Before Three Months
If your little one has just been welcomed to our world — three months or under — they should 16 to 17 hours in a 24-hour period. They also shouldn’t sleep less than 11 hours.
After Three Months
Once you’ve made it past month three (first of all, congratulations!), 12 to 16 hours of sleep within a 24-hour period becomes the norm. At least two to three of those hours should be daytime cat-naps.
Over time, babies gradually start sleeping for longer stretches at night. In fact, a four-month-old might sleep for six to eight hours when the sun goes down, while a six-month-old will sleep for around 13 to 14 hours a day. The longest block of sleep for this age should clock in at around six hours.
Parents will be glad to know that the goal is in sight: Babies tend to exhibit far more regular nighttime sleeping patterns around five to six months.
How Do I Know If My Baby Is Sleeping Too Much?
If your newborn happens to be sleeping too much, on the other hand, this can sometimes be a red flag.
If you notice that your newborn appears to be sleeping more than usual, keep an eye on any other signs. Watch out for babies who are acting lethargic, having trouble eating, or being especially fussy. If you have concerns, it is always best to talk with your pediatrician to make sure nothing more serious is going on.
No symptoms? Then you can probably take a deep breath and relax. If your little buddy is gaining weight at a healthy pace, is alert, and feeding normally, everything is likely A-okay.
Many babies sleep more when going through a growth spurt. Interestingly, a 2011 study found that infant girls having body-length growth spurts had more sleep bouts while infant boys had longer bouts of sleep.
Rest easy: you’re doing a great job!
Sweet Dreams Are Made of This
How much do newborns sleep, you ask?
Most newborns sleep for no more than 19 hours in a 24-hour period. However, due to the size of a tiny baby’s tiny belly, newborns tend to wake every couple of hours due to hunger. For this reason, your newest family member will likely sleep in bursts of 30 to 45 minutes to as long as three to four hours throughout the day.
Being a parent to a newborn can be tough. But Little Yawn Collective is here to help make it easier.
We create melatonin-free children’s sleep solutions with science, efficacy, and safety at heart for happier bedtimes, sweet dreams, and restful zzz’s.
Let’s work together and help your baby drift off to dreamland tomorrow. Once your tiny tot is snoozing soundly — you can finally get some sleep, too!
Make bedtime a Breeze
Discover safe, effective, melatonin-free sleep help for your little one