Amidst the whirlwind of having a new baby, different questions (and LOTS of them) are inevitable. This week, I’m addressing one I get pretty often: “How many hours does a newborn sleep?”
But before I get into it, I want to address the mamas of brand-new, just-a-few-days-old-babies…this question (and so many others like it) might seem overwhelming at first. Remember that it’s going to be ok, all babies’ sleep situations are going to look different, and we’re here to support you no matter where you are or what you might be needing!
There are so many “shoulds” when it comes to bringing home a new baby. My biggest piece of advice? Let go of the shoulds…and give yourself grace! I’ve got an entire blog post about those first few days home with a newborn that you can check out by clicking here!
Without further ado, this week on the blog, I’m going to talk about:
Let’s jump right in!
What can I do to get good newborn sleep?
Newborn sleep can be allllll over the place. But getting great sleep is still possible…I promise! Here are a few things you can prioritize/ tips and tricks to try out in the newborn stage to get great sleep before starting the sleep learning process at around 4 months:
1. Get good, full feedings
Work on getting full feedings to help lengthen your newborn’s stretches of sleep. You can also start practicing feeding before sleep instead of to sleep. Click here to learn more about why getting good, full feedings matters so much for your newborn’s sleep!
Little newborns love it when their environment mimics that comfy space they just spent the past 9 months in…the womb! To learn more about swaddles and safe sleep, click here to read my blog post all about safe swaddling.
Click here to watch my swaddle tutorial on Instagram!
3. Watch for Sleepy Cues
Newborn sleepy cues include staring off into the distance, having a calm, peaceful demeanor, a subtle yawn, and reddish hues on their eyebrows and eyelids. These are all signs that it’s time to get your newborn to sleep!
Click here to learn more about newborn sleepy cues in another blog post.
4. Prevent Overstimulation
Be mindful of too much stimulation, especially as you are approaching the end of a wake window. Newborn babies can get wired and tired easily!
5. Use White Noise
Place your white noise machine between your baby and any disruptive noises. And don’t forget to bring a portable sound machine for naps on the go. Click here to read about choosing the right white noise machine for your baby and the AAP’s guidelines.
Click here to see more about how to get great newborn sleep on Instagram.
I have a Free Newborn Sleep Guide that dives into these 5 tips (and a few more!) to get you started on the right foot with optimizing your newborn’s sleep. Click here to download it!
How many hours does a newborn sleep?
During the day, newborns 0-3 months (on average) sleep anywhere from 5-8 hours. At night, newborns typically sleep 9-10 hours, which is broken up for night feedings. This averages out to a TOTAL of 16-18 hours of sleep.
Here is a simple reference chart to see the averages for your newborn as well as babies at different ages. Know that we will have babies that fall on either side of these averages. Some babies have higher sleep needs, and others have lower sleep needs. Let your baby’s behavior and temperament guide you!
|Ideal Length of Naps
|Awake Time Between Naps
|Awake Time Before Bed
|Average Amount of Daytime Sleep
|Average Amount of Nighttime Sleep
|Average Amount of TOTAL Sleep
*broken for nighttime feedings
Where should my newborn sleep?
For nighttime sleep (and independent naps), the official recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is that babies need to sleep on their back until they are able to roll back to belly AND belly to back. They also need to be on a firm and flat surface within their crib, bassinet, or pack ‘n play by themselves – the AAP does not recommend co-sleeping in any way, shape, or form. Click here to read about co-sleeping safety guidelines in another blog post.
If you are noticing that your baby does not like to lay flat while sleeping, my first suggestion is to rule out any tummy troubles. We want to get to the bottom of our baby’s discomfort needs so we can best meet their needs! Tummy troubles can include:
Click here to watch more about what to do if your baby won’t sleep flat on Instagram.
Also, note that you should NOT have any soft items in their crib (pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, etc.) until they are 1 year old to help prevent suffocation.
Naps are a little different! Your baby can sleep safely in your arms for any contact naps while you are awake and alert so that you can keep an eye on them. Wondering if contact naps will “spoil” your newborn? They won’t! Click here to read more about contact naps in another blog.
How can I get my newborn on a consistent sleep schedule?
Many parents want to get their baby on a consistent schedule, and that’s totally understandable, but it’s just not realistic for newborns. All is not lost! Instead of a consistent schedule, aim for predictable cycles.
This means following newborn wake windows and watching for sleepy cues. Once you are nearing the end of the wake window, keep a close eye out for sleepy cues so you know exactly when to get your newborn to sleep!
Once you are out of the newborn stage, it is developmentally appropriate to start to teach your baby independent sleep skills. And by doing that, your baby will get into their own consistent schedule.
Did you know I have sample schedules to troubleshoot for the following ages? Click on each to check them out!
- 4 months sample sleep schedules
- 5 months sample sleep schedules
- 6 months sample sleep schedules
- 7 months sample sleep schedule
- 8 months sample sleep schedule
- 9 months sample sleep schedule
- 10 months sample sleep schedules
Recap of How Many Hours a Newborn Sleeps
While newborn sleep is often all over the place, there are still plenty of things you can do to optimize their sleep and get them as many hours in as they need!
I have a team of incredible certified pediatric sleep consultants who can be in your corner supporting you throughout the newborn stage and with your unique sleep situation. Click here to grab a consultation with one of them!
Whether your little one is a newborn (0-4 Months Content Library), 4-24 months (4-24 Months Content Library), or a toddler (2-5 Years Content Library), we have the resources you need to get your family the sleep you all deserve!