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How Much Should My Newborn Sleep?

How Much Should My Newborn Sleep?

Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider on specific questions about your baby's health.

When you brought your newborn baby home ,they probably slept, and slept, and slept. Hey, being born is hard work. But now they’re still sleeping frequently, and you may find yourself wondering: Is this normal? How much should a newborn sleep? Your baby’s health is our number one priroity, so be sure to contact your doctor for any questions.

It’s absolutely normal if your baby spends most of the day asleep. That said, a newborn sleep schedule will vary from child to child, and it will continue to change as they grow older.

To promote a healthy sleep cycle for your baby—and set your own mind at ease—it helps to understand your newborn’s sleep pattern and why they need so much downtime.

Typical Newborn Sleep Patterns

When they’re first born, many babies sleep between 14 to 17 hours a day.1 According to The National Sleep Foundation, half of the time, baby sleep is in REM sleep or active sleep2. But don’t worry if your little Sleeping Beauty likes even more rest. According to Payal Adhikari, MD, a pediatrician with Child & Adolescent Health Associates in Chicago, some newborns can sleep up to 18 or 20 hours a day.

Sleep cycles can especially fluctuate during the first four months of a baby’s life.3

How much sleep your baby needs will change as they grow, especially during the first year of their life:

  • 0 to 3 months – On average, a healthy baby in this age range will need between 14 to 17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period. They’ll often sleep for short 2 to 4-hour chunks and wake up whenever they need to be fed, changed, or comforted. At this age, there’s no set sleep schedule you need to follow—just listen to what your baby’s body needs.1
  • 4 to 6 months – At this age, many babies sleep between 12 to 16 hours a day. Typically this consists of three naps a day and some overnight stretches that might last as long as six hours. Around this time, your baby’s routine will begin to sync up with yours—more sleeping at night with eating and napping at set times during the day.1
  • 7 to 11 months – At this stage most kids still sleep between 12 to 16 hours a day, but they’ll sleep longer at night (think 10 to 12 hours) and most likely only want two daytime naps.1

Factors that Can Change Baby’s Sleep Patterns

Broadly speaking, many newborn babies share the same sleep patterns for the first year of their life.

However, your baby’s diet and whether or not they were born prematurely can affect how much sleep they need:

  • Diet – Some studies suggest that if your baby uses formula, they may sleep for longer periods of time—including at night—because formula takes longer for their tummies to digest than breast milk. However, your baby will still sleep the same total amount as the typical breast-fed baby. And any sleep differences between formula babies and breast milk babies tend to vanish by nine months of age.1
  • Premature Birth – Babies born prematurely may need to sleep up to 22 hours a day. They’ll also need to feed more frequently, and it may take them up to twelve months to regularly sleep for six hours straight at night.1
  • Knowing a typical newborn sleep schedule can help new parents. But every baby is an individual. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician or to an Advice Nurse if you have more specific questions about your baby’s sleep patterns.

    Why Newborns Sleep So Much

    Sleeping for over half of the day helps your baby grow.

    Specifically, sleeping so much helps:

    • Baby’s brain development by letting the brain build networks and do other activities that support learning, thinking, and behavior formation3
    • Baby grow bigger and develop physically3
    • Baby improve their motor skills3

    While it’s normal for infant sleep schedules to vary from day to day, some babies do regularly have trouble sleeping.1,3

    If your baby needs to sleep more, they may:1

    • Fuss often and easily
    • Have nighttime sleep troubles
    • Take shorter, lighter naps during the day instead of the longer, deeper naps most babies need

    If you think your baby struggles with overtiredness, talk to a medical professional.1

    You can also try keeping a journal of your baby’s daily sleep schedule. Detailed records can help your pediatrician assess the situation and recommend an appropriate course of action.3

    Sometimes parenting can feel isolating, but there are so many experts who want to support you and your baby—and you deserve that support.

    Waking Hours

    While newborns need plenty of sleep, it’s also important that babies eat enough. One-month-old babies typically need to eat between 8 to 12 times during a 24-hour period.1

    That can become difficult if your baby wants to sleep for 20 hours, so consider keeping track of how much your baby eats and reaching out to a medical professional if you think their sleep interferes with their recommended eating.

    Newborns will typically wake because they need you to do one of the following things:1

    • Feed them
    • Change them
    • Burp them
    • Sooth them

    Your baby might also wake because they’re uncomfortable. For example, a baby who normally loves being swaddled in a warm blanket may love it a lot less on a hot summer night.

    As you and your baby learn to communicate with each other, it will become easier to tell what your baby needs—and know exactly how to help them.

    Why Newborn Parents Can Feel So Exhausted

    You may wonder, “If my baby sleeps so much, why do I feel so tired?”

    It’s probably because newborns tend to wake up every 2 to 4 hours during the night.1 That’s a huge adjustment for adults used to sleeping for seven or eight straight hours every night.

    Here’s the good news—as your baby grows, they’ll begin to sleep for longer periods during the night.1

    According to Dr. Adhikari, by the time they’re two months old, many babies will sleep for at least one four-hour period a night. As your baby grows, those four hours will slowly build until they have a regular sleep schedule interrupted only by your baby’s need for night feedings.

    Slowly, you and your baby will begin to sleep more each night until you’re both enjoying a full, blissful night of sleep.1

    Ways to Support Your Baby’s Sleep Cycle

    Sometimes your baby needs a little extra help relaxing to fall asleep. Whether your baby’s a steady sleeper having a rough night or an adorable budding early bird, these ideas could help keep your sleeping baby safe and enjoy some much-needed rest:

    • Swaddle your baby Swaddling your baby using proper technique can help newborns sleep better because it mimics the safety your baby felt in the womb. However, swaddling becomes unsafe once your baby can roll over, so the American Academy of Pediatrics only recommends it for the first one or two months of your baby’s life.4
    • Try a sleep bag – Similar to swaddling, an organic wearable sleep bag can help your baby feel all snuggly for bedtime during the first few months of their life. Unlike swaddling, there’s no technique to learn. Because it matters what you put against your baby’s skin, we recommend choosing something that’s GOTS certified and free of lead, phthalate, and flame-retardant. And because your time matters, we definitely recommend you choose a sleep bag that’s machine-washable and dryer-friendly.
    • Develop a pre-sleep routine – Newborns don’t need a bedtime routine yet because they don’t have a sense of night and day. But as your infant hits 6 weeks or so, developing a bedtime routine can help them calm down and relax for the night. A soothing bedtime routine might include feeding and cuddling your baby, softly reading them books from a rocking chair, gently massaging your baby as you lay them in their mini cribs, singing lullabies, turning on some white noise, and of course, whispering a final “Good night, I love you” as they slip off to dreamland.5

    As your baby grows older and develops a sleep routine, you can also help develop healthy sleep patterns by making normal daytime feeding different from pre-sleep feedings. For example, consider making your surroundings more stimulating when your baby eats breakfast.

    You can also try:

    • Leaving the lights on
    • Making noise (talking in a normal tone of voice, listening to the radio, etc.)
    • Doing something interactive and stimulating afterward, like playing a game

    In contrast, try making pre-sleep feedings as soothing as possible with dim lights, soft sounds, and a wind-down routine.

    These environmental signals can help your baby know when it’s time to relax and sleep—and when it’s time to play!

    Create a Soothing Sleep with the Help of Monica + Andy

    Whether you need some baby books to wind down with, the perfect sleep bag for your restless little sleeper, or some baby toys to help your little one stimulate their brain and burn off energy while awake, we have an abundance of Monica + Andy baby products to help support you during this exciting time in your child’s life.

    Created by a mom who wanted to give her own newborn baby soft, safe, organic clothing, Monica + Andy is fully committed to providing you and your baby quality support—whether that’s trust-worthy information for a new parent wondering about their newborn’s sleep routine or a cozy product that can help improve your baby’s sleep routine.

    At Monica + Andy, our products are organic, sustainable, and ethical—because all of our babies deserve the best.


    Sources:

    1. Geddes, Jennifer Kelly. "Here’s How Much Sleep Babies Need." What to Expect. 19 May, 2022. https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/sleep/how-much-sleep-do-babies-need/
    2. "Sleep Duration Recommendations." National Sleep Foundation.
    3.  https://www.paaap.org/uploads/1/2/4/3/124369935/551b74_0a25804f79b44994bb8db7ed9ed957db.pdf
    4. Suni, Eric. "How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need?" Sleep Foundation. 11 March, 2022. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep/how-much-sleep-do-kids-need
    5. "Health Professionals Need to Talk to Families About Swaddling." NICHQ. 
    6. https://www.nichq.org/insight/health-professionals-need-talk-families-about-swaddling
    7. De Belefonds, Coleen. "How to Establish a Bedtime Routine for Your Baby." What to Expect. 18 May, 2022. https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/sleep/baby-bedtime-routine/
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