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Newborn Sleep Schedule

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A headshot of Cara Dumaplin
Article by:

Cara Dumaplin

RN, BSN, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

new mom holding newborn baby and kissing its head

Whether you already have a newborn in your arms as you read or you’re awaiting the arrival of your new baby, I’m so glad you’re here. I’d love to answer all of your questions about newborn sleep schedules and share some tips for how to have a great little sleeper. 

Why do newborns sleep so much?

Newborns (0-3 months) need so much sleep because their brains and bodies are growing rapidly. Did you know that when your baby is sleeping, their brain is actually working hard? It’s true! While your newborn is sleeping, their brain is making new connections. Sleep is also a time for physical growth for your newborn. All of that sleep is so important and necessary for your little one’s physical, mental, and emotional development. 

How many hours do newborns sleep?

In these first few months, newborns ideally get at least 14-17 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Keep in mind that these hours are usually in fragments, rather than in long consolidated stretches.

I need you to hear this: the number of hours your newborn sleeps isn’t something you can control. So, instead of worrying about the perfect number of hours of sleep for your newborn, let’s focus on these things you can control:

  • Don’t let any one nap go longer than 2 hours during the day.

  • Aim for wake windows around 60-90 minutes (35-60 for those under 4 weeks). 

  • Consider starting your day by about 8:00 am (no more than 12-12.5 hours after bedtime).

  • Offer daytime feedings every 2-3 hours, according to hunger cues

If you’re looking for more step-by-step guidance in helping your newborn baby to get the sleep they need, my First Five Months Bundle can help. I’ll walk you through all things newborn sleep so that you can have the confidence you need to love this stage with your baby.

Expert Tip: Keep in mind that there may be times where you will need to wake your baby to make sure they get the calories they need. 

For babies who are staying on their growth curve, most pediatricians agree you can allow one longer stretch of sleep in the night.

What can I expect in the first few weeks with my newborn? 

Know that having a newborn is a big adjustment, whether it’s your first, second, or fifth! You’ll find yourself asking “Is this normal?” probably more than you expected. From the many different colors and consistencies you see during diaper changes (hint: Yellow, green, and brown can all be normal!) to questions like “Will I Ever Sleep Again?” Can I let you in on a little secret? Your baby doesn’t know what they’re doing either. You’re figuring it out together. 

When it comes to sleep, here are some things you can expect during the first few weeks (and even the first few months) with your newborn: 

  • They may only be awake for a total of 6-10 hours in a 24-hour period (most of that awake time is spent feeding and diapering). 

  • Wake windows (the time that they are awake from one nap to the next) may only be 35-60 minutes in those first 4 weeks.  

  • Short naps can be common for newborns, but you can try to extend a nap or use strategies to help lengthen those naps. 

  • Feeding and sleeping can (and probably will) look different each day. 

  • Many newborns experience day-night confusion, in which they want to sleep most of the day but wake frequently at night. 

  • Newborns are very active in their sleep. It may look like they’re awake when they’re actually still sleeping!

  • It's not uncommon to feel like feeding your baby is taking up so much space in your brain: whether you're trying to establish a healthy nursing relationship, searching for the formula that works best for your baby, or ensuring that your little one is getting enough calories.

I have so many blogs answering all of the most common questions I get about newborns, including:

For even more specific guidance, my First Five Months Bundle will help you with baby sleep strategies that will meet your newborn exactly where they are developmentally and help you lay a healthy sleep foundation. I’ll show you how to navigate newborn sleep, work on longer stretches of night sleep, and give you the tools you need to make sleep successful as your baby grows. I want you to love the newborn stage!

Where should my newborn sleep during the day? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics official safe-sleep guidelines say that infants should always be placed on their backs for sleep on a separate, flat, and firm surface without any bumpers or loose bedding. Only products labeled as a crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard should be used for baby sleep.

Cara, are you saying I can’t snuggle my newborn for naps? Of course not! Sometimes, that may be the only way to get your sweet baby to sleep. But please know, if your baby is being held or snuggled for sleep, you (or any other caregiver) must remain awake and closely supervise your baby. If you’re feeling like it’s impossible to lay your baby down for sleep, I can help you get your newborn baby to sleep in a crib.

Check out my safe sleep checklist for a complete guide to safe sleep, including other considerations for sleep outside of the crib.

What are newborn sleep schedules by month?

I’ve created month-by-month guides to help you get started. Each one gives you age-appropriate wake windows, sample sleep schedules, and answers to my most frequently asked questions for that age. Check them out here:

What are newborn sleep schedules by week? 

If you're looking for a sleep schedule to follow each and every day, I want you to hear me: there's no such thing. When you think about your newborn, keep in mind that he's a baby, not a robot; she's a human, not a clock. Attempting to follow a rigid sleep schedule every day will only set you both up for frustration or feeling like a failure. At the same time, I understand that you may feel a little lost without sample schedules to look at, so I'm happy to give you some examples.

Parents, don't miss this! Notice that:

  • Each sample schedule has a different wake up time. Some babies start their day around 6:00 am, while others sleep later.

  • Nap lengths vary throughout the day (and from day to day). A normal newborn nap can be 20-120 minutes long.  

  • Newborn wake windows are about 35-60 minutes for babies 0-4 weeks and about 60-90 minutes for babies 4-12 weeks. During each wake window, keep an eye out for your baby’s individual sleepy cues during those ranges.

  • Feedings should be offered according to hunger cues (about every 2-3 hours all day long).

  • In the evenings, cluster feeding can be normal and developmentally appropriate. It's vital that we follow your baby's hunger cues.

Text version of Newborn Sample Sleep Schedule Week 1 table
Time Activity
7:00 am Wake and Feeding (breast/bottle)
7:35 - 9:30 am Nap 1
9:30 am Feeding (breast/bottle)
10:10 am - 12:00 pm Nap 2
12:00 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
12:45 - 2:15 pm Nap 3
2:30 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
3:15 - 5:00 pm Nap 4
5:00 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
5:50 - 6:10 pm Nap 5
7:00 - 7:50 pm Nap 6
7:50 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
8:45 pm Bedtime
11:00 pm Night Feeding (breast/bottle)
2:00 am Night Feeding (breast/bottle)
4:30 am Night Feeding (breast/bottle)
Text version of Newborn Sample Sleep Schedule Week 2 table
Time Activity
6:10 am Wake and Feeding (breast/bottle)
6:55 - 8:40 am Nap 1
8:45 am Feeding (breast/bottle)
9:30 - 11:30 am Nap 2
11:30 am Feeding (breast/bottle)
12:20 - 1:00 pm Nap 3
1:30 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
2:00 - 4:00 pm Nap 4
4:10 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
5:00 - 5:25 pm Nap 5
6:25 - 7:00 pm Nap 6
7:00 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
8:00 pm Bedtime
10:00 pm Dream Feed (breast/bottle)
12:30 am Night Feeding (breast/bottle)
3:15 am Night Feeding (breast/bottle)
Text version of Newborn Sample Sleep Schedule Week 3 table
Time Activity
6:40 am Wake and Feeding (breast/bottle)
7:30 - 9:30 am Nap 1
9:35 am Feeding (breast/bottle)
10:25 - 11:55 am Nap 2
12:10 am Feeding (breast/bottle)
12:55 - 2:00 pm Nap 3
2:10 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
3:00 - 4:00 pm Nap 4
4:15 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
5:05 - 5:25 pm Nap 5
6:00 pm Cluster Feeding
6:35 - 7:20 pm Nap 6
8:00 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
8:30 pm Bedtime
11:30 pm Night Feeding (breast/bottle)
2:00 am Night Feeding (breast/bottle)
4:30 am Night Feeding (breast/bottle)
Text version of Newborn Sample Sleep Schedule Week 4 table
Time Activity
6:30 am Wake and Feeding (breast/bottle)
7:30 - 9:00 am Nap 1
9:10 am Feeding (breast/bottle)
10:00 am - 12:00 pm Nap 2
12:10 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
1:05 - 2:15 pm Nap 3
2:30 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
3:30 - 4:30 pm Nap 4
5:45 - 6:05 pm Nap 5
6:50 pm Feeding (breast/bottle)
7:20 pm Bedtime
11:15 pm Night Feeding (breast/bottle)
1:45 am Night Feeding (breast/bottle)
4:30 am Night Feeding (breast/bottle)

If you’re getting overwhelmed looking at these schedules, please know that it doesn’t have to feel like this. I can help you set up a flexible daytime routine based on your baby’s needs and cues without the need to fit any rigid expectations. In my newborn class, I’ll teach you the strategies you need to set your days and nights up for success with confidence. My goal isn’t for you to have a perfect little sleeper who follows the perfect little schedule; instead, it’s for you to have the baby sleep tools you need so that your whole family can thrive.

What is a sample newborn feeding schedule?

During those first few months, you’ll want to offer feedings every 2-3 hours during the day according to your baby’s hunger cues. Whether your baby is nursing or bottle fed, this allows for your baby to take full feedings instead of snacking all day. Take a look at the difference between a baby who is snacking all day and a baby who is taking full feedings. 

24 bottles of 1 oz each on one side of chart labeled "snacking" with 8 bottles of 3 oz each on the other side of the chart labeled "Full feedings" to demonstrate 2 ways of getting 24 oz of feeding for a baby in one day

Expert Tip: Feedings can last 30-40 minutes during those first few weeks. Babies tend to become more efficient eaters as they get older. If you’re concerned about the length of your baby’s feedings, please check with your pediatrician or lactation specialist. 

How do I know if my baby is hungry? What do hunger cues look like?

Watching your baby's cues is vital to setting up a flexible routine and being responsive to your baby's needs. Here are some of the most common newborn hunger cues:

Newborn Hunger Cues: trying to fit fist in mouth, smacking lips, rooting around looking for a food source, crying and inconsolable, opening and closing mouth, shaking head from side to side [Taking Cara Babies]

What should a newborn bedtime routine look like? 

It’s never too early to start a bedtime routine. The calming effect of a bedtime routine sets the tone for everyone going into bedtime and avoids overstimulating your baby. This can be especially helpful for babies who experience a fussy witching hour. A simple bedtime routine can be as easy as changing a diaper, putting on pajamas, singing a lullaby, swaddling, and laying down in the crib or bassinet. 

Expert Tip: Babies start to recognize routines as early as 8-12 weeks old. Beginning a bedtime routine with your newborn can set you up for sleep success moving forward.

What time should my newborn go to bed at night?

There isn't a universal answer to this. Some newborns do best with a 7:00-8:00 pm bedtime. These newborns, when kept up past 8:00 pm, start to become fussy and overtired. On the other hand, some babies are content later in the evening and thrive with a bedtime between 8:00 and 10:00 pm. These later-bedtime babies often treat any attempt at an earlier bedtime like a nap. It’s all about finding what works best for your baby. 

How can I get my newborn on a sleep schedule?

If you’re looking for your days to be more predictable and consistent, I hear you. As a recovering perfectionist, I understand wanting to know just what to expect each and every day. But during the first few months, holding to a rigid schedule will only steal your joy. 

However, you can work towards a flexible routine that allows you and your baby to thrive in this stage. In my newborn class, I’ll show you how to set up this type of flexible routine that is responsive to your baby's cues and helps you feel confident in navigating your day. I'll walk you through setting your days and nights up for success as you lay a healthy sleep foundation with no crying involved. Even though your days won’t be perfectly predictable, I believe you can truly love the newborn stage.

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