What is a Newborn’s Sleep Cycle? / How Much Sleep Should a Newborn Get?
Parents of newborns have a lot of questions, and many of those questions revolve around sleep. For good reason: newborns sleep most of the day and night. That’s because newborns’ bodies and brains are developing rapidly, which requires a lot of rest. Embrace this new experience – it’s the start of a new journey for you, one that can help you grow as a parent and a person.
To help you out, here we’ll answer all of your newborn-related sleep questions, including, How much should a newborn sleep? How do you put my newborn to bed safely? And how often should my newborn eat?
If you’re looking to establish healthy sleep habits from day one, the Smart Sleep Coach app can help you. Developed with pediatricians, it features expert video tutorials and easy to use in-app tracking tools that can help you, and your newborn, get off to a great sleep start!
How Much Sleep Does My Newborn Need?
Newborns do four things: eat, go to the bathroom, snuggle, and sleep. Sometimes all at once, though mostly sleep.
A newborn typically sleeps in 2-4 hour stretches adding up to about 14-17 hours, though it’s totally normal for a newborn to sleep as little as 11 or as many as 19 hours of sleep per day.
Every baby, including yours, is unique, but should fall within this range, waking every few hours to feed and probably for a diaper change.
How Much Should My Baby Sleep Their First Two Years?
Here’s a longer guide to your baby’s first few years of sleep:
Newborn (0-3 months): About 14-17 hours of day are best, though some babies sleep closer to 11 or as many as 19.
4-11 Months: Experts recommend babies sleep 12-15 hours a day between 4 months and 11 months. 10-18 hours is also alright.
1-2 years: At this point your baby should be sleeping about 11-14 hours each day, though anywhere between 9-16 is also alright.
Keep in mind that many of these hours will come from daytime naps.
A Note on Premature Babies and Sleep: Premature babies will typically wake up for feedings more often than full term babies and you should talk with your pediatrician about age adjusted sleep expectations.
How Do I Help My Newborn Baby Sleep?
Luckily newborns are pretty good at sleeping, but they and all babies also need mood setting to help encourage healthy sleep. To help your newborn sleep, we suggest:
A Dark, Cool Room: Darkness promotes the production of melatonin, a natural hormone that helps your baby sleep. Your baby – and you – will sleep better in a room set between 68-72° F.
Following a Routine: This becomes more important as your child gets older, but it’s never too early to create a consistent bedtime routine that helps calm your baby and cues that it’s time to go to sleep.
Using a Sound Machine: White noise or another consistent, calm sound can help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep.
We also have a great “checklist” to help you prepare your baby, your home, and yourselves for sleep training. The Smart Sleep Coach also includes all that information and more, including how to give your baby a pacifier, how to reduce naps, and how your entire family can sleep better, longer, and deeper though the sleep training process.
How Should My Newborn Sleep?
On their back on a firm surface.*
In a dark room: darkness helps babies – and adults – produce melatonin, a natural hormone that helps them fall asleep. (Tip: Expose your newborn and all babies to bright natural light during their wakeful periods. This helps “set” their circadian rhythm.)
In a cool room: Babies sleep best in a room that’s 68-72° F. This is also true for grownups.
In a safe space free of blankets, stuffed animals, or other plush objects. These can be put in the crib after your baby’s 12 months old. Also, while we don’t recommend having your newborn sleep in bed with you, we do love side-sleepers: a low crib that you can pull up to the side of your bed to quickly tend to your baby at night without going far or waking up too much.
*Note: Since newborns sleep so many hours on their back, place them on their stomachs for short periods of tummy time while they’re awake – and always under supervision.
Placing them on their tummies helps build your baby’s neck and shoulder muscles and their motor skills.
How Often Should My Newborn Eat?
Newborns eat about every three hours – which is usually why they wake up. As they grow, they’ll eat less often and sleep for longer periods with more awake time in between – and then the real fun begins!
As new as some of this may be for you, this is also a very special and precious period: a time when you and your newborn can enjoy sweet cuddles and quiet memories together. This is the start of a beautiful new era for you both - embrace it and enjoy it!
And remember - if you have any questions, The Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers app has expert answers that will help you get the most results and joy from this experience. We’re so excited for you!