The NSF (National Sleep Foundation) states that the children who get to the age of two have already spent more than half of their lives sleeping. This only proves the theory that napping plays an essential role in the life of every baby, even beyond his or her first year of life.
If you’re a new parent, you’re probably wondering about how your baby’s sleep should look like. How much should your newborn son or daughter sleep? Is it possible for the baby to sleep too much? How could you assist him or her with the sleeping? To find an answer to all of these questions, keep on reading – we’ll take a thorough look at one of biggest mysteries concerning babies – how much do newborns sleep.
Right after birth, every newborn spends around an hour in a wake state before it gets into a deep sleep – this is due to the exhaustion that accompanies coming into the world. At this point, most mothers find it really challenging to keep their babies awake while they’re feeding them. However, this is not something to worry about – the hospital staff is there to assist you with this and help you with maintaining a successful and consistent eat-rest cycle.
Most mothers spend this time snuggling with their newborn, making a bond with the child and learning about how to take proper care of it. The sleep pattern that we’ve mentioned can last between 12 to 18 hours and should be over just when you’re ready to leave the hospital and take your baby home.
During the following 24 hours, the baby will become more awake, alert, and aware of its surroundings. This is where the baby gets into the typical newborn pattern of being awake, eating, and napping. The pattern should stay somewhat consistent during the first month of his or her life, and, in some cases, even during the second month.
A vast majority of newborn babies spend more than 75% of their time sleeping. As time goes by, this percentage slowly decreases and the baby starts to spend less and less time napping.
Why Do Newborns Sleep That Much?
Once the baby is born, its new life in the outside world can be somewhat overstimulating. Due to the fact that it just spent 9 months in the comfort and warmth of its mother’s womb, a newborn will spend two-thirds of every day napping. The last third of each day is reserved for eating, at least for the first 6 weeks.
The bellies of newborns are tiny, which is precisely why they fill up very quickly. So, even though a baby might be spending just a little time on a single meal, it will still keep waking for the feeding sessions that take place between sleeping. The babies doze so much because their small bodies need to rest, but also because they’re merely used to it.
How Much Do Newborns Sleep?
The short answer to this question is pretty straightforward – a lot. By taking a look at the chart below, one can realize that newborns (aged 0-15 weeks) sleep for 18 hours every day.
|Age||Total Hours of Sleep (24-hr period)||Daytime Sleep Duration||Nighttime Sleep Duration||Awake Time between Sleeps|
|0-6 Weeks||15-18 hours||15 minutes-3 hours (3-5 naps)||2-4 hours||30 minutes - 1.5 hours|
|6-15 Weeks||14-16 hours||30 minutes - 3 hours (3-4 naps)||3-6 hours||1-2 hours|
|4-6 Months||12-15 hours||1-3 hours (3 naps)||6-8 hours||1.5-2.5 hours|
|6-8 Months||12-15 hours||1-3 hours (2-3 naps)||9-12 hours||2-3 hours|
|8-10 Months||11-15 hours||1-2 hours (1-2 naps)||10-12 hours||2-3 hours|
|0-12 Months||11-14 hours||1-2 hours (1-2 naps)||10-12 hours||2.5-3.5+ hours|
As shown in the chart above, the duration are displayed as ranges. This is due to the fact that every baby is different – just like grownups, some newborns are light sleepers and some are heavy sleepers. Some babies will be awake for more than an hour between sleeping in the first months, while others won’t stay awake for longer than half an hour.
Another critical thing to note here is that the sleeping habit pattern is not always present. Before it is three or four months old, a baby’s sleeping pattern can be quite unpredictable, with the only certain thing being the fact that there’s going to be a lot of it. However, this is nothing to worry about, as the baby will undoubtedly need less and less napping time as he or she grows older.
Is My Baby Sleeping Too Much? How Much Time Should It Spend Sleeping?
When talking about how much do newborns sleep, a question that always arises is the one concerning the amount of time that your little one spends in the land of dreams. To some, it might seem pretty unusual that the newborns are more asleep that they are awake. Some parents are actually fond of this, as they’re struggling to catch a breath while taking care of their son’s or daughter’s needs. However, sometimes newborns do sleep longer, which is when they need to be woken up for feeding.
NSF (National Sleeping Foundation) states that during the early months, the baby’s wake-rest cycle interacts with his or her need to be nurtured, changed, and fed. NSF also asserts that newborns spend a total of 10.5-18 hours napping each day, but on an irregular schedule – there are always a couple of 2-3 hour wakeful periods inserted into this total sleeping period. The sleeping sequences can last only a couple of minutes, but also several hours.
An internal biological clock is not something that the babies are born with, but rather something that slowly develops during their first months of life. Typically, a regular wake-rest cycle won’t emerge until the newborn gets to be three to six months old. Until then, most babies spend more than 70% of their time napping, with the rest spent on feeding and being alert.
When Should I Wake The Baby Up?
The only thing that a mother should wake up her newborn for is feeding – making sure that the baby is properly fed is essential. This should take place every 2.5 to 3 hours. AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) states that the breastfed babies eat between 8 and 12 times per day, while the ones fed with formula eat between 5 and 8 times per day. This is because the baby’s belly needs more time to digest the formula, so it stays full for longer.
In our opinion, scheduling the feeding time to every couple (2-3) hours is your safest bet, although you can always ask your pediatrician for advice. Each time you visit the pediatrician, he or she will weigh the baby to ensure that it’s gaining enough weight (and therefore getting enough food). In case you have questions about your newborn’s eating or napping patterns, you could also consult your baby’s doctor.
An important thing to mention here is that it’s okay to let the baby sleep as long as he or she is gaining weight at a healthy rate. Some newborns wake up due to hunger, and if they don’t, their mothers should wake them up themselves. This could very well be your case during the first few weeks after the birth of your child. However, make sure to consult your pediatrician in case your child continues to sleep a lot even after that time or if it acts lethargic whenever it’s time for feeding.
Safety in Newborn Sleep
Another topic that arises when talking about how much do newborns sleep is safety. AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has a couple of guidelines that every parent should get familiar with:
- Babies should always sleep on their backs;
- Babies should always rest on firm surfaces that are clear of stuffed toys, pillows, and loose bedding;
- Room-share, but avoid bed-sharing.
Helping the Newborn with Sleeping
When it’s overstimulated during the awake-time, a newborn can fall asleep when it should be eating or it can sleep too little, and this is due to exhaustion. The baby can also become tired in case it stays awake for too long between the napping sessions; which is precisely what causes it to become harder to settle for napping. Here are a couple of methods that you could use to help your newborn with acquiring a healthy sleeping habit:
Teaching the baby difference between night and day
In case your newborn spends a lot of time sleeping during the day but is alert when it comes the time for sleeping, he or she has probably confused days and nights. This is when you should start keeping nights calm and dark, with as little activity as possible. Following a strict and consistent bedtime routine will assist the baby in realizing when it’s time for bed.
Developing a regular bedtime routine
A good routine would look like this: feeding, clothing, shushing, swaying and sleeping.
Creating a comforting environment
Keeping the room at a pleasant temperature, light-blocking curtains, and adding white noise will undoubtedly assist your child in getting better sleep. A high-quality bassinet will provide the best comfort for your infant.
Developing healthy sleep habits
The key is in putting your newborn to sleep drowsy but awake, starting at 4 months of age throughout the first year.
Avoiding overtired sleeping
When a mother keeps her baby awake past its drowsy stage, the baby becomes fussy and overtired. This is why it’s very important for the mother to learn to notice her child’s sleepiness cues.
Changes in Newborn’s Sleep
A newborn does not get to have a “schedule” until it’s a couple of months old. However, a certain pattern will still be present, in one way or another. In case you notice an unexpected change in your child’s usual patterns, it’s probably due to one of the following reasons:
Unpredictability due to the sleep pattern/cycle
Although your baby might look like you, it certainly doesn’t have your sleeping cycle. The sleep patterns of newborns are entirely different than those of adult persons. This is because babies wake much more erratically and more frequently during any sleeping period. Although this is completely natural, one still has to get prepared for the unpredictability that comes with sleeping cycles of newborns, particularly in the first couple of months.
In case your baby is experiencing a growth spurt, you’ll probably notice that he or she is constantly eating. If the baby isn’t eating, it’s because it’s sleeping! This is, of course, entirely normal – newborns need some extra nourishment and resting during their growth spurts. Your child will probably experience a growth spurt at:
- 7-10 Days Old
- 2-3 Weeks Old
- 4-6 Weeks Old and
- 3 Months Old
4-Month Sleep Regression
The topic of how much do newborns sleep can’t go without mentioning the 4-month sleep regression. This would be a period of time when the newborn abruptly stops sleeping well.
The 4-month sleep regression is a very common occurrence and can sometimes take place as early as 3 months old. If your well-sleeping baby abruptly starts fighting sleep once it gets to the age of three months, this is the most probable reason. The cause behind this is the constant change of sleep patterns in babies.
Sleeping through the night
Although the amount of the baby’s daytime napping decreases as it grows older, the nighttime sleep duration will become significantly longer, which is always a good thing for a parent. However, a mother should not expect her child to rest soundly through the whole night just yet.
In case your newborn kid is not steadily gaining weight after a couple of weeks but still does a lot of napping, don’t worry – you’re just dealing with a good sleeper. If you, however, find that your baby is not getting anywhere near the amount of sleep shown on our chart, your best decision would be to have a talk with a pediatrician, as he or she will assist you in making sure that everything is okay. Good luck!