Newborn Sleep Schedule by Week


What should a newborn sleep schedule by week look like?

You have brought your beautiful bundle of joy home, and you seem to be in an endless cycle of eating, pooping and sleeping.

Your newborn seems to sleep and feed A LOT, and you may start to wonder if this is normal. Well-intentioned friends and family tell you to have a sleep schedule, but what does a newborn sleep schedule by week even look like?

During the first 2 months (this is the newborn stage), the need to eat overrules your newborn’s need to sleep. You may find yourself feeding your newborn every couple of hours if you are breastfeeding and slightly less (approx. 3 hours) if you are bottle feeding. Your newborn’s sleep will be erratic with sleep times varying from 20 minutes to 2-3 hours. All of this is completely normal.

Newborn Sleeping

Understanding which parts of your newborn’s sleep schedule, you can control and which you cannot, will help reduce some of your anxiety.

Understanding Newborn Sleep

Understanding newborn sleep can be tricky so let’s get a few basics out of the way.

  • They do sleep a lot
  • They do not know day from night, but they will eventually with some help from you.
  • They are noisy sleepers.
  • They are light and restless sleepers.
  • They cannot stay awake for long periods.

All of this is normal.

How Much Sleep Does my Newborn Need?

Newborn babies (0 to 2 months) need between 15 – 17 hours of sleep. They will typically sleep for 8 to 9 hours at night and 7 to 9 hours during the day. They will, however, only sleep for short periods. Naps can last anything from 20 minutes to 3 hours.

Newborns can only stay awake for 30-45 minutes at a time. So, their awake time really consists of a nappy change, a bit of cuddling/playing time, a feed, and then back to sleep. 

The amount of sleep your baby needs will decrease, around the 2-month mark (the end of the newborn stage). As your baby leaves behind the newborn stage, their sleep will reduce to around 14 – 16 hours.

Day and Night Sleep

Initially, your newborn will not know day from night. 

Before they were born, they lived in total darkness. Your movements during the day would typically rock them to sleep. Then at night once you sat down to rest or go to sleep, your baby would wake up moving around, sometimes making it difficult for you to sleep.

This confusion between night and day does not last too long (typically around 4 weeks) provided you help your baby by treating days and nights differently. In these first few weeks, you can expect a lot of sleepless nights.

In the day – use their awake time to play and interact with them, expose them to light and do not be too concerned about general household noises like the washing machine, vacuum cleaner etc.

In the evenings start by establishing a simple bedtime routine. Keep the lights dimmed, give them a quiet bath; you could even give your newborn a gentle massage. This differentiation from daytime activities helps them transition from day to night, and the consistency of the routine lets them know to expect sleep.

Baby Massage

Do not keep your newborn awake during the day, thinking this will increase the amount of night-time sleep. Your baby will not sleep longer at night and will become overtired, making it even more difficult for them to fall asleep.

As your newborn's natural body clock starts to mature (around 7 – 8 weeks), you will see their sleep pattern begin to develop. Bedtime will naturally shift earlier, and they will start to consolidate some of their sleep with more predictable longer stretches of sleep.

Newborn Sleep Cycle

Your beautiful newborn may have your eyes and your partner's nose, but when it comes to your sleep cycles, you are vastly different. Unlike adults and older babies and children, newborns often wake during their sleep; this is because they spend around half of their sleep in the light sleep stage. Each sleep cycle for a newborn is shorter (typically only 45 to 50 minutes) compared to 90 to 100 minutes in adults.

Around the 4-month mark, your baby's sleep cycle will start to mature.  Your 4-month-old will go from 2 to 4 sleep cycles, which means they will experience more periods of lighter sleep. This can take a bit of adjustment, and with this comes the dreaded 4-month sleep regression.

To learn more about your baby’s sleep cycle changes and what you can do to manage the 4-month sleep regression read our post.

Having Realistic Expectations

All of this may sound exhausting and can be very frustrating, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed and sleep-deprived. Remember that your newborn's unpredictable sleep pattern is completely normal. As their sleep matures, you will start to see a more regular and predictable sleep pattern for your newborn emerge.

In these first weeks, you will find that your newborn needs help to settle, they have not yet learned how to fall asleep independently. This is something they need to be taught.

During the newborn stage, your little one needs regular feeding, lots of sleep and may need your assistance to fall asleep. There will be days your newborn will sleep well and days when you may have to give them a little more help. Try to avoid introducing sleep props if you can (such as feeding, rocking or patting to sleep) but ultimately do whatever is required to ensure that you and your baby get sufficient rest.

The newborn stage does not last forever even though some days, it may feel that way.

Sleep Training and Newborns

You cannot sleep train your newborn during the first few weeks. They need to be fed often as biologically they are not yet able to sleep for long periods without feeding. They also do not know night from day and will require some assistance from you to fall asleep (some days and times more than others. 

However, between 6 and 12 weeks old, you can start teaching them to fall asleep more independently. This means putting them down for sleep when they are drowsy but awake and giving them a chance to fall asleep on their own.

If during the first 8 weeks of their lives you feed, rock, pat, or shush your newborn to sleep, they will expect you to continue to do this. However, if you give them the opportunity to fall asleep independently by putting them down drowsy but awake, they will come to expect that too.

You need to ensure consistency and follow the same pattern for all periods of sleep. 

If you are considering sleep training your baby, you can read our review of the Sleep Sense Training program.

Why is a Newborn Sleep Schedule by Week Important? 

Babies and young children love predictability.

Following a newborn sleep schedule by week may seem challenging especially if you have other children that need to be taken to daycare, school or other activities or perhaps you personally do not like having a schedule. Babies, on the other hand, love them. It comforts them and makes them feel safe and secure. 

Sleep Schedule Clocks

A newborn sleep schedule by week that includes naptime and bedtime routines also starts to lay down the foundation for your baby, eventually being able to fall asleep independently and sleep through the night.

If you get into a good routine from week 1, in just a few weeks, you will start to decipher your baby's different cries. If you have a routine and your baby starts crying but you only fed them 30 minutes ago you will know that they are not crying from hunger. They may, however, have gas which a quick burp may sort out.  If you just feed at any time for short periods all day long whenever your baby cries, you will never know what your baby really needs.

When can I put my Newborn on a Sleep Schedule?

In theory, you can put your newborn on a sleep schedule right from the day you bring them home. It is important to remember to be flexible and know that not every day will go according to plan. 

An easy way to start a sleep schedule is to do things in a similar way each day – feed, play, nappy change and sleep. Set up a good bedtime routine so that your newborn starts to understand night and day. A bedtime routine also provides your little one with cues that things are different at this time of the day, and they will start to learn that this is the time that sleep is expected.

Tips for How to Get Your Newborn on a Sleep Schedule

The following tips can help ease your newborn into a regular sleep schedule:

Sleep Schedule List
  • Track your baby’s sleep patterns – There are a lot of great apps out there to help with this, or alternatively, you can just write them on a piece of paper and stick it up on the fridge. Whichever method you choose, start to keep a sleep log. This will help you to identify when their sleep and wake periods are.
  • Watch for tired signs – Keep an eye for any signs that your newborn is tired like rubbing his/her eyes or face, fussing and whimpering, or pulling their ears. The aim is to put your baby down for a sleep when they are drowsy but not asleep. If they do not drop off to sleep on their own just yet do not worry about it, just assist them to get to sleep and try again next time.
  • Have a pre-sleep routine – As we said, babies love routines and schedules. By having a routine, you are sending signals to your baby. The pre-sleep routine should be different for bedtime and naptime. A good bedtime routine includes bathtime, a gentle massage, feeding, storybook or lullaby and then bed. For naptime, the routine can be as simple as a little lullaby before putting them down to sleep.  For the 1st 6 weeks, bedtime will typically be around 10 pm, but this will gradually move earlier as they get older.
  • Follow a similar pattern to the way you do things – No matter which order you do things follow the same pattern every time. Once your baby wakes you may change their nappy, play a bit, feed, sing a lullaby and then put them down to sleep. Alternatively you may prefer to play, feed, nappy change, lullaby and sleep.
  • Teach them the difference between night and day.
    1. In the daytime:
      • Interact with your newborn without letting them get overtired.
      • Talk or sing as you feed them.
      • Keep the house, including their room light and bright.
      • Don’t worry about tiptoeing around the house during the day. Let them hear every day sounds such as the washing machine etc.
    2. At night-time:
      • Stay quiet when you feed them.
      • Keep the lights low, and don't talk to your newborn too much; you do not want to overstimulate them.
      • Give your newborn a bath.
      • Put them into their pyjamas to send a signal to them that it is now night-time and sleep is expected.
      • All this should help your baby start to understand that night-time is for sleeping.

Newborn Sleep Schedule Summary

Below is a summary of what a newborn sleep schedule should look like.

  • Total sleep: 15 – 17 hours
  • Day typically starts: Around 7 am.
  • Naptimes: Your newborn can take as many as 5 – 8 short naps during the day. Typically, their days will consist of 30 min to 1 hour of awake time and then a nap of anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours. 
  • Nighttime Sleep: Bedtime will start off in the 1st few weeks at around 10 pm. Your baby will sleep on and off throughout the night, waking up for feeding. The longest period of sleep will be 2 – 3 hours; some newborns may sleep for 4 hours. Breastfed babies typically wake up more frequently than bottle-fed babies. As your baby ends the newborn stage around 2 months of age, they may start sleeping for stretches from 4 – 8 hours.

The chart below is a summary of what you can expect in terms of the number of naps, daytime and night-time sleep for the first 12 months. This is just a guide, remember every baby is different. Some babies can be sleeping through the night for 10 – 12 hours as young as 3 months whilst others may only start sleeping through the night much later. Do not compare your baby with others, just focus on being consistent, setting up a good bedtime routine and teaching them to fall asleep independently.

Baby Sleep Schedule Summary

Newborn Sleep Schedule by Week

1-Week Old Schedule

1-week old newborns will sleep for around 15 – 17 hours a day. You will find that your newborn is only able to stay awake for 30 – 45 minutes at the most. Do not expect your little one to sleep any longer than 2 hours at a time both during the day and at night.

Your newborn's schedule will not be set to a clock. You will need to feed them on demand and often and ensure they are put to sleep as soon as they show signs of being tired. This regular feeding will ensure that they are gaining the right amount of weight and if you are breastfeeding this regular feeding helps to establish your milk supply. You will often find that once your little one has been fed, they will go straight back to sleep.

This is also the time to start teaching them day from day by setting up a bedtime routine and treating days and nights differently.

Here’s an example of what your schedule may look like. This is just a guide as no 2 babies are the same. The same baby's days may vary quite a bit as some naps may be longer than others. This may seem a bit repetitive, but as your little one grows, the days will get more interesting. For now, try and get some rest yourself and sleep whenever you can. 

Sleep Schedule Week 1

2-Week Old Schedule

Week 2 does not differ from week 1. Your newborn will still sleep in short ‘chunks’ for most of the day. 

If your newborn only sleeps while being rocked in your arms or carried around in a sling, you may find it hard to get anything else done. It is important that if your baby is falling asleep in your arms, you do not fall asleep with them, especially on the sofa or in armchairs. This can be challenging as you are also tired but falling asleep with your baby on the sofa can be dangerous. There is the possibility of your baby being pushed against the back of the couch or ending up face down in the pillows and suffocate. For more on sleeping safely with your baby, read our article on co-sleeping safety.

Here’s an example of what your schedule may look like.

Sleep Schedule Week 2

3-Week Old Schedule

By 3 weeks you may find that your newborn is able to stay awake for up to an hour, but they will still need to sleep 15–17 hours a day. Your little one may start to fuss more; this is normal. They are now starting to adjust to their new world and becoming more alert.  

Your newborn will still need to be fed regularly but provided they are meeting their weight gain milestones it is not necessary to wake your baby to feed unless instructed to by your doctor. You may also start to see your newborn sleep for at least one longer stretch at night.

Here’s an example of what your schedule may look like.

Sleep Schedule Week 3

4-Week Old Schedule

At 4-weeks old your newborn may start to sleep 1 to 2 longer stretches at night. If your newborn is still on track with their weight gain, then you should not have to wake them for feeds unless instructed by your doctor and you can start to enjoy periods of longer sleep.

If your newborn is exclusively breastfed, you may find they still need feeding every couple of hours during the day but go slightly longer at night. Bottle-fed babies may be able to go for 3 hours during the day between feeds.  

At the 4-week mark, you may find your newborn is a bit fussy in the evenings, this is quite common around this age. 

Whilst some babies can move to just two feeds at night; some babies especially breastfed babies may still require three feeds at night. 

Here’s an example of what your schedule may look like.

Sleep Schedule Week 4

5-Week Old Schedule

Although your newborn will still be sleeping around 15 hours a day, you will find they are now able to stay awake for about an hour. This does vary by baby with some being able to stay awake for 90 minutes whilst others still sleeping most of the day.

Your newborn can handle more stimulation, but it is still important to not let your newborn get overtired. Watch for their sleep cues and put them down for a sleep before they become overtired.

Here’s an example of what your schedule may look like. This is just a guide as awake and sleep times differ from baby to baby.

Sleep Schedule Week 5

6-Week Old Schedule

Although your newborn will still be sleeping around 15 hours a day, you will find they start to move to a 4-5 nap schedule. You will generally find that the 1st nap of the day is the 1st one to become more predictable. 

You may find that your baby is still a bit fussy in the evenings. You can also start to bring bedtime a bit earlier but not too early as at this age your newborn will not be sleeping 10 – 12 hours in a stretch just yet. 

Here’s an example of what your schedule may look like. This is just a guide as awake and sleep times differ from baby to baby.

Sleep Schedule Week 6

7-Week Old Schedule

The 7-week sleep schedule is remarkably similar to week 6. If you have not started to move bedtime earlier, you should start to do this. You may find your baby less fussy in the evenings, but if they are still fussy don't worry, they will settle down provided they are getting enough sleep.

Your baby may now be sleeping for one 5-hour stretch at night – what bliss. At this age, if your baby is sleeping 5 or 6 hours, it is considered ‘sleeping through the night'. Bottle-fed babies may be sleeping longer whilst breast fed babies may still need to be fed 3 times a night.

Here’s an example of what your schedule may look like. This is just a guide as awake and sleep times differ from baby to baby.

Sleep Schedule Week 7

8-Week Old Schedule

You are now officially in the last week of the newborn stage.  Many babies are now sleeping longer at night, and bedtimes become earlier. Typically, now night-time sleep will be about 11 – 12 hours, and they will nap 3 – 4 hours during the day.

Some newborns start to move away from swaddling which can cause more frequent night waking and shorter naps.

Sleep Schedule Week 8

When to See a Doctor

You should never hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you have any questions about your newborn’s sleep schedule or any potential sleep issues. Most sleep issues have a solution which your doctor will be able to assist with. 

Good sleep habits start with a sleep schedule, even for newborns. Observe, record and get to know your newborn’s sleep cues, sleep and awake times. This will help you smooth the transition to sleep so that you can both get the sleep that you need. 

A day without a nap for a baby is like a cupcake without frosting


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