Congratulations on your newborn baby! We are thrilled for you and the parenting journey you have ahead. What happy moments and lessons you have ahead.
If you’re here, you may have run into a hiccup: your baby’s sleeping habits.
Surely you didn’t believe that newborns “slept like babies,” right? Well, even if you did, it’s ok! In this post, we’ll go through a clear overview of what your new baby’s sleep might look like at this age and for the next few weeks.
Guide to this post:
- How long are babies considered newborns?
- How long should a newborn stay awake?
- How to keep your newborn from staying awake too long
- Is my newborn sleeping too much?
- Best Newborn Sleep Schedule
How long are babies considered newborns?
By definition, a “baby” is considered a newborn for two months after birth. For some pediatricians, newborn sleep and other behavior can be normal up to three months; a time which is often called “the fourth trimester”.
Babies are then considered “infants” or “babies” until age 1, when they start to be considered toddlers.
How long should a newborn stay awake?
Newborn sleep is a little bit of a mystery.
Though babies are spending most of their day doing just that, the way they do it can be confusing for parents.
Most babies sleep between 11-18 hours a day and take 7-8 naps varying in length between 15 minutes and 4 hours.
This, of course, is a range so big that to call it a “routine” or a “schedule” would be a joke. A joke which, told to sleep-deprived parents would probably tank.
So, what does a newborn’s awake time look like? Though baby’s wake period should not exceed two hours (or you’ll engage full fussy-mode) newborns usually stay awake for no more than an hour and fifteen minutes.
How to keep your newborn from staying awake too long
You’ll find lots of signs that your little one will give you when they’re starting to feel sleepy and need you to prepare their sleeping environment. Keeping an eye out for these and, essentially, letting those boss you around is going to be key for your happiness.
Hey, someone had to say it. Your baby is going to be the boss in the house for a while. Just don’t tell them that.
So, What are the cues to look out for?
Unlike some unproven cues like your baby’s hand position or the color of their cheeks and what-not, you’ll likely already recognize their signs of sleepiness.
- Rubbing their eyes
- A glazed-over look
As soon as you see any of those, your baby should be on their way to their regularly scheduled appointment, aka the crib. If you start to notice fussiness, you can very well be crossing the line into overtiredness and you’ll want your baby to go down for a nap ASAP.
Something you might find helpful is playing some sleep music for kids, whether it’s through your phone, on a smart speaker, or on your smart baby monitor.
Creating a reliable sleep routine and safe sleep environment lets your baby understand the cues for when it’s time to sleep. This can mean making their room dark, playing certain lullabies for them or singing to them feeding them a few minutes before putting them in the crib, etc.
For more on preventing overtired babies, sleeping schedules and more, see our post on healthy sleep training for months 1-6 and 6-12.
Is my newborn sleeping too much?
Now that you know how much your newborn should stay awake, let’s look at how much your baby needs to sleep and if your newborn could be sleeping too much.
Understandably, the only reason why baby sleeping too much could ever be an issue is that they have a tiny little stomach. Babies need to eat about every three hours, so if your baby is sleeping longer than that, you can wake them up for a feeding.
What constitutes a real nap?
Well, the jury’s kind of out on that because we all know how it goes. They’ll start napping mid-feed for a few minutes here and there and suddenly you wonder “is my whole schedule off?”
Now, if they got 10 or more minutes of sleep, it’s recommended that you keep your baby awake for their usual awake time before the next nap.
Best Newborn Sleep Schedule
Firstly, it’s important that you know that newborns go through about nine sleep cycles in a day. Each sleep cycle includes a feed, a wake-up, and a nap/sleep. Every cycle takes between 2-3 hours, which coincidentally how much a newborn needs between feeds.
Next, let’s take a look at that number. 9 cycles sound like more than a full-time job and, frankly, it can feel like that sometimes. Stay motivated by knowing that consistency will be the key to your family’s success and peace. Additionally, this is all temporary and your baby’s cycles will get longer as they get older.
Sample Newborn Sleep Cycle Chart
|Week 6 time
|Week 12 time
|Prepare to sleep
|9 -10 a.m.
|Feed 2, active
|Prepare to sleep
|12- 2:30 p.m.
|Prepare to sleep
|4:30 – 5 p.m.
|Feed (post nap)
|Feed (part of bedtime routine)
|6:30- 9:50 p.m.
|Short activity (if needed)
|Night feed (prepare to sleep)
Note on the sleep schedule:
- Continue night feedings as needed. The older your baby, the longer they can go without middle-of-the-night feedings
- Preparing to sleep means winding down in a way that gives baby cues that it’s time to sleep. Rocking, darkness, music, etc.
What are some sleep schedules, routines, and tips that have worked for you and your newborn? Let us know in the comments.