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Newborn sleep patterns – what to expect from your new baby

New father kisses his sleeping newborn babyMany new parents are eager to know when their newborn will sleep according to a schedule or what their baby’s sleep pattern will be like.

Here we will talk about the average newborn’s sleep and sleep patterns.

Newborn sleep patterns – what to expect from your new baby

Newborn day/night confusion

When your son or daughter was in mum’s womb, mum’s movements lulled baby to sleep and when mum rested, you may have noticed he or she perked up. It takes a few days to several weeks for this to be sorted out but it will get sorted out. Of course, this is tiring for us, parents!

Newborn sleep patterns

When your baby is first born, she/he will sleep more than be awake. Newborns generally sleep about 16 hours per day and their awake time includes any feedings. As the weeks go by they will be able to stay up longer but will still sleep 14-16 hours in a 24-hour period by one month of age. By 3 months old, the average amount of sleep in 24 hours is still 14 hours.

A newborn will also cry 1-2 hours per day (in total, not all at once, usually). and this is normal. It is the only way the baby can communicate to tell us whether they are hungry, tired, uncomfortable, wet, etc.

Unfortunately, some babies will develop colic (bouts of intense crying that’s difficult to soothe and the causes unknown) when they are just a few weeks old. The crying might last hours per day and colic usually ends around the 3 or 4 month mark and hopefully not longer.

Newborn sleep schedules

Depending on your baby’s sensitivity level to being overtired, a schedule may not form until after baby is 6 months old or longer.

Many parents desire a schedule much sooner but if your baby is sensitive to overtiredness, you will only sabotage your own efforts because baby will get overtired and fight sleep more, not less in my experience. This is one of the most misunderstood facts of a baby’s sleep needs. Many people might tell you to keep your baby up such that he will sleep more at night, but unfortunately this will only lead to more and more sleep deprivation that will make baby fight sleep until the baby is overtired and cranky.

Try to keep wake times short and become in tune with when baby needs to sleep just as much as you are in tune with when baby needs to eat and some of your problems may be resolved as simply as that.


Some babies, may be consistent from the very beginning while others remain inconsistent for the rest of their lives. Depending on your personality this can be very frustrating.

Keep a sleep log, don’t rely on your memory, to track babies sleep and feeding patterns, this will help you understand your newborn.

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3 comments so far -

  1. Good article
    I love when I hear people say their newborn is really bad and wants to breastfeed every 2-3 hours ahhhh what did you think a new born needs???
    They will tell you what they need and when
    If you fight your newborn you will lose and be miserable
    I haven’t had many issues in each of my 5 children’s newborn stage and enjoyed most of it as I followed the
    Play by ear’ rule and feed them when they are hungry on demand and I have been able to have 5 hour plus straight sleep at night as early as 4 weeks

    • Also to add
      I would use the bath in their ‘whitch hour’ to help settle then they would go down to bed in the next sleep after that much easier

    • Hi Nono! Thanks for your comment. You nailed it. Watching and learning from your baby is the best way to grow to know what it is they want. And in those early days it is just about meeting those very basic needs. thanks again xx

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