What does new baby sleep even look like? This blog will look at new baby sleep patterns and take away any of the guesswork or wondering if what your baby’s doing is typical, or not. We will cover it all.
Let’s start by setting your expectations, new babies sleep a lot. Newborns sleep roughly 14 to 17 hours per 24-hours. So in every 24-hours, about 14 to 17 of those are asleep. Some babies will do even more, so don’t think that’s the limit either and they are only going to handle being awake for 45 minutes at a time. So if your new baby is awake and you have got visitors who have come to see the newborn and that awake time goes longer than 45-minutes, then be aware that baby is going to end up going into an overtired place, which you don’t want them to do. When you’ve got a newborn keeping one eye on your baby, and one eye on the time is quite handy. Of course, they’re going to give you some signs and cues, but knowing if they’ve been awake for 45-minutes or more is going to absolutely help you out.
New babies tend to want to eat, i.e. consume milk roughly every two to four hours. Now, that will depend upon things like their birth weight and what capacity they have for onboarding milk. Some will struggle. They may have tongue-tie, they may have reflux, they may only be able to take on a little bit at a time and therefore need to feed more frequently. Others will perhaps feed very efficiently and be able to go good, three or four hours between feeds right from the get-go. But as a ballpark, every two to four hours, a new baby is going to need to eat. So to set your expectations, if this is the first baby you’ve had, just know that there’s not going to be any sort of sleeping through eight hours a night anymore, because your baby is going to wake and they will need feeding. But don’t worry, that’s not forever. It is short-term.
(I have a blog coming later this month, which will help you with coping with newborn sleep and wake patterns, so keep an eye out for that one!)
Now, what else can you expect from newborn sleep patterns?
So they’re going to sleep a lot. They’re going to be awake for very little pockets of time, and they’re going to need to be fed every two to four hours. What can you do to help with this? A bedtime routine is the one thing that I would suggest you can do or implement right from the get-go that will help to get your little one into really good, healthy sleep and wake patterns. A routine will show them that, oh, this part of the day is different to all the other 24-hours. And these are the things we do, essentially you set the scene for nighttime, to show them the difference between night and day. That can be easier when daylight is on our side and it gets light in the morning and dark in the evening.
But there are certain times of year where that just doesn’t happen at the ideal time for their sleep. So we have to use black out curtains/blinds, or turning on of lights, or whatever way round it is at that time of year to just help them. What this will do is help their body clock, their circadian rhythms, and it will encourage them to begin to understand that there is a routine, we do the bathroom stuff, and then we go into this room and we do these things, this is when they’re going to do their longer stretch of sleep. And you’re just going to start encouraging that, it’s not going to happen straight away. Don’t expect it to happen straight away. Don’t expect to do a lovely bedtime routine at 6:00 PM and then your baby sleeps for four hours. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but they will be more likely to get there and do their best stretch of continuous sleep if you set the scene with these “cues” and triggers to show them that this is nighttime, now bedtime is coming.
During the day they’re having their little naps and wake times, and then there’s this different thing that happens and helps to set the scene for that longer stretch to come in, when they’re ready. So that’s really how newborn sleep patterns work. Of course, they are all different and there are variations, but this should give you an overview of generally what newborn sleep is like, waking up and sleeping frequently.
Next week I will give you some tips that are great for the new parent and coping strategies for when they are waking frequently in the night and how you can manage. Because they are fine, they wake up, they get fed, they go to sleep. Everything’s easy for a baby, but for you it can be really tough. It can be a real shock to the system and our bodies are not used to not getting those big chunks of sleep that we actually really want, so my tips will help you through those early weeks and quickly smooth things out so that you are getting those sleep hours back where you want them.
Take care, sleep well and if you want to know even more about sleep before then why not download my Sweet Dreams videos full of tips and tricks for getting your little ones to sleep soundly.