Most people will tell you that newborns virtually sleep all day and night, waking up to only pee, poop, and eat. But, that’s not always the case! How much newborns sleep will depend on a variety of factors, mostly related to your baby’s temperament. The average amount a newborn baby sleeps is 14-16 hours in a 24-hour period, broken into multiple sleep periods or naps.
Of course, all babies are different and one important thing to always remember is that your baby may not be like those around you. Let’s explore how much your newborn sleeps further.
The first 3-4 weeks are usually the ones that people describe when a baby hardly stays awake at all. Newborns who are only a few weeks old tend to spend more of their time sleeping than anything else. As Dr. Harvey Karp explains it, babies need a fourth trimester to continue their growth and development, but they would be too large to be birthed if we had to be pregnant for a year! You waited so many months to meet your baby, you may be wishing she stays awake more! Don’t worry, that time will come and you may wish for a break.
At 1 to 4 weeks old, babies tend to sleep 16+ hours a day, though it may or may not feel like it depending on how many chunks into which the sleep is broken. If they are sleeping more during the day than at night, they are suffering from newborn day/night confusion. This is the time when their body thinks daytime is night and vice versa. This is likely because your movements during the day while you were pregnant lulled your baby to sleep and when you went to go to sleep at night, he would wake up (and maybe even start kicking — awww!)
During weeks 5 through 12, babies will generally sleep 14-16 hours a day, usually including 4 naps throughout the day. Since their sleep has not organized yet, though, the schedule is usually a bit erratic and not according to a schedule, unless you just happen to have a regular baby who is predictable by nature. Many of us aren’t that lucky, but some of you will be!
Is your newborn baby not sleeping? Check out these 15 Newborn Sleep and Feeding Tips
6 Week Old Babies
One important note to make about 6-week old babies is that this is the time when their nervous system begins to calm down a bit. Up until this point, your baby may have begun to become increasingly fussy, especially in the evenings. This is the time when moms start to wonder if something is wrong with their breastmilk, but it’s usually not the case. Although it doesn’t necessarily get better overnight, the fussiness will gradually reduce after this point.
When a newborn is 13 to 16 weeks old, many parents stop thinking about their baby as a newborn. Your newborn is becoming a “baby” who stays awake for longer and longer periods, sometimes cooing or babbling, making more eye contact with you, smiling, sometimes even enjoying tummy time. At this age, they typically sleep 13-16 hours per day, simply depending on how much sleep your individual baby needs. Just like some adults need more sleep than others, this is true for babies as well. At this age, most babies are taking 3-4 naps only one of which may be an hour or longer. Catnapping is very common at this age.
Can your baby sleep too much?
What if your newborn baby is sleeping significantly more than the averages? Believe it or not, we sometimes get this concern voiced by new parents. Could it be a sign of something being wrong? Could your baby be sleeping too much? Well, in a nutshell, it can be a sign of something wrong but it’s unlikely unless your baby literally never wakes up. You should always have your doctor have a look if you are EVER concerned. Growth issues are not something to take lightly.
What if your baby isn’t sleeping enough?
Keep in mind that all babies are unique and some babies naturally don’t need as much sleep as others. Mood and behavior are the best indicators if your baby is sleeping enough. You know your baby best, in fact! Generally, if your baby is yawning all the time, has red-rimmed eyes, and is irritable, then most likely he or she isn’t sleeping enough.
There are MANY reasons why a baby may not be sleeping enough and we have many articles about this topic, or you can talk to us directly, and we will help diagnose the issue. Here are a few articles to consider reading:
- Top 15 Reasons Your Baby Wakes at Night
- Sleep Regressions: Everything You Need To Know and Ages They Happen
- Why Your Baby Wakes Up Crying