Understanding your baby: How long do newborns sleep

How long do newborns sleep on average in the first week and more

By Chelsea Lane
Understanding your baby: How long do newborns sleep

On average, what is the normal sleep duration of newborns in the first week?

0- 3 Months

Did you just give birth to your first newborn? Congratulations!

If it’s your first time giving birth, you may be wondering how much sleep your newborn will need during his/her first week. Newborn babies generally sleep a lot in the first week. You may even see your baby sleep almost throughout the whole day, and trust me, it’s just normal. You don’t need to freak out.

Since babies have shorter sleep cycles compared to adults, expect your baby to wake up every 40 minutes. At night, you can expect your baby to wake up 2 to 3 times, but this sleeping pattern will still change when he reaches 3 months old.


During the first week, your newborn can sleep around 14-18 hours a day. Although your baby can sleep a lot during the first week of his life, he can wake up every two to four hours. This can be due to various reasons like when he gets hungry or when he feels the need to poop or when he needs to have his diapers changed. Most of the time though, babies will wake up when they need to be fed.

3 - 6 Months

By the time your baby is 3 months old, he will probably have adjusted a sleeping pattern which makes him stay awake longer at daytime. By then, he will learn to sleep for around 4-5 hours. However, don’t be surprised if he still wakes up once or twice at night when he gets hungry for milk.

Once your baby reaches 4 to 6 months old, he can start getting 8 to 12 hours of sleep. However, there are some who can’t achieve such a long period of sleep until they’re around 5 to 6 months old. There are also babies who can sleep for a long stretch at night as early as 6 weeks.

During night time, let your baby get used to a calming evening routine like a bath, massage, and nursing. Sticking to this night time routine consistently will help your baby determine that it’s night time and it’s his time to sleep.

How long can a newborn sleep without feeding?

As mentioned earlier, there are times where babies can sleep a little more than the usual. Normally, your baby should wake up every two to three hours to be fed of breast milk or formula milk. What if your baby sleeps more than three hours? Is it okay if you let him sleep for more than 4 hours? Generally, the answer is no.

While it’s understandable for you to let your baby sleep, waking him up to feed him with your breast milk is a must. There are various reasons why you should feed your baby frequently every 3 hours during his first two weeks.

Reasons to Feed Your Baby

For one, your baby’s tummy can get empty easily as babies digest breast milk quickly. Since your baby still has a little tummy, he can only store a little amount of milk. He can get full easily but can also get hungry pretty quickly as well. You can be able to tell whether your baby is hungry or not through a number of hunger cues. For example, when you see your baby lip smacking, rooting, finger sucking, and crying, that would be the time where you’ll have to feed him with milk.

Another reason why you need to feed your baby at the right time is to help him gain weight. Babies need to gain weight since they normally lose 5-10 percent of their body weight just a few days after birth. In order to gain back the weight that your baby lost, you’ll need to feed him frequently. If you fail to do so, your baby will suffer from a slowed down weight gain. Not feeding your baby frequently may also result in complications such as jaundice or low blood sugar.

Aside from that, infrequent breastfeeding can also slow down your milk production. This normally happens when you don’t give your breast milk to your baby frequently. There is also the possibility that the amount of milk you produce to decrease.

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Stay in the known with the baby sleep chart

While it is important for babies to get enough and frequent feeds, it is also important for them to get enough sleep. Aside from that, there should be proper bedtime that you should follow for putting your baby to sleep. Doing this will help you establish a predictable daily sleep and feeding schedule for your baby. It can also help you prevent your baby from early-morning walks or late-night sleep woes.

Baby Sleep Chart

Here is a guide from the baby sleep chart that you can refer to if it’s your first time giving birth.

0 Months

Newborn babies need to sleep 15-18 hours a day, and the average awake time will vary at this stage. Since newborn babies need to eat more often, there is no recommended bedtime during this age. You’ll just have to pay close attention to the sleep cues that your baby is giving to determine if he needs to sleep already.

1- 4 Months

Once your baby is 1-4 months old, he will need to sleep for 14-15 hours a day. During this period, your baby will have variations of his average awake time. If your baby is 1-2 months old, you can put him to sleep at a later bedtime. Once your baby reaches 3-4 months old, you can put him to sleep at an earlier bedtime at around 8 P.M. For 3-4 months old, the common awake time would be 1-2 hours in between naps. At this age, a baby’s bedtime can be around 8-11 P.M.

4- 8 Months

For babies who are 4-8 months old, the total sleep that they need is 14-15 hours a day. Their average awake time is 2-3 hours, and the recommended daytime is at around 6:00 to 7:30 P.M. At this stage, most babies are almost ready for a predictable schedule. They can still take naps at first, starting at 4 naps which will then gradually lower down to 3.

8-10 Months

Babies who are 8-10 months old will need to 12-15 hours of sleep a day. Their average awake time is more or less 3 hours; by this time, your baby’s recommended bedtime is at 6-7 P.M. Also, during this age, your baby is more likely to take 2 naps for the whole day.

10- 15 Months

At 11-15 months old, babies will need to sleep for 12-14 hours a day. Their average awake time between naps is about 3-4 hours. The recommended bedtime for this age is at around 6:00 – 8:00 P.M

15 Months - 3 Years Old

For babies age 15 months to 3 years old, the total amount of sleep they need sticks to 12-14 hours a day. They will be awake longer at this stage, with an average awake time of about 5 hours. The recommended bedtime for this age is at 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. For babies who are 18 months old, they will only need to take one afternoon nap by about 2 – 2.5 hours. When a baby reaches 2 years old, you should start setting their earliest bedtime at 7:00 P.M.

3 - 5 Years Old

For children age 3-5 years old, they will need to sleep for 11-13 hours a day. They can now stay awake at an average of 12 hours if they don’t take naps anymore. Their recommended bedtime at this age should be around 7:00 – 8:30 P.M.

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Summary

Newborn does sleep a lot and the above sleep cycle is for reference. Every baby is different and may not follow the sleep cycle guidelines. It is good to observe your child and build a proper nap and sleep time habit.

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