Baby Care,  Motherhood

How many hours a day should a newborn sleep

Newborn sleep patterns


Any mom will tell you that one of the most difficult things about motherhood is getting a good sleeping schedule for the baby so that she can enjoy some sleep of her own. Newborns do not understand that they need to sleep during the night and awake during the day.

You might just find your baby acting like nighttime is party time which may not sit so well with your way of doing things. Being well-informed about newborn sleep will help you. One thing that you need to have when establishing a newborn sleep schedule is consistency.

How much sleep for your newborn?

Newborn babies, from 3 months and below need 16 to 20 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. That sounds like a lot, right? It does sound like a long time but that doesn’t mean that they will sleep for 16 hours continuously. Babies sleep in very short intervals during the early weeks even at night. Expect your baby’s sleep patterns to be very erratic.

Many newborns will not sleep more than two hours at a time especially when they are brought home for the first time. It is therefore not surprising that establishing a sleeping schedule seems like a hopeless endeavor. So for the first few weeks, you must prepare yourself to soldier on until your baby has found what works for him or her.

Newborn sleep guidelines

  • For the first few months, it is advisable that your newborn sleeps in your room. Share a room without bed-sharing, also known as Co-Sleeping. This has been shown to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS which occurs when a baby dies in his or her sleep without being ill or impaired.
  • Your newborn should always sleep on his or her back and not on the side or tummy
  • Your newborn should always sleep on a firm surface with a tight-fitting sheet under him or her
  • You should never use blankets, pillows, crib bumpers and stuffed animals in your baby’s crib
  • You should use a fan to circulate air in the room your baby is sleeping in
  • Never smoke in or near your baby’s sleeping room

When the baby won’t sleep, what should you do?

Sometimes it can get so frustrating when your baby decides not to sleep. A few tips to help you out include:

  • Imitate the womb environment when feeding and holding him or her. You can use a carrier to relax your baby and get him feeling safe and close to you.
  • In case your baby cries during sleep, it doesn’t mean they are awake. Babies tend to make noises and movements in their sleep so don’t keep picking up the baby after every movement or noise. You will be interfering with their natural sleep rhythms. Wait a few minutes before picking him or her up.
  • Avoid overstimulation during the day as you may just pass this feeling to your baby.
  • If you are breastfeeding, limit your caffeine intake.
  • When your baby is inconsolable, crying for a few hours and you feel that something is wrong, consult your doctor.
  • Also, remember to take care of your emotional life because the frustration can leave really emotionally drained which is not good for both you and your baby.

Getting a sleeping schedule for your baby is not easy but as with everything else in life, give it time. Things can only get better.