What to Expect
Your little one is transitioning from newborn sleep patterns (short periods throughout the day and night) to sleeping for longer stretches. They should also be more consistently awake during the day, taking several naps throughout the day. If you haven’t already, consider starting a bedtime routine. Doing two to three activities that are the same each night before lights out can help your little one get ready for sleep and will start to build healthy sleep habits.
It’s never too early to start a bedtime routine! You can start a bedtime routine when your little one is as young as a few weeks or even a few days old. Choose three calming activities that are the same each night. You can do things like wash up, sing a song, or have some quiet time – just make sure that the activities are enjoyable for your family. Consistency is key! You can also begin to work toward separating feeding from falling asleep. Make feeding the first step of the routine, or if you find that they are falling asleep while being fed, do a brief activity such as changing her diaper between feeding and falling asleep.
Your little one likely still needs some help to fall asleep. Although some newborns can fall asleep on their own, many need to be held or rocked to sleep. If you would like, you can put them down when they are drowsy but still awake to allow them to practice the skill of falling asleep on her own. They are a bit too young for formal sleep training, though.
On average, newborns sleep 11-17 hours per 24-hour period. Newborns typically sleep in short periods, typically ranging from 30 minutes to about 3 hours at a time. These sleep periods are distributed across the day and night (24 hours). Breastfed babies typically sleep for shorter periods than bottle-fed babies. Using a swaddle or allowing your little one to sleep in something like a bassinet to help her feel a bit more snug can also help a great deal.
Since your newborn sleeps in periods spread across the day and night (24 hours), your little one will likely wake and cry for you several times per night. Know, too, that night wakings and general sleep-wake cycles in newborns are typically driven by hunger.
In the first two months, your newborn will likely be awake for about 1 to 2 hours at a time then sleep for a brief period (30 minutes to 3 hours). In the first few weeks, they may have their nights and days mixed up since sleep periods are spread across the day and night. If their nights and days are still mixed up at this point, you can help get them on track by making sure you keep things quiet and dark overnight. During the day, be your typical noisy self, expose them to daylight to help set their body clock, and wake them for feedings if you need to do so.
Family & Environment
Be sure your little one is placed down to sleep on their back on a flat surface without pillows, soft bedding, crib bumpers, or toys. Make sure your little one’s environment is smoke-free and give her a pacifier if they will take one while sleeping. Do these things to maximize their safety to prevent suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends against bed-sharing and promotes room-sharing. Check out the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Guide to Safe Sleep for more information.
General Sleep Patterns
Hang in there! Your baby is still incredibly young. It is expected that your newborn will sleep in short periods (30 minutes to 3 hours) throughout the day and night. However, there is great individual variability. If your little one still has their nights and days mixed up, be sure to wake them for feedings throughout the day, be your typical noisy self, and make sure they get plenty of morning light. At night, keep the lights dim and playtime at a minimum.