Mastering Newborn Sleep Schedules for Exhausted Parents

Jun 16, 2024

Welcome to the World of Newborn Sleep

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! If you’re reading this, you’re probably knee-deep in diapers, feeding schedules, and sleepless nights that feel like a never-ending loop. Fear not. We’re here to guide you through the labyrinth that is newborn sleep. In this blog post, we’ll tackle everything from why newborns sleep so much, to devising a sleep schedule that works for you and your baby.

Why Do Newborns Sleep so Much?

Imagine running a marathon every day—okay, not really, but growing and developing at the pace newborns do is exhausting work. Most newborns spend 14 to 17 hours a day sleeping because their tiny bodies and brains are in overdrive, growing and adapting to life outside the womb. This sleep is essential for their development, helping to strengthen their immune systems and building those precious brain connections that set the stage for future learning.

How Many Hours Do Newborns Sleep?

In the first few weeks, don’t be surprised if your baby sleeps anywhere between 16 to 18 hours a day. This isn’t one long stretch—oh, we wish! Their sleep cycles are short, often lasting just 45 minutes to an hour. They’ll wake up frequently for feedings, diaper changes, and, well, sometimes just because they can. It’s their world; we’re just living in it.

What Can I Expect in the First Few Weeks with My Newborn?

Buckle up, parents! The first few weeks are a whirlwind. Your baby will sleep in short bursts, wake to eat every 2-3 hours, and will have no concept of night or day. Their longest sleep stretches will likely be around three to four hours, if you’re lucky. You’ll also notice that newborns are naturally noisy sleepers—grunting, whimpering, and making all sorts of adorable noises.

Where Should My Newborn Sleep During the Day?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that newborns sleep in the same room as their parents but not in the same bed. A bassinet or crib placed in your bedroom is ideal. During the day, supervised naps in a portable crib or bassinet in a quiet, dimly lit room can help. Remember, safety first. Keep the sleep area clutter-free—no blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals.

What Are Newborn Sleep Schedules by Month?

Newborn sleep patterns evolve as they grow. Here’s a basic rundown:

  • 0-1 Month: Mostly sleep, interspersed with short wakeful periods for feeding.
  • 1-2 Months: Slightly longer wakeful periods, still lots of sleep.
  • 2-3 Months: More defined wakeful and sleep cycles, with longer stretches at night.

What Are Newborn Sleep Schedules by Week?

Breaking it down by week, you can expect:

  • Week 1-2: 16-18 hours of sleep per day, waking every 2-3 hours.
  • Week 3-4: Slightly more alert periods, still waking frequently.
  • Week 5-6: Day/night confusion starts to fade, with marginally longer nighttime sleep stretches.

What Is a Sample Newborn Feeding Schedule?

Feeding and sleeping go hand-in-hand for newborns. Here’s a sample schedule for a newborn:

  • 7 AM – Wake up and feed
  • 10 AM – Feed
  • 1 PM – Feed
  • 4 PM – Feed
  • 7 PM – Feed
  • 10 PM – Dream Feed 
  • 1 AM – Night feed
  • 4 AM – Night feed

Notice there is no “sleep” on the newborn schedule? That’s because it’s sporadic as a newborn. They need to be awake only 45-60 minutes between sleep, so you will have a great deal of it across the day. Focus instead on not missing a feed, and having naps and bedtime / overnight sleep around it. That’s the best to ensure optimal intake and sleep across the day and night. 

How Do I Know If My Baby is Hungry? What Do Hunger Cues Look Like?

Babies have their own little language for showing hunger. Look out for:

  • Rooting: Turning the head and opening the mouth when their cheek is stroked.
  • Lip Smacking: Making sucking noises or bringing hands to the mouth.
  • Crying: The late-stage hunger cue—by this point, they’re hangry, and you’ll know it.

What Should a Newborn Bedtime Routine Look Like?

A consistent bedtime routine can signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down. Here’s a simple one to start with:

  • Bath Time: A warm bath can be soothing.
  • Feeding: Ensure they’re full before bed.
  • Storytime or Lullaby: Soft, calming activities can help set the mood.
  • Swaddling: Wrapping them snugly can provide comfort.
  • Dim the Lights: Lower the lights to create a sleep-friendly environment.

What Time Should My Newborn Go to Bed at Night?

An early bedtime between 7 PM and 8 PM is typically recommended. However, newborns don’t always follow the rules, and their natural sleep rhythms can take a while to synchronize with the night. The goal is to keep the environment calm and consistent. At first, some parents prefer to wait until 10pm after that dream feed I shared above. We were team “7pm newborn bedtime” with our kids, but do what works for your family dynamic, both are ok at this age. 

How Can I Get My Newborn on a Sleep Schedule?

Patience and consistency are key. Here are some tips:

  • Create a Consistent Routine: Stick to a regular feeding and sleeping schedule as much as possible.
  • Watch for Sleep Cues: Yawning, rubbing eyes, and fussiness can indicate it’s time for a nap.
  • Day/Night Differentiation: Keep days bright and active and nights calm and dimly lit to help them distinguish between the two.


Navigating newborn sleep can feel like you’re trying to solve a puzzle with no edges. But remember, every baby is different, and what works for one might not work for another. Here at Tiny Transitions we have a program for every age and stage. Whether you are trying to start off with gentle sleep shaping of your newborn, sleep training an infant who picked up some sleep associations, or managing a toddler who prefers to co-sleep with you every night – we get it, and we have seen it all.   

Be sure to watch or listen to our free Making Over Bedtime training too… it’s 45 minutes of pure education for your newborn or infant – to help you understand how & when a newborn will sleep through the night, how to nap longer and how to have a calm bedtime without crying. 

About the Author

Hi, I’m Courtney – the Founder of Tiny Transitions and the creator of the Sleep Steps program. As one of the most experienced & award winning baby, toddler and adult sleep coaching agencies, Tiny Transitions has been transforming sleep in families of all shapes and sizes for almost a decade. 

With an experienced and diverse team of sleep consultants, we work with families through their sleep struggles with tiered offerings to meet every age, stage and budget – all while supporting your little one on their unique path to a tear-free bedtime, sleeping through the night, waking rested and refreshed. Courtney Zentz, our Founder is on a mission to change the way the world views sleep, one family at a time. At Tiny Transitions, you come for the sleep, but you stay for the community.  

Our Services Include: 

Sleep Steps Membership

Ask Me Anything Mini-Sessions

Private Sleep Coaching Services