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Newborn Sleep Schedule Broken Down for the First 12 Weeks

Looking for a sample newborn sleep schedule for your new baby? I’ve got you covered with week-by-week sample newborn sleep schedules for the first 3 months of age!

What you need to know about the newborn sleep schedule

I know plenty of new parents who love the lazy newborn days, snuggling their new baby and sleeping when the baby sleeps.

The universally hard part is having to be awake when the baby is awake! But thankfully in these early weeks, there is lots of sleep going on.

Did you know that newborn babies need an average of 14-18 hours of sleep every day? Newborn babies are very sleepy during the “4th trimester.”

And even though your newborn baby probably won’t adhere to a strict sleep or feed schedule, you can be mindful of a newborn’s wake windows and get them down for sleep at the optimal time.

What they do once they fall asleep is up to them!

Let’s talk about the newborn sleep schedule and what you can expect during those first several weeks at home.

When to start newborn sleep schedule

When Should I Start a Newborn Sleep Schedule for my Baby?

I want to help prepare you for a simple reality: your newborn’s schedule probably won’t be the same every day in those first months. And that’s okay!

Even if you can’t have a specific and consistent set schedule in these early newborn days, you can have a reliable routine. Even better, you can start a routine as soon as you bring your baby home!

The difference between a routine and a schedule is nuanced, but basically what it boils down to is this: 

You can rely on a particular order of events throughout the day with your newborn, and even have an idea of how long things like naps and wake time will last.

But because these are the newborn days, your baby’s schedule (meaning the time on the clock when things happen) may fluctuate from day to day.

dad holding newborn baby

Newborn Wake/Sleep Routine

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I am a big proponent of using the eat-play-sleep method to establish a reliable routine with babies in their first year.

However, I don’t want you to stress too much about implementing this kind of routine with your newborn when they’re less than two months old.

You can try to introduce the eat-play-sleep routine to your newborn, but keep in mind that the “play” portion of the routine will be fairly limited and short. Like I said, newborns need a lot of sleep, so there’s not a ton of room in their day for awake activities.

Instead, it might be a good idea to just focus on creating some tiny separation between eating and sleeping time.

In general, a newborn’s sleep schedule will follow a pattern of wake, eat, diaper change, then back to sleep.

Newborn wake windows

Newborn Wake Windows

Like most things in the newborn days, sleep is sporadic. Newborn sleep times are all over the map!

But developmentally speaking, most newborns are able to stay awake for 30-60 minutes at a time.

Your newborn’s wake window begins the minute they open their eyes from sleep, and ends the moment they close their eyes again (whether that’s in your arms, in a baby carrier, or on a safe sleep surface).

As long as your baby is staying relatively alert while they are eating, their feeding times count towards their wake window minutes. 

Sometimes a feeding will take up the entire wake window, and other times you might need to fill their awake time with other things like diaper changes and tummy time.

My biggest tip is to try to separate feeding time and sleeping time if you can.

Doing so helps avoid the nursing-to-sleep sleep association, which is a hard habit to break down the line if it’s something your baby grows accustomed to.

Sometimes it’s inevitable that your baby will fall asleep while feeding in those early days and that’s okay! Do your best to keep baby awake during the feed, but don’t stress it too much those first few weeks if baby falls asleep on you shortly after or during the feed.

should I let my newborn sleep all day?

Should I Let My Newborn Sleep All Day?

I know it feels like your newborn is sleeping all day, and that’s because they kind of are! Some newborns can spend up to 75% of their day sleeping.

Something you might notice during those first days at home is that your baby is super sleepy during the daytime and more alert and active at night. This is called day-night confusion, and it’s totally normal in newborns.

When your baby was in utero, they got used to being lulled to sleep by your movement during the daytime hours. Then at night when you were still and sleeping, they got their party on!

It’s no surprise that once they’re outside the womb, newborns are used to sleepy days and active nights.

And while the more active nights aren’t much fun for parents, a newborn’s day-night confusion usually fixes itself between the 6-8 week mark as their circadian rhythm develops.

It is perfectly fine for your newborn to sleep a lot during daytime hours. However, your newborn getting too much sleep during the day if they are going longer than 3 hours between feedings.

Sleep begets sleep in those early days, so the better your newborn sleeps during the day, the better their nighttime sleep will be!

mom. holding newborn baby

Staying Awake During Newborn Feedings

It’s natural for your newborn to lose a little bit of weight in their first week or two of life. 

However, if you and/or your doctor notice substantial weight loss, it might be because your baby isn’t staying awake long enough to eat their fill!

You may have to wake your baby up at the breast or bottle if they fall asleep before taking in a full feeding. 

I know that waking a sleeping baby feels counterintuitive when you’re all exhausted, but how well your baby feeds is actually directly related to how well they sleep.

The more full feeds your newborn gets during the daytime hours, the better chance they’ll sleep for longer stretches at night.

To rouse your newborn if they fall asleep while they’re eating, try pulling them off and re-latching, or tickling their toes and gently moving their legs while they feed. Even a cold wash cloth to their face can do the trick.

newborn sleep program

How to Get Your Newborn to Sleep

For even more newborn sleep tips and tricks (including more sample baby sleep schedules), check out my Newborn Sleep Program!

The program contains 8 short videos and a 25-page PDF of cheat sheets full of infographics and easy to read information designed with exhausted parents in mind.

In less than 1 hour, I walk you through my proven process for setting up routines for daytime that will optimize your newborn’s night sleep so your newborn and your family get all the rest you need!

parents doting over newborn baby

What is a Normal Newborn Sleep Pattern?

It’s important to understand newborn sleep patterns, because your baby’s sleep cycle is very different from yours!

It’s very common for newborns to go in and out of active sleep and quiet sleep, or light sleep and deep sleep.

During an active sleep cycle, your newborn is in REM (rapid eye movement) mode and they may cry, squirm, groan, etc. You may rush to them thinking they are awake or done with their nap.

Make sure to take a pause when your baby wakes to make sure they aren’t just transitioning between sleep cycles.

It’s normal in your baby’s sleep patterns for them to wake up temporarily and then go right back to sleep.

baby crib for newborn sleep

A Reminder About Sleep Safety

The best place for your newborn to sleep is a safe sleep surface, free from any suffocation hazards or entanglement risks to reduce the risk of SIDS.

If you need a safe sleep environment refresher, check out my post on the ABC’s of safe sleep!

Of course in these early days, I know that sleep is going to happen in a lot of different places for your newborn, not just in their bassinet. 

They might sleep on-the-go in the stroller, carseat, or baby carrier. They might even sleep in the arms of a caregiver. 

Regardless of where your newborn ends up sleeping, please make sure that you follow all safety regulations of the carrier or stroller you’re using. 

If your baby sleeps in someone’s arms, make sure the person who is holding them stays awake and alert, and ensures the baby is positioned in a way that allows them to breathe easily.

sample newborn sleep schedule

Sample Newborn Sleep Schedule 0-6 Weeks

If your baby is brand new, don’t stress too much about a schedule! Be aware of your baby’s wake windows so you can avoid an overtired baby, but know that nap lengths and times will vary—even day to day.

As long as you’re practicing safe sleep, daytime naps can be anywhere—on the go, on a caregiver’s chest, in a stroller, etc. It is not realistic for baby to take all their naps in a crib or bassinet at this age and that would make you feel like a prisoner in your own home!

The best thing about newborn sleep is that they are so portable in those early days. So give them a feed and take them out with you, knowing that they will probably sleep on the way. Your baby will likely need about 3–4 nighttime feedings at this age as well.

7:00 am: Wake up

7:45–9:30 am: Nap

10:15 am–12:15 pm: Nap

1:00–2:30 pm: Nap

3:15–4:45 pm: Nap

5:30–6:15 pm: Nap

7:00–7:45: Nap

8:30: Bedtime

newborn sleep schedule

Sample Newborn Sleep Schedule 7-9 Weeks

Around the 2-month mark, your baby will start waking up a little bit—though they will still be very sleepy! You can also start implementing a bedtime routine for your baby around this time—just something short and sweet to cue to her brain that sleep is coming!

Here’s a sample 2-month old sleep schedule for your growing babe:

7:00 am: Wake up

8:00-9:30 am: Nap

10:30 am–11:30 am: Nap

12:30–2:00 pm: Nap

3:00–5:00 pm: Nap

6:00—7:00 pm: Nap

8:00 pm: Bedtime

newborn sleep schedule for 7 to 9 weeks old

Sample Newborn Sleep Schedule 10-12 Weeks

As your baby gets closer to 2.5 months, they may be able to stay awake for a little bit longer, up to 75 minutes around 10 weeks and up to 90 minutes closer to the 3-month old sleep schedule.

Continue to try at least one nap a day in the crib or bassinet and add an additional nap in their sleep space if they’re doing well.

7:00 am: Wake up

8:15-9:45 am: Nap

11:00 am–12:30 pm: Nap

12:30–2:00 pm: Nap

1:45–3:15 pm: Nap

4:30—6:00 pm: Nap

7:15/7:30 pm: Bedtime

newborn sleep schedule for 10-12 weeks old

Amy Motroni
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