For most new parents, it is very difficult to know what to expect from your newborn's sleeping patterns. You may find yourself wondering how long and how often your newborn should be sleeping. Here are some general guidelines on how much sleep your baby needs:
- Newborns - 16-20 hours a day
- 3 weeks - 16-18 hours a day
- 6 weeks - 15-16 hours a day
- 4 months - 9-12 hours at night. At this age, most babies will also need two naps of 2 to 3 hours each during the day.
- 6 months - up to 11 hours at night and two naps during the day, ranging anywhere from 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours each
From 9 months to 1 year old, babies need between 11 and 12 hours of sleep at night. They may also nap for an hour or two during the day. While all babies and newborns are different, this is merely a guideline to give first-time parents an idea of what the average is. Keep in mind that not all babies are alike - some will require more or less sleep than others.
Your newborn baby will not know the difference between night and day and will sleep and eat around the clock - this is why you will find that your newborn will sleep most of the day and night, waking up only for feedings. This is normal. Most babies will sleep around 8-9 hours throughout the day and about 8 hours or so at night. But, as you know by now, most babies do not sleep continuously through the night!
Typically, most newborns and infants do not begin sleeping through the entire night until they are about three months old or weigh approximately 12-13 pounds. As a new parent, be aware that in the first 5 to 6 weeks, you should not let your baby sleep for more than 5 hours without a feeding. Babies have smaller stomachs, which is why they require feedings every 3-4 hours. In general, you do not have to wake your baby for a feeding unless you are specifically instructed to do so by your physician. One final note of advice, never ever under any circumstances put your baby to bed with a bottle propped up for feeding. This is dangerous. It can lead to ear infections and even choking.