Having a newborn baby is exhausting, especially in those early days but there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Yes, in those first few weeks, sleepless nights will feel never-ending but trust us when we say that you will master sleep schedules somewhere along the way and you will be enjoying a full nights sleep every night again soon. To help you navigate the unpredictable sleep schedules of a newborn’s first year, here is our quick guide.
A rough guide to your baby’s sleep schedule
A baby’s sleep schedule is completely unique to each baby but there are some patterns that we’ve outlined here to help guide you through that first year. Here’s what to expect at each stage.
In the first few weeks, a newborn’s sleep schedule will be irregular and erratic. Think of this stage as the sleep-eat-poop cycle where the baby will sleep the majority of the time, only waking to eat and be cleaned up. Although the baby is asleep for many hours in this first stage, this is the usually the most exhausting stage for parents as they are unable to get more than a few hours of sleep themselves at a time.
Sleep tip: Avoid introducing sleep aids or associations if you can, but ultimately, just do what you need to do to make sure both you and your baby are getting enough rest.
Wake up: 7 AM
Total time asleep: 15-18 hours
Naps: 3-5 naps each lasting 15 minutes to 3 hours long
Time awake between naps: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Bed time: 9:30-11 PM
Longest stretch of sleep in night: typically 2-4 hours
Once you have survived the first few weeks, you should start to see the resemblance of a sleep pattern emerging! By this time, you’ll still be exhausted from the first 6 weeks so you will be more than happy to be getting more sleep. Around the 2-3 month mark, your baby will be able to stay awake a little longer between sleeps and you’ll start to get an idea of the times that they tend to get sleepy.
Sleep tip: Avoid introducing bad habits at this stage such as feeding or rocking to sleep. These aren’t sustainable in the long run so the aim is to lay a solid foundation for healthy sleep patterns from the get-go. To do this, take note of your baby’s ‘sleepy’ cues so that you can put them down to sleep before they become overtired.
Wake up: 6-6:30 AM
Total time asleep: 14-16 hours
Naps: 3-4 naps each lasting 30 minutes to 3 hours long
Time awake between naps: 45 minutes to 2 hours
Bed time: 8-10 PM
Longest stretch of sleep in night: typically 3-6 hours
Just when you thought that you were getting a handle on your baby’s sleep patterns, they now may start to change. Around the 4-6 month mark is a time of transition for your baby, a transition that is different for each individual. Where some babies may be down to just 2 naps per day and sleeping all through the night, others may be experiencing a sleep regression or fighting to get their baby to sleep during nap-time.
The good news is is that this transition is only temporary and a full nights sleep is on the cards very soon!
Sleep tip: Transitions are challenging. Some may be visible such as transitioning out of swaddling or moving from a bassinet to the crib but some you may not be able to see. By now, you know your baby and their needs so note any changes and adapt accordingly.
Wake up: 7-8 AM
Total time asleep: 12-15 hours
Naps: 3 naps each lasting 1 to 3 hours long
Time awake between naps: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
Bed time: 8:30-9:30 PM
Longest stretch of sleep in night: typically 4-8 hours
At this stage of a baby’s first year, you should see a distinct sleeping pattern and, at some point, your baby should be reaching the ‘sleeping through the night’ milestone. If yours isn’t, however, try not to worry too much. Every baby is different and some take longer to progress than others – 70-80% of babies are sleeping through the night by 9 months old.
Sleep tip: If you want to reach this milestone quicker, begin to implement a consistent bedtime routine, learn your baby’s sleepiness cues, and start breaking any sleep associations in the months previous.
Wake up: 7 AM
Total time asleep: 11-15 hours
Naps: 2-3 naps each lasting 1 to 3 hours long
Time awake between naps: 2 to 3 hours
Bed time: 8-9:30 PM
Longest stretch of sleep in night: typically 5-10 hours
By the end of their first year, your baby should be starting to sleep through the night whilst spending much more of their day playing and exploring instead of sleeping (albeit a few day time naps). The biggest challenge now is any potential sleep setbacks. Although sleep regression usually happens at 8-10 months old, some babies can experience it at 12 months old. This can be caused by changes to their routine or environment, by separation anxiety or different milestones.
Sleep tip: Avoid sleep setbacks by staying consistent in your routine. This minimises confusion and prevents sleep regression.
Wake up: 6-7:30 AM
Total time asleep: 11-14 hours
Naps: 1-2 naps each lasting 1 to 2 hours long
Time awake between naps: 2.5 to 3.5 hours
Bed time: 8-9 PM
Longest stretch of sleep in night: typically 7-12 hours
A few sleepy tips to remember!
Your baby’s sleep schedule is incredibly important, so here are a few tips to remember to make getting them to sleep just that little bit easier.
- Pay attention to your baby’s sleepy cues so that they don’t become overtired. Overtired babies will become fussy and harder to settle for sleep.
- Learn your baby’s sleep cycle so that you can identify when anything changes.
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep. Remember the ABCs of safe sleep: Alone, on their Backs in an empty Crib or bassinet.
- Stay consistent with the feeding and sleep schedule, adapt to your baby’s changes and most importantly institute that consistent bedtime routine.
You know best when it comes to your baby’s sleep schedule
Every baby is different so don’t worry if your baby isn’t following the most common milestones that we have mentioned in this guide. You know your baby, you know their habits and needs, and you know when something isn’t quite right, so follow your own baby’s sleep schedule and foster healthy sleeping habits that will set them up for the future.