Your Baby’s Sleep: What you should expect

You’ve probably heard that having a new baby means you’re not going to get any sleep. It’s true that new babies are tons of work and impact every area of your life. Sleep is definitely one of those areas. The more information you have, the easier it is to manage all the changes that come with a new baby.

So how much can you really expect your baby to sleep?

Just like every other area of your child’s growth and development, infant sleep changes a lot over the first year.  A newborn sleeps very differently than a 4 month old, who sleeps very differently from an 8 month old.

Here’s a quick overview of what each stage looks like in the first year.

Newborn- 4 Weeks Old

Total sleep in a day (24 hours): 14-18 hours

Number of naps: variable

Amount of night sleep: variable

Your newborn is going to be very sleepy in the first weeks of life. They’re recovering from the delivery and adjusting to being in the outside world. The work of keeping their bodies growing is exhausting. Many new parents will comment on how well baby sleeps during this first month. Baby really is only awake to eat and get a diaper change. They will be easy to put down and may even need to be woken up to eat. 

Enjoy this sleepy time! But know it’s not going to stay this way.

1-2 Months Old

Total sleep in a day (24 hours): 13-16 hours

Number of naps: variable

Amount of day sleep: variable 

Amount of night sleep: variable

Your baby will now be spending a little bit more time awake. They may have one or two times per day where they are awake for a couple of hours. Often your baby will decide to have this wake time in the middle of the night! Baby is still learning the difference between daytime and nighttime. 

The more you keep it dark and quiet at night, even if your baby is awake, the better they learn that night is rest time. 

3-4 Months Old

Total sleep in a day (24 hours): 12-14 hours

Number of naps: 3-4

Amount of day sleep: 4.5 hours

Amount of night sleep: 8.5 hours

This is when sleep starts to change in a big way. You may hear the term sleep regression during this time. In fact, the changes are just normal developmental sleep changes. There are two major changes that take place. First, your baby will be decreasing the total amount of sleep they want in a 24-hour period. Second, the amount of time your baby needs to be awake before they can sleep well gets longer.  For some babies these two changes happen at the same time. Other babies will want less sleep, but still need to sleep after only an hour and half to two hours of wake time. 

Everyday sleep can look different. Follow your baby’s cues. If it takes a long time to get baby to sleep, it probably means your baby is ready for a schedule adjustment.

5-7 Months Old

Total sleep in a day (24 hours): 11-13.5 hours

Number of naps: 2-3

Amount of day sleep: 3 hours

Amount of night sleep: 9-10 hours

While getting enough food to eat has been important for good sleep from the beginning, it’s now even more important. When baby eats can really impact sleep. As the digestive system matures, not eating enough during the day or having food in the first few hours after going to sleep at night can make it difficult for a baby to sleep well. This is also the time when babies need to be active during wake time to maintain good sleep. Just being awake is easy for your baby now. To get tired enough to sleep well they need to be working on moving and mastering their body movements. 

From reaching and grabbing to sitting and scooting; the more baby moves and is busy when awake, the better they will sleep.

8-12 Months Old

Total sleep in a day (24 hours): 11-13 hours

Number of naps: 2

Amount of day sleep: 2.5-3 hours

Amount of night sleep: 8-10 hours

Now you should finally start to have a sleep schedule you can count on. Once a baby transitions to a 2-nap-a-day schedule they will keep this sleep pattern for the next 6-8 months. Babies in this stage are starting to fall asleep more easily and independently. Because your baby now has good motor control they can easily change their position while sleeping. Being able to stay comfortable without help makes sleep much easier to maintain through the night.

Remember, all babies are unique. You probably have different sleep preferences from your spouse. Your baby’s sleep preferences and needs will be different from your friend’s baby or your sister’s baby or the neighbor’s baby. 

If you’ve helped your baby master sleeping, loved being pregnant and want to find out about being a gestational carrier, fill out an intake form here.  If you are an intended parent who can’t wait to experience those sleepless nights and need more information about surrogacy, set up a free consultation here.