The Ideal Newborn Sleep Schedule

By Heather Stobbe

March 4, 2019

Heather Stobbe is a Registered Nurse with over 14 years of experience in Perinatal Nursing and Public Health Nursing. She is passionate about helping moms with breastfeeding, encouraging healthy sleep habits for babies & toddlers, and providing prenatal education to couples. Heather's goal as a Mama Coach is to make motherhood easier by providing accurate health information and support to families.

Congratulations on the birth of your baby! You might not know it yet, but you are going to be thinking A LOT about your baby’s sleep over the next year. Your sleep is directly influenced by your baby’s sleep, so knowing how to help your baby sleep better will be a huge benefit to both of you!


Like most parents, you probably noticed right away how much your newborn baby sleeps. It’s a lot! On average, 17-18 hours a day! They can only stay awake for very short periods, usually between 45-60 minutes. Many newborns also have their days and nights mixed up. What that means, is that they do not have an internal clock telling them when it is day and when it is night. The melatonin and other hormones they received through the placenta while in the womb are no longer there helping to regulate their internal clock. Newborns do develop their own circadian rhythm and internal clock eventually, but it takes time.


Essentially, newborns have two main goals in life: to sleep and to eat. They need to eat between 8 and 12 times in 24 hours. Some newborns are very routine in how often they feed, while others prefer to feed frequently during a certain time period, and then sleep longer stretches in between. Both of these are normal. Newborns tend to prefer a later evening bedtime (around 9-10 pm) but this can vary depending on the baby. Naps are every 45-60 minutes throughout the day and can last on average 1-2 hours.

A great first step in developing a sleep schedule for your newborn is understanding how to help set your baby’s internal clock. Consider starting to do a consistent bedtime routine, as it differentiates night time sleep from daytime naps. Keep in mind that a newborn sleep schedule needs to be flexible and it is always important to follow your baby’s hunger and sleepy cues.

Sleep at any age can be challenging. If you have questions please reach out to a Mama Coach in your area to support you and your family and get you on the road to better sleep!

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