Newborn Sleep Schedule: Tips for Restful Nights

newborn sleep schedule
Table of Contents

Welcome to our guide on establishing a newborn sleep routine. As a new parent, ensuring your baby gets enough sleep is crucial for their development and your own well-being. In this article, we will explore newborn sleep patterns, share tips for creating a sleep schedule, and discuss effective soothing techniques to help your little one sleep soundly through the night.

Newborns have unique sleep patterns, and it takes time for them to develop a consistent routine. At first, their sleep is unpredictable, with daily sleep ranging from 8 to 18 hours. They may wake up every 3 hours for feeding, and their sleep can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. But as they grow, their sleep gradually becomes more organized. By around 4 months, they may sleep longer at night compared to daytime.

To establish a healthy sleep routine for your newborn, it’s important to understand their sleep patterns and cues. By observing their natural sleep-wake cycles and introducing a consistent bedtime routine, you can help them develop good sleep habits. Additionally, using soothing techniques like swaddling, shushing, and swinging can create a calm and comforting environment for your baby to sleep peacefully.

Key Takeaways:

  • Newborns have varying sleep patterns and may sleep anywhere from 8 to 18 hours a day.
  • Creating a consistent bedtime routine can help establish a healthy sleep routine for your baby.
  • Using soothing techniques like swaddling, shushing, and swinging can help your newborn sleep better.
  • Breastfed babies may wake up more frequently for feedings compared to formula-fed babies.
  • As your baby grows, they will naturally develop the ability to self-soothe and sleep for longer stretches at night.

Sleep Patterns and Development in Newborns

Sleep plays a crucial role in the growth and development of newborns. Understanding the sleep patterns and development milestones of your little one can help establish a healthy sleep routine. Let’s take a closer look at the different aspects of newborn sleep.

Sleep Cycles

Newborn sleep is divided into two main categories: light sleep and deep sleep. During light sleep, babies may stir, move, or even open their eyes. This phase accounts for approximately 60% of their sleep time. On the other hand, deep sleep is a more restful state where their breathing becomes quieter and their movements decrease.

Newborn Sleep Chart

Newborn sleep patterns can vary significantly from day to day, making it challenging to establish a fixed schedule. At this stage, your baby’s days and nights might be mixed up, with more sleep happening during the day than at night. It’s important to remember that every baby is unique, and their sleep needs and patterns may differ.

Newborn Sleep Schedule Milestones

As your baby grows, their sleep patterns begin to evolve. By around 2 to 3 months, you may start noticing some milestones in their sleep schedule. These milestones can include longer periods of sleep at night, more consolidated naps during the day, and increased awake periods during the day.

Newborn Sleep Schedule Development

Establishing a consistent sleep schedule for your newborn is a gradual process. While there may not be a rigid schedule in the early months, gradually introducing a baby schedule can help your little one adapt to a more predictable routine. Understanding their cues and providing a nurturing sleep environment can contribute to healthy sleep development.

Age Total Sleep Time Number of Sleep Cycles
Newborn (0-2 months) 14-18 hours 8-9 cycles
2-3 months 13-16 hours 7-8 cycles
4-6 months 12-15 hours 6-7 cycles
6-12 months 12-14 hours 5-6 cycles

It’s important to note that the provided sleep chart is a general guideline, and individual variations can occur. Always consult with your pediatrician for personalized advice on your newborn’s sleep needs.

Breastfed vs. Formula-fed Babies’ Sleep Patterns

When it comes to sleep patterns, breastfed and formula-fed newborns often exhibit some differences. Understanding these variations can help parents establish realistic expectations and develop strategies to promote better sleep for their little ones.

Breastfed Newborn Sleep Patterns

For breastfed infants, sleep patterns can be influenced by their feeding habits. Breastmilk is easily and rapidly digested, which means that breastfed babies may need to feed more frequently throughout the day and night to support their growth and meet their nutritional needs. As a result, they tend to wake up more often during the night for feeding sessions. In fact, it is not uncommon for breastfed newborns to wake up every 2 to 3 hours for a feeding.

This frequent waking during the night can be attributed to the unique composition of breastmilk, which is easily digested and quickly absorbed by the baby’s body. While it may seem challenging for parents, these nighttime feedings are important for the baby’s growth and development. Breastfeeding encourages a strong bond between the baby and the mother and provides essential nutrients and immune support.

Formula-fed Newborn Sleep Patterns

On the other hand, formula-fed newborns might exhibit different sleep patterns compared to their breastfed counterparts. Since formula takes longer to digest, formula-fed babies tend to have more predictable feeding schedules. They usually consume a larger quantity of milk during each feeding and can go longer periods without waking up for a feed.

In the first month, formula-fed babies typically feed every 3 to 4 hours, allowing for longer stretches of uninterrupted sleep. These longer periods of sleep can give parents some respite during the night. However, it’s important to note that individual babies may have variations in their sleep patterns, irrespective of their feeding method, as each baby is unique and may have different needs.

Parents should keep in mind that sleep patterns can change over time as babies grow and develop. Breastfed babies may start to sleep longer stretches as they mature, while formula-fed babies may continue to have more predictable sleep patterns.

Understanding these differences in sleep patterns between breastfed and formula-fed newborns can help set realistic expectations for parents. It’s important to remember that every baby is unique and may have individual sleep needs and preferences. By observing and responding to the baby’s cues and considering their specific feeding method, parents can support their baby’s sleep journey and create a nurturing sleep environment.

Soothing Techniques for Newborns

When it comes to soothing a newborn, Dr. Harvey Karp’s “4S’s and 5S’s techniques” have gained popularity for their effectiveness. These techniques not only help calm fussy babies but also promote better sleep. The 4S’s include swaddling, side or stomach position, shushing, and swinging. Additionally, the 5Hs technique adds sucking to the mix. By replicating the womb environment, these techniques provide newborns with a sense of comfort and security, enabling them to sleep more easily and soundly.

The first technique, swaddling, involves wrapping the baby snugly in a blanket or using a specialized swaddle blanket. This gentle pressure helps mimic the tight space of the womb, reducing startle reflexes and promoting relaxation.

The side or stomach position helps calm babies by placing them on their side or stomach while offering gentle support. However, it’s essential to follow safe sleep guidelines and never leave a baby unattended in these positions.

Shushing is another effective technique. Creating a rhythmic shushing sound mimics the sounds babies hear in the womb and helps mask other noises that might be disturbing to them. This can be achieved using various methods, such as softly saying “shh” or using white noise machines or apps specifically designed for babies.

Swinging is a soothing motion that resembles the gentle rocking babies experienced in utero. It can be achieved by using a baby swing, rocking them in a parent’s arms, or even going for a gentle walk in a stroller.

Lastly, sucking is a natural instinct for newborns and provides them with comfort. Offering a pacifier or allowing them to suck on their fingers or thumb can help calm them down and promote relaxation.

Using these soothing techniques consistently can help newborns learn to regulate their feeding, sleep, and crying patterns. It’s important to note that every baby is different, and not all techniques will work for every child. Parents should experiment with these techniques and observe their baby’s reactions to determine which ones are the most effective.

The Benefits of Soothing Techniques

Implementing the 4S’s and 5S’s techniques can have several benefits for both babies and parents. These techniques can:

  • Promote better sleep by providing comfort and security
  • Help newborns self-regulate their sleep and feeding patterns
  • Reduce excessive crying and fussiness
  • Provide a sense of calm and relaxation for both babies and parents

By incorporating these techniques into your daily routine, you can create a nurturing and soothing environment for your newborn, fostering better sleep and overall well-being.

Self-Soothing and Independent Sleep Skills

Teaching Newborns to Self-Soothe

As your newborn reaches around 3-4 months of age, you can begin teaching them how to self-soothe, a skill that promotes better sleep for both the baby and the parents. Self-soothing abilities allow babies to calm themselves with minimal or no assistance, helping them fall asleep and stay asleep for longer periods.

To support your baby in developing self-soothing abilities and independent sleep skills, consider the following strategies:

  1. Take care of their needs first: When your baby is well-fed, clean, and comfortable, they are more likely to settle down and self-soothe to sleep.
  2. Pay attention to natural sleep and feeding patterns: Observing your baby’s cues and understanding their individual sleep and feeding patterns can help establish a routine that aligns with their natural rhythms.
  3. Create a routine: Bedtime routines provide structure and predictability, signaling to your baby that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Consistency is key.
  4. Provide plenty of attention when awake: Engage with your baby during their awake time, offering love, playtime, and stimulation to promote healthy development and tiredness before sleep.
  5. Help them develop a circadian rhythm: Expose your baby to natural daylight and limit exposure to artificial light in the evening to support the development of a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

By implementing these strategies, you can help your newborn develop self-soothing abilities and independent sleep skills, setting the foundation for healthy sleep habits as they continue to grow.


“Teaching newborns to self-soothe is a valuable skill that promotes better sleep for both babies and parents.” – Dr. Amy Johnson, Pediatrician

Remember, every baby is unique, and it may take time for your little one to master self-soothing and independent sleep skills. Be patient, remain consistent, and adapt your approach as needed. With your loving guidance and support, your baby will gradually learn to soothe themselves and enjoy restful nights of sleep.

Developed Sleep Skills Comparison

Age Self-Soothing Abilities Independent Sleep Skills
0-3 months Minimal self-soothing abilities Reliance on caregivers to soothe and sleep
3-6 months Beginning to develop self-soothing techniques Emerging independence in falling asleep and staying asleep
6+ months Increased self-soothing abilities Greater autonomy in sleep routines

Creating a Bedtime Routine for Newborns

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is essential for newborns as it helps create a calm and predictable environment that promotes better sleep. Consistency is key, as it helps your baby understand that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. A bedtime routine lasting about 20 to 30 minutes can greatly contribute to your newborn’s sleep quality and overall well-being.

Here are some steps you can include in your newborn’s bedtime routine:

  1. Feeding: Before bedtime, offer a feeding session to ensure your baby is full and satisfied.
  2. Soothing Bath: A warm bath can help relax your baby’s muscles and soothe them before sleep. Use gentle baby soap and maintain a calm environment during the bath.
  3. Night Clothes and Fresh Diaper: After the bath, change your baby into comfortable night clothes and put on a fresh diaper. This helps signal that it’s time for sleep.
  4. Peaceful Room: Ensure your baby’s sleep environment is quiet, dimly lit, and free from distractions. This creates a peaceful atmosphere that promotes better sleep.
  5. Lullaby or Calming Music: Sing a soft lullaby or play soothing music to help your baby relax and transition into a sleep-ready state.
  6. Goodnight Kiss and Cuddle: Before laying your baby down to sleep, give them a gentle kiss and cuddle. This provides a sense of security and love.

As your baby grows and develops, you can adapt and modify the bedtime routine to suit their changing needs. It’s important to pay attention to your baby’s cues and adjust the routine accordingly. Remember, every baby is unique, so find what works best for your little one and stick to it consistently.

By creating a nurturing bedtime routine, you can establish healthy sleep habits for your newborn, making bedtime a peaceful and enjoyable experience for both you and your baby.

Sleep Training Methods for Newborns

newborn sleep training methods

Sleep training methods are effective techniques that can help both newborns and parents establish healthier sleep routines. By implementing these methods, you can promote better sleep for your baby and ensure that you get the rest you need as well. There are various sleep training methods available, but two popular ones are the Core Night Method and the Cry It Out Method.

The Core Night Method is a strategy used to help babies sleep longer at night, often used for night weaning. It involves gradually reducing nighttime feedings so that your baby can learn to sleep through the night without needing to eat. This method can be effective in helping babies establish longer stretches of sleep, leading to more restful nights for both baby and parents.

The Cry It Out Method is another sleep training technique where babies are put to bed while still awake and encouraged to fall asleep on their own. This method involves letting your baby self-soothe and learn to fall asleep without any external aids or interventions. While this method can be controversial, it has been successful for many families in teaching babies to sleep independently.

It is important to note that sleep training methods should only be attempted when your baby is developmentally ready, usually around 4 to 6 months old. Before that age, babies may still require nighttime feedings and may not yet have the ability to self-soothe effectively.

Remember, every baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s important to choose a sleep training method that aligns with your parenting style and feels comfortable for you and your baby. Patience and consistency are key when implementing these methods, as it may take some time for your baby to adjust to new sleep routines.

Sleep Training Method Age Recommendation Description
Core Night Method 4 to 6 months A strategy to help babies sleep longer at night by gradually reducing nighttime feedings
Cry It Out Method 4 to 6 months Encourages babies to fall asleep on their own by letting them self-soothe

Expert Insight:

“Sleep training methods can be helpful tools in establishing healthy sleep habits for newborns. However, it’s important to choose a method that aligns with your parenting style and meets your baby’s individual needs. Remember to always prioritize your baby’s safety and well-being throughout the sleep training process.”
– Dr. Sarah Collins, Pediatric Sleep Specialist

Implementing sleep training methods can be a challenging but rewarding process. Consult with your pediatrician or a sleep specialist for personalized guidance and support to ensure successful sleep training for your newborn.

Strategies for Parents to Get More Sleep

Sleep is essential for parents too. As a new parent, it can be challenging to prioritize your own sleep when caring for a newborn. However, getting enough rest is crucial for your well-being and ability to care for your baby effectively. Here are some strategies and tips for parents to get more sleep:

  1. Sleep when the baby sleeps: Take advantage of any opportunity to nap or rest when your baby is sleeping. This may mean letting go of other responsibilities, such as household chores, to prioritize your own well-being.
  2. Share nighttime duties: If possible, share nighttime baby duties with your partner. This will allow both of you to get some uninterrupted sleep. Consider taking shifts or alternating nights to give each other a chance to rest.
  3. Keep the crib nearby: Placing the crib or bassinet near your bed can make nighttime feedings and soothing easier and more convenient. This proximity allows for easier access to the baby, minimizing the disruption of your own sleep.
  4. Ask for help: Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends and family for support. Asking for help with nighttime feedings or taking care of the baby during the day can provide you with much-needed rest and rejuvenation.
  5. Utilize parental leave: Take advantage of any parental leave policies offered by your workplace. This time off allows you to focus on caring for your baby and getting the rest you need.
  6. Practice good sleep hygiene: Establish a bedtime routine for yourself that promotes relaxation and good sleep habits. Avoid consuming caffeine or using electronics before bed, as these can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Remember, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your baby. Prioritizing your own sleep will not only benefit you but also enable you to be more present and attentive to your little one. Implementing these strategies can help ensure that both you and your baby get the rest you need.

Sleep Strategies for Parents

Strategies Description
Sleep when the baby sleeps Take advantage of napping or resting when your baby is sleeping
Share nighttime duties Alternate shifts or nights with your partner to get uninterrupted sleep
Keep the crib nearby Place the crib or bassinet near your bed for easy access during nighttime feedings
Ask for help Seek support from friends and family for nighttime baby care
Utilize parental leave Take advantage of workplace policies that allow for time off to focus on baby care
Practice good sleep hygiene Establish a bedtime routine and avoid stimulating activities before bed

Implementing these strategies and adjusting your daily routines can help parents get the rest they need while taking care of a newborn.

Helping a Newborn Sleep Through the Night

Establishing healthy sleep habits is crucial for newborns to sleep through the night. By understanding their sleep patterns and cues, you can create a nurturing sleep environment that promotes restful nights. Here are some tips for helping your newborn sleep through the night:

  1. Create a bedtime routine: Establish a consistent bedtime routine that signals to your baby that it’s time to sleep. This can include activities like a warm bath, gentle massage, reading a book, or singing a lullaby.
  2. Look for sleepiness cues: Pay attention to your baby’s cues that indicate they are ready for sleep. These can include rubbing their eyes, yawning, or becoming less active. Put them to bed when they show these signs to prevent overtiredness.
  3. Provide a comfortable sleep environment: Ensure that your baby’s sleep environment is calm, quiet, and comfortable. Use a firm crib mattress, maintain a moderate room temperature (between 68-72°F), and use soft, breathable bedding.
  4. Practice safe sleep habits: Follow safe sleep guidelines to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Always place your baby on their back to sleep, remove pillows, blankets, and toys from the crib, and avoid overheating or overdressing your baby.
  5. Incorporate tummy time during the day: Encourage tummy time during the day to help your baby develop strong neck and shoulder muscles. This can contribute to better sleep by reducing discomfort and promoting healthy physical development.

Remember, every baby is unique, and it may take time for them to adjust to a sleep routine. Be patient and consistent in implementing these strategies, and consult with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby’s sleep patterns. Creating a peaceful sleep environment and following a consistent routine can greatly improve your newborn’s ability to sleep through the night.

When to Seek Professional Help for Newborn Sleep Issues

While newborn sleep patterns can vary, there are situations where it might be necessary to seek professional help for sleep issues. If your newborn is consistently not getting enough sleep, experiencing excessive night awakenings, or showing signs of sleep disorders, it’s important to consult a pediatrician. They can provide guidance, evaluate your baby’s health, and offer solutions to help improve sleep.

Sleep is a crucial aspect of a newborn’s development and overall well-being. When sleep problems persist and begin to affect your baby’s daily routine and overall health, it is essential to seek professional assistance. By consulting a pediatrician, you can address any underlying medical concerns or potential sleep disorders that may be hindering your baby’s sleep.

A pediatrician, specializing in the care of infants and children, possesses the expertise and knowledge to evaluate your baby’s specific sleep challenges and determine the appropriate course of action. They can offer evidence-based advice on sleep training techniques, suggest sleep schedules, and provide resources to optimize your baby’s sleep environment.

“If your newborn is consistently not getting enough sleep, experiencing excessive night awakenings, or showing signs of sleep disorders, it’s essential to consult a pediatrician.”

Consulting a pediatrician is particularly important if your newborn experiences any of the following:

  • Chronic difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Frequent night awakenings
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring, wheezing, or other unusual breathing patterns during sleep
  • Restlessness, twitching, or limb movements during sleep
  • Unusual sleep behaviors or movements
  • Consistently irritable or inconsolable during sleep times

By seeking professional help, you can gain valuable insights into your newborn’s sleep patterns, identify any potential health concerns, and receive tailored advice to address your specific sleep challenges. Pediatricians have extensive experience in assessing and managing sleep issues in infants, ensuring that you receive accurate and personalized guidance for your baby’s sleep needs.

Remember, the sleep patterns of newborns can vary widely, and it is normal for sleep to be irregular during the early stages of development. However, if you have concerns about your baby’s sleep or suspect an underlying issue, do not hesitate to consult a pediatrician.

Consulting a professional can provide you with the knowledge and support needed to ensure your baby’s healthy sleep habits, contributing to their overall growth and well-being.

Signs that may indicate the need to seek professional help for newborn sleep issues

Signs Explanation
Consistently not getting enough sleep Your baby consistently struggles to fall asleep or stay asleep, impacting their overall sleep duration.
Frequent night awakenings Your baby wakes up frequently throughout the night, making it difficult for them and you to get restful sleep.
Excessive daytime sleepiness Your baby displays consistent drowsiness and excessive sleepiness during their awake periods during the day.
Unusual breathing patterns or sounds during sleep Your baby experiences snoring, wheezing, or pauses in breathing during sleep, which may indicate a potential sleep disorder.
Restlessness or twitching during sleep Your baby exhibits restless movements, twitches, or limb jerks during sleep that may disrupt their sleep quality.
Unusual sleep behaviors or movements Your baby engages in repetitive movements, head banging, or rocking during sleep, potentially indicating a sleep disorder.
Consistent irritability or inconsolability during sleep Your baby consistently shows signs of distress, irritability, or inconsolability during sleep periods, impacting their overall well-being.

It’s crucial to remember that seeking professional help for newborn sleep issues demonstrates your commitment to your baby’s well-being and development. A pediatrician can provide the expertise and guidance necessary to address any concerns and ensure that your baby receives the best possible care for optimal sleep health.

The Importance of Patience and Flexibility in Establishing a Newborn Sleep Schedule

Establishing a newborn sleep schedule requires time, patience, and flexibility. It’s important to understand that each baby is unique and may have different sleep patterns and preferences. By being attentive to your baby’s cues and adapting routines as needed, you can create a nurturing sleep environment that promotes healthy sleep habits. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Pay attention to your baby’s cues: Newborns have their own ways of communicating their needs, including tiredness. Watch for signs of sleepiness, such as yawning, rubbing their eyes, or becoming fussy, and respond accordingly.
  2. Adjust routines as needed: As your baby grows and develops, their sleep needs and patterns may change. Be flexible in modifying their sleep routines to align with their changing requirements. This may include adjusting nap times, bedtime routines, or sleep associations.
  3. Create a nurturing sleep environment: Provide a calm and soothing atmosphere for your baby’s sleep. This can include keeping the room dimly lit, using white noise or gentle music to drown out background noises, and ensuring a comfortable temperature and bedding.

Remember, patience is key when establishing a newborn sleep schedule. Be prepared for adjustments and setbacks along the way. By being responsive, adaptable, and consistent in your approach, you can help your baby develop healthy sleep habits that support their growth and well-being.

Note: The image above highlights the importance of flexibility in newborn sleep routines.


Establishing a newborn sleep schedule is a gradual process that requires patience, flexibility, and an understanding of your baby’s sleep patterns. By introducing soothing techniques, teaching your baby to self-soothe, and creating a consistent bedtime routine, you can help promote restful nights for both your baby and yourself.

Sleep training methods can also be effective in encouraging better sleep habits. However, it’s important to prioritize your own rest and seek professional help if needed. Remember that every baby is unique, and their sleep preferences and patterns may vary. By being responsive to your baby’s needs and creating a nurturing sleep environment, you can establish a healthy sleep routine that suits your family.

Creating a peaceful and restful sleep environment for your newborn is crucial for their growth and development. It can also ensure that you, as a parent, are well-rested and able to provide the care and attention your baby needs. With time, consistency, and a little patience, you can establish a newborn sleep schedule that promotes healthy sleep patterns and sets the stage for a lifetime of restful nights.


What is the recommended amount of sleep for a newborn?

Newborns typically sleep for 8 to 18 hours a day, with sleep cycles ranging from 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Do newborns have a sleep routine?

In the beginning, newborns do not have a fixed sleep schedule. However, gradually introducing a baby schedule can be a promising idea.

Do breastfed and formula-fed newborns have different sleep patterns?

Yes, breastfed infants tend to wake up and feed more frequently during the night compared to formula-fed infants.

What are the 4S’s and 5S’s techniques for soothing newborns?

The 4S’s technique includes swaddling, side or stomach position, shushing, and swinging. The added 5th S is sucking. These techniques can help babies sleep more easily and soundly.

When can you start teaching a newborn to self-soothe?

You can start teaching a newborn to self-soothe around 3-4 months of age.

How can I create a bedtime routine for my newborn?

You can create a bedtime routine by incorporating activities such as feeding, a soothing bath, changing into night clothes, and singing a lullaby.

What sleep training methods can I use for my newborn?

Sleep training methods such as the core night method and cry it out method can be effective in promoting better sleep for newborns.

How can parents get more sleep with a newborn?

Parents can get more sleep by taking advantage of opportunities to rest while the baby sleeps, sharing nighttime baby duties, and practicing good sleep hygiene.

How can I help my newborn sleep through the night?

You can help your newborn sleep through the night by establishing a bedtime routine, providing a comfortable sleep environment, and watching for sleepiness cues.

When should I seek professional help for my newborn’s sleep issues?

It’s important to consult a pediatrician if your newborn consistently lacks sleep, experiences excessive night awakenings, or shows signs of sleep disorders.

What is the importance of patience and flexibility in establishing a newborn sleep schedule?

Patience and flexibility are crucial in understanding and responding to your baby’s changing sleep needs and preferences.

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