How Long Can I Expect My Newborn to Sleep?

Dealing with sleepless nights is a foregone conclusion for new parents. We all know going in that we’re going to have to pull some night time duty with our precious little ones. But how much is normal? How often should we expect our newborn babies to wake up? How long will they typically stay awake? How long will they sleep in a given day?

It’s perfectly normal for a newborn baby to wake up several times throughout the night. As a matter of fact, your newborn baby’s waking has little to do with the time of day. She’s not even aware of night time and day time yet.

Your newborn will wake up when she’s hungry, which is going to seem like it’s all the time. In reality, most newborn babies will wake up every two to four hours, needing to be fed. Breastfed babies wake up every two to three hours, typically, and bottle fed babies generally wake up every three to four hours.

How long baby is awake will vary. Sometimes, she’ll only stay awake long enough to eat, and she’ll fall back to sleep on the breast or the bottle. Other times, she may stay awake for as long as three to five hours. Don’t be alarmed if baby falls asleep sooner or doesn’t stay awake as long. Barring unusual circumstances, babies fall asleep when they’re ready to.

In general, you can expect the length of time your baby is awake to gradually increase as she grows older. Newborns typically sleep about 16 hours per day. You can expect them to be awake a total of eight hours per day, generally in fairly short stretches.

Under normal circumstances, you should not try to keep a newborn baby awake. When she’s ready to go to sleep, let her sleep. Her development requires that she be able to eat and sleep on demand, and you should accommodate her needs. Don’t worry, though. It won’t be long before she has grown and you will be able to get her on a schedule for eating and sleeping.

One thing you can and should do to make things easier for yourself is to take a short nap or two every day while your baby is sleeping. You know going in that you will be up at least two or three times during the night, so you should make up for some of that lost sleep during the daytime.