How much should a newborn sleep?

Parents frequently wonder how much should their newborn should be sleeping and the question about when their baby should sleep through the night is a common one. The biggest problem with newborns and sleep is that they don’t know the difference between night and day. This means that they are just as happy to sleep at night as they are during the day. Not to mention, infants have very small stomachs and they need to eat very often meaning they will wake up frequently. Regardless of whether it is day or night infants will wake up to eat.

Generally, parents should expect their newborn to sleep about 16 hours a day or sometimes more. The sleep doesn’t come in one big stretch or even in two stretches of eight hours. Instead, infants usually sleep for 3-4 hour stretches and cycle through different phases of sleep like everyone else. They have light sleep and deep sleep, REM sleep and very deep sleep. As an infant grows the amount of time they sleep will decrease.

Parents feel like their baby is not getting any sleep because they may wake up a couple times at night. However this is usually only a problem for the parent who is losing sleep. The baby just wants to eat, have a clean diaper, and go back to sleep. Generally, it takes about three months for a baby to adapt to life and establish a sleeping pattern that lasts all night long.

When infants are brand new, however, there need to eat frequently will wake them up every few hours. Even if your newborn is sleeping longer periods you should take the initiative and wake the baby up to feed. In terms of time, your baby should be fed every three to four hours regardless of what time it is. And, while breastfeeding is best it’s not uncommon for breastfed babies to wake up every two hours to eat.