Expert guidance tips on your newborn's sleep schedule
At this point, you are 10 weeks postpartum and probably still waking up in the middle of the night. Don't stress about it. That's expected. But even though you knew you were going to run on months of sleepless nights, the exhaustion is starting to catch up.
But we've got your back with some tips on how to navigate those early weeks of sleep. Plus, a sample sleep schedule to help you get you and the baby on track.
How much sleep does a 10-week-old baby need?
Your newborn will spend most of his or her time sleeping: according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a newborn should get 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours.
"At 10 weeks, the amount of naps and overall sleep totals remain the same. But at this stage, it becomes more realistic to start to practice putting your baby down awake instead of completely asleep," says Rachel Mitchell, founder my My Sweet Sleeper. "Remember, though, it is just practice and it will take time for your baby to learn this skill. I continue to recommend the use of the pacifier, white noise, swaddling and ensuring the room is dark for all naps and night sleep."
With all that sleep, you may be wondering when your baby will eat. Basically, when a baby isn't sleeping, he or she is eating. To make your life as easy as possible, we've put together an example of what a 24-hour sleep schedule will look like for a 10-week-old infant. (Note: This is a rough guide of what you can expect from your baby. It's not meant to be a sleep schedule you put in place for your baby.)
10-week-old baby sleep schedule
|7:30/8:30 am: Wakeup for day|
|8/8:30 am: Feed and morning routine|
|9/9:30 am: Nap 1 (Morning awake window may extend slightly to 1.15-1.5 hours)|
|10:30/11 am: Awake (Ideally nap is 1-2 hours)|
|11 am: Feed|
|11:30 am: Tummy time|
|11:45 am: Nap routine|
|12/12:30 pm: Nap 2 (1.5 hour awake window or slightly earlier if nap 1 was short)|
|1:30/2 pm: Awake (Ideally nap is 1-2 hours)|
|2:15 pm: Feed + Walk outside|
|2:45/3 pm: Nap routine|
|3:15/3:30 pm: Nap 3 (1.5 hour awake window or slightly earlier if nap 2 was short)|
|4:30/5 pm: Awake (Ideally nap is 1-1.5 hours)|
|5:15 pm: Feed|
|5:30 pm: Tummy time + Last exposure to light|
|6/6:30 pm: Nap 4 (1.5 hour awake window or less depending on nap 3)|
|6:45/7:15 pm: Awake (Cat nap, cap at 45 minutes, can hold for this nap if needed)|
|7:30 pm: Tummy Time/Play|
|8 pm: Bedtime routine + feed|
|8:30 pm: Bedtime|
"You can also start to think about moving bedtime slightly earlier by moving it up about 30 minutes each day and seeing how your baby responds. If they struggle with this, it is OK to hold off for a bit longer, as melatonin isn't quite producing yet so an earlier bedtime might still be tough for your baby," says Mitchell.
Wake windows for a 10-week-old
Babies usually eat during their wake windows. A wake window is the period of time when the baby is awake in between nap times. They are important to know about because an overtired baby struggles to fall asleep.
The average wake window for a 10-week-old infant is 45-60 minutes. This is the sweet spot of how long your baby should be awake so they aren't too tired. During the baby's wake window, you can feed the baby, change the diaper, play with the baby or do anything you want. But don't try to keep the baby up longer than their wake window, otherwise, you could end up with a fussy baby who isn't getting enough sleep.
Sleep tips for newborns:
As you work on creating a daytime and evening sleep schedule for your baby, establish a bedtime routine and hopefully get a bit more sleep yourself, it's important to consider the following sleep tips for newborns as well:
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, not on the stomach or side. This helps to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID). The American Academy of Pediatrics initiated the "Back to Sleep" movement in 1992, and rates of SIDS/SUID have decreased dramatically since.
- Do not put anything else in the crib or bassinet. Keep plush toys, pillows, blankets, loose sheets, and bumpers out of your baby's crib or bassinet for similar reasons as above.
- Avoid overheating. Even though they're itty-bitty babies, you can dress them according to the room's temperature. Don't over-swaddle or over-layer their clothing.
- Try a pacifier. If they reject it, that's OK. If it falls out, that's OK. If you're breastfeeding, you may want to wait until baby is comfortable with latching and effectively nursing before introducing a pacifier.
- Use a white noise machine. Whether your house is quiet as a mouse, or you've got other kids running around making noise, a white noise machine can help your baby feel soothed (and possibly tune out) in their surroundings.
- Snuggle it up. Your newborn wants your cuddles as much as you want to give them—especially if they're fussy. Swaddle them up snugly, then rock them until they quiet down. There's no such thing as holding a newborn too much (for safety reasons, don't fall asleep with them in your arms.)